The earth shakes every time a child is forcefully married to a man twice or thrice her age. The trend of child marriages in Pakistan is deeply rooted in the culture. UNICEF reported on the shocking rate of child marriages in 2013. In Pakistan, nearly 21% of the girls under the age of 18 get married. That’s just a reported figure… most marriages never come out in the open.
The brave heart from KPK:
Just like the 21% of Pakistani girls, Hadiqa Bashir, from the Malakand division, parents got a marriage proposal for her when she was only 11. They responded in affirmation. However, an uncle close to her heard her cry and told her about the Pakistani marriage law. She threatened her family to file a case against them.
In spite of these issues, she stayed strong and now actively participates in spreading awareness against early marriage. She works in collaboration with Girls United for Human Rights in Pakistan.
“My mission of ending child marriages in my region will continue with my new responsibility as young leader,”
The United Nations have selected her as one of the young leaders for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She aims to work on women’s education, child marriage problem, poverty, and equality for women. Her prominent awards include: Asian Girls Human Rights Ambassador award and Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award.
“My mission of ending child marriages in my region will continue with my new responsibility as young leader.”
Laws of Child Marriages in Pakistan
Pakistan has a flawed child marriage law. The allow allows marriage at the age of 16 for girls and 18 for boys. However, Senate passed a new law that increases the age for girls to 18. Although these laws are present, no one pay heeds to them. Thus, only strong laws can stop an illegal marriage in a rural area.
Marriage at an early age has negative consequences. It leads to pregnancy-related disorders and can potentially cause death. Consequently, there is a high incidence of depression, cervical cancer, and other gynecological problems in these girls.
Denial of basic human rights
Women are denied basic human rights in these child marriages. The major reason for these early marriages is a high level of illiteracy. Men expect women to give birth and take care of the home. It is prevalent among underprivileged and illiterate families. They consider women as a burden and see it as a duty to remove it as soon as possible.
Therefore, Pakistan has concentrated its effort on ending child and forced marriages by 2030. It is one of the Sustainable Development Goals that Pakistan must fulfill.
If we are to end this culture, we should work together with the government. Different NGOs and volunteers should spread awareness by going door to door. Responsible citizens should come ahead and report these situations. So, what do you think is the solution to this tradition? A powerful law or general education?