Concept of Child Marriage


Child marriage refers to any formal marriage or informal union between a child under the age of 18 and an adult or another child (UNICEF). Child marriage is considered to be a form of forced marriage, given that one and/or both parties is not capable of  expressing full, free and informed consent.

Minimum Age for Marriage in Muslim Countries

According to National Commission on the Rights of Child (2022), the minimum age for marriage also varies in Islamic countries. For example, the legal minimum age for girls is 19 in Algeria and 20 in Libya, while it is 18 in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, and 21 for girls in Indonesia.

Minimum Age for Marriage in Pakistan

The legal age of marriage is 18 for boys and 16 for girls throughout Pakistan except in Sindh province where the legal age of marriage is 18 for both boys and girls. In addition, the age of marriage in Pakistan is set differently in specific laws for religious minorities

Threshold  of 18 years for Marriage Age 

A child under the age of 18 is not considered to be of legal age, which is a sine qua non for marriage. Moreover, a girl or boy, under 18 years is not considered capable of giving or forming a free and informed consent. The threshold of 18 years is laid down in many international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on Consent to Marriage, the Minimum Age for Marriage and the Registration of Marriages of 1964, etc.

Opposition to Setting Minimum Age for Marriage in Pakistan

Some religious scholars in Pakistan oppose raising the marriageable age to 18. It is argued that a person is allowed to marry once he or she reaches puberty. Therefore, no law setting a minimum age of marriage can apply to Muslims and this would be against Islamic teachings.

In October 2021, the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) in Pakistan categorically stated that the setting of a minimum age for marriage by an Islamic state is not against Islam. The FSC also rejected a petition on 6 March 2023 challenging the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act of 2013. 


    Go toTop