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Wednesday April 17, 2024

42 percent girls in Pakistan get married before their 18th birthday

Islamabad Around 42% of girls in Pakistan get married before their 18th birthday and 8% of adolescent married women are already mothers between the ages of 15-19. The issue was highlighted at the launch of ‘Bachpan Bachao,’ a joint collaboration between Oxfam and Save the Children in Pakistan to be

By our correspondents
February 13, 2015
Islamabad
Around 42% of girls in Pakistan get married before their 18th birthday and 8% of adolescent married women are already mothers between the ages of 15-19.
The issue was highlighted at the launch of ‘Bachpan Bachao,’ a joint collaboration between Oxfam and Save the Children in Pakistan to be implemented with their respective Pakistani partners. Supported by the Government of the Netherlands with a donation of €410,000, the project will be executed in Sindh and Punjab provinces.
In his opening remarks, Country Director of Oxfam in Pakistan Arif Jabbar Khan highlighted the importance of young people. “They are a tremendous force for change in the world. But young people often have little or no say in decisions that affect their lives. Oxfam continues to place the highest priority on supporting young girls and boys to learn about their rights, grow in confidence, and actively shape their own futures. We work with the youth to help them find their voice through improved access to education, increased awareness on their overall wellbeing and the right to make informed choices,” he said.
‘Bachpan Bachao’ will focus on raising awareness among key stakeholders on the detrimental effects of child marriage and build capacities to take action against the practice. Oxfam and Save the Children will work with target groups, including community and religious leaders, marriage registrars, government officials, law enforcement officers, health service providers, teachers and parents on the negative effects of early marriage and equip them with adequate resources to take action. The project will focus to influence policy reforms in Sindh and Punjab and improve access to quality adolescent health services.
Human Rights Ambassador of the Netherlands Kees van Baar was the chief guest at the launching ceremony. Ambassador Kees van Baar reflected on Dutch support to young people’s basic human rights to good health, education and freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation. “Preventing child, early and forced marriages is a priority of the Dutch government.”
The ambassador also highlighted that the project will engage parents and teachers, local and national governments, parliamentarians, media, religious scholars and civil society across Pakistan.“Getting married often means the end of education and reduces the woman’s earning potential in later life. In other words, child marriages have a negative impact, both on the girls themselves and on the societies as a whole", said the Ambassador.
The launch hosted a discussion around the status and reforms of child marriages in the country. Panel comprised policy, legal and religious experts and representatives from law enforcers, civil society and academia.
Highlighting Pakistan’s legal status on child rights and child protection, key panelist Justice (r) Nasira Iqbal said, “Child Marriages Restraint Act was enacted in 1929. It needs to be amended to make 18 years minimum age for marriage, especially for girls, to comply with equality principle enshrined in Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Sindh has amended the law and it is a welcome outcome. Punjab, the most populous province is urged to do the same.”
Member National Assembly of Pakistan and Chief Coordinator of Prime Minister Youth Skills Development Scheme Maiza Hameed highlighted various initiatives taken by the government to lift young people and equip them with the right education, information and access to take control of their lives. “When children are forced into marriages, it deprives them of education and economic opportunities, resulting in a vicious circle of abject poverty that they and their families are unable to come out of their entire lives,” said Maiza.
In his closing remarks, Director Advocacy, Communications and Child Rights Governance of Save the Children in Pakistan Arshad Mahmood, said, “Child brides have the highest mortality rates in Pakistan. Child marriage is a complex issue, entwined in our socio- cultural history. It is high time we all work together to prevent it from happening.”