Group Of Parliamentarians Raises Voice Against Under-age Marriages

The lawmakers have vowed to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls in Punjab from 16 to 18 years….

LAHORE:  A group of parliamentarians from two major political parties and officials from the government departments have resolved to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls in Punjab from 16 to 18 years.

The parliamentarians have also vowed to make National Identity Card as a mandatory document as an evidence of age at the time of marriage. They have also announced to support a relevant amendment act which is pending in the Punjab Assembly and waiting for the approval.

They have made these announcements while addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club today.

“Say No to Child Brides,” was the subject they have come up to raise before the national media through their press conference. MPAs Sadia Sohail Rana, Sumaira Bukhari, BushraAnjum Butt, UzmaKardar and Ms. SabihaShaheen, 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 year in Punjab. DuringSay No To Child Brides, Bargadhas already organized youth-led rickshaw messages campaign in Lahore, online campaign involving social media influencers, online petition (signed by 22,815 persons so far), multi stakeholders dialogue with parliamentarians, policy makes, government officials, civil society organizations and media, sessions with youth, webinars with decision makers and social action projects led by youth.

MPA Sadia Sohail said early age marriage is an evil and must be eliminated from Punjab.

She further said that early age marriage is harmful to health and overall wellbeing of girls who are married at very young age as they are not physically or emotionally ready to take responsibilities. According to MPA UzmaKardarthe ID card must 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 ensured to pursue the legislative bill laying in the Punjab Assembly which proposes increase in age for marriage of girls in The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929.MPA Sumaira Bukhari said thatthe female MPAs fully agree that legislative amendment to The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 should be approved as early as possible.

Ms. SabihaShaheen said that Bargad has been pursuing the matter of bill amendment in The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 sinch 2015 and we will keep doing so until the bill is approved. We have also been creating the awareness in communities for acceptance and implementation of the very law.

The participants were also presented with results of an online petition initiated by a 14 years girl Nawal. 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.