–Bill proposes fine of Rs0.2m, three-year rigorous imprisonment for person marrying minor
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Committee on Human Rights Wednesday passed the draft bill raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 years.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar chaired a meeting of the committee and approved the bill.
Despite insistence by some religious parties’ MPs to set marriage age at 12 to 13 years, the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill was moved in the Senate and referred to the concerned committee of the House.
The bill says that a minor would be a person under the age of 18, the legislation shall extend to the Islamabad Capital Territory and come into force at once.
The bill provides that a person marrying a minor is liable to pay Rs 0.2 million and serve three-year rigorous imprisonment. Moreover, it states that a court, upon receiving a complaint, can issue a stay order to stall the marriage.
Senator Sherry Rehman, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the upper house, tabled the bill and said that the proposed legislation is aimed at preventing underage marriages; the legislation was also passed in Sindh Assembly earlier, she added.
She demanded a ban on marriages under the age of 18 years, saying that legislation is required to discourage underage marriages.
She said that after every 20 minutes, a woman dies in Pakistan of maternity-related complications and that out of every 100 females, 40 per cent are married below the age of 18. She read out part of a speech, delivered by the Quaid-e-Azam in 1929 against underage marriages in the then assembly, which led to the passage of the Child Marriage Restraint Act same year.
She pointed out female-related issues were more alarming in Pakistan as compared to even Afghanistan and Yemen.
Moreover, Khokhar said, “Child marriages are one of the major reasons of early deaths of children.”
The senator further stated that if the minimum age to acquire National Identity Card (NIC) is 18 years then the minimum age for marriage should also be same.
“The minimum age for both boys and girls should be 18 years and Parliament should approve the proposed draft bill,” he added.
Upon this, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari replied that the federal government has no objection in setting 18 years as the minimum age for marriage.
“The draft will be presented before Parliament next month and will also be forwarded to the federal cabinet for the approval,” Mazari said, adding no law will be passed which is against Islam or Shariah and government has to take care of the rights of both girls and boys.
State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, while not opposing the bill, pointed out that the bill recommended rigorous imprisonment, which should not be part of it. He said the advice of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) should be sought on the proposed piece of legislation.