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January 12, 2021

MPs pledge to increase age of marriage for girls

Lahore

January 12, 2021

LAHORE:A number of parliamentarians from two major political parties and officials from the government departments resolved to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls in Punjab from 16 to 18 years and make National Identity Card a mandatory document as an evidence of age at the time of marriage. They also announced supporting a relevant amendment act which is pending in the Punjab Assembly and waiting for approval.

This was announced during a “Press Conference on Say No to Child Brides,” which was held at Lahore Press Club by Bargad, a leading youth development organisation.

MPAs Sadia Sohail Rana, Sumaira Bukhari, Bushra Anjum Butt, Uzma Kardar and Sabiha Shaheen, Executive Director of Bargad joined the press conference. The press conference is part of a campaign Say No To Child Brides initiated by Bargad. It seeks increasing the marriage age of girls from 16 to 18 years in Punjab.

MPA Sadia Sohail said early age marriage must be eliminated from Punjab. She said that early age marriage was harmful to health and overall well-being of girls who are married at very young age as they are not physically or emotionally ready to take responsibilities. According to MPA Uzma Kardar, the ID card should be a mandatory document at the time of marriage for Pakistani nationals whereas passport for foreign nationals because without this people will still keep showing a 10-year old girl as 16 or 18 to avoid punishment or hurdle by law enforcement agencies.

MPA Bushra Butt vowed to pursue the legislative bill lying in the Punjab Assembly which proposes increase in age for marriage of girls in The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929. MPA Sumaira Bukhari said that the female MPAs fully agree that legislative amendment to The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 should be approved as early as possible.

Sabiha Shaheen said that Bargad has been pursuing the matter of bill amendment in The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 since 2015 and will keep doing so until the bill is approved. The participants were also presented with results of an online petition initiated by a 14-year-old girl Nawal. About 22,815 persons have endorsed this petition so far demanding the government to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls in Punjab from 16 to 18 years. She aims to collect 50,000 signatures before presenting this to the Punjab Assembly.