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Till marriage do us part

Monday, November 22, 2010
he Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) has urged the government of Pakistan to ensure more stringent punishments for violators of the child marriages act and impose effective mechanisms to check the menace of child marriage.

A day-long SPARC seminar was held in Sialkot, where the key speakers addressed the issue of child marriages. The seminar was interrupted by a large group of miscreants from the area who protested outside the venue and the SPARC speakers and clerics exchanged hot words on the issue before guards and police officials asked the clerics to leave the venue.

"An early marriage leads to early conception, which ultimately affects the health of the teenage girl as well as her future,” said Naila Athar, a social worker. “These girls seldom get an education and they are bound for life from a very early age without any choice of their own.”

Pakistan’s Muslim Family Law states that in a marriage, a girl must give her consent and be at least 16 years old.

In March 2004, the Law and Justice Commission came out with a draft amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code seeking to penalize the act of offering or accepting a woman against her free will, or any child forced into marriage by way of compensation.

A father may literally ‘sell’ off a daughter to pay off loans from the bride money he receives from the son-in-law. Often, family feuds are settled by giving away daughters or sisters (some as young as a few months old) to the enemy camp, in a custom called ‘Swara’ or ‘Vani’.

Recently, two girls were rescued by the intervention of the Chief Minister of Punjab. When the media got wind of the child marriage, it was highlighted on local TV channels and reported in Sindhi language newspapers.

The speakers at the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) demanded that a single definition for male and female children be recognized to bring the Child Marriage legislation in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 and the United Nations.

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posted by Doll at 4:12 PM

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