Child marriage refers to unlawful and illegal practice boys and girls are married off before they reach a minimum age of adulthood. Internationally, underage marriage is considered as a criminal practice as well as a human rights violation. Likewise, in Pakistan, there is also a Federal Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 and Punjab Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act 2015 which fix marriageable age for girls at 16 and boys at 18.
According to UNICEF, 21 percent of Pakistani girls are married by the age of 18, and 3 percent before 15. Girls who marry are more likely to drop out of school than other girls. They face greater pregnancy-related health risks than women, and their babies are more likely to have health problems. Married girls are more likely to face domestic violence than a woman who marries later. Additionally, child marriage sinks families deeper into poverty.
This could change if Pakistan’s government passes an important bill, submitted by Senator Sherry Rehman, suggesting amendments to the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929. The bill seeks to completely ban marriage before the age of 18.
Reasons of child marriages
Extreme poverty, gender inequality, customs, cultural notions, and lack of education and awareness are the primary reasons behind this harmful traditional practice. There are evident, early marriages that will keep on leaving young girls in chaos until the contributors of this criminal practice are not uprooted efficiently. According to news reports, more than 140 million underage girls will be married between 2011 to 2020 in Pakistan.
The trend of child marriage has been a major cause of girls’ illiteracy or lower level of education and marriage compatibility. It can also damage the girls physical, mental, and social health leading to serious health issues in the future. The possibility of mismatches of marriages is high. Child wives fall ill and lots of times die.