KARACHI: As the debate over legislation to ban child marriage in Pakistan continues, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has called for adopting legislation that makes under-18 marriages illegal.
Bilawal, in a tweet, said every 20 minutes a girl dies in Pakistan as a result of underage pregnancy and that the country should follow Sindh’s example, where marriage age is 18. He stated the provincial law recently stopped an adult marrying a 10-year-old.
He further added that in other Islamic countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Turkey the legal marriage age is 18. “Are they not Muslim countries,” the PPP chairman asked.
The ministers of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were at loggerheads over the bill pertaining to marriage of persons below the age of 18. Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday expressed his displeasure at some “elected representatives and ministers’ opposition” of the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in the National Assembly.
The bill — that has already been passed by the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights as well as the upper house itself — was presented in the National Assembly on Tuesday, and it polarised parties during the debate. Even though the bill was tabled by Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani of the PTI, several of his fellow party leaders strongly opposed it.