Institutional Framework for Child Marriage

Nikah Registrar

In Pakistan, the Nikah Registrar is a government-appointed official responsible for registering marriages under Islamic law, also known as Nikah. For the purpose of registration, each Union Council appoints a Nikah Registrar in its area and this Nikah Registrar is licenced by the Union Council. The Nikah Registrar is only competent for marriages registered under Islamic law, leaving out other communities who marry off children in their own religious ceremonies are left out.

Registrars play an important role in protecting against illegal marriages, including child marriages and forced marriages. In a number of reported cases in recent years, the Nikah registrars, who were responsible for registering marriages and ensuring compliance with the law, did not fulfill their duties

Union Council/Cantonment Board Office/ Arbitration Council

The Union Council is responsible for maintaining a marriage register and issuing marriage certificates/nikah nama to couples who have completed the registration process. Under the Pakistan Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961, all marriages involving at least one Muslim partner must be registered with the Union Council. The Cantonment Board Office issues Nikah Nama certificates to residents of cantonment areas in Pakistan. In Islamabad, marriage certificate is issued by  Arbitration Council through ICT Administration.

National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)

The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) is responsible for issuing computerised Marriage Registration Certificate (MRC). NADRA is a government agency that maintains a centralised database of all Pakistani citizens and provides various services related to identity verification, registration and documentation. Any adult married person in Pakistan can apply for Marriage Certificate from NADRA Pakistan, however  the applicant must have Urdu Nikkah Nama prior to registration by the NADRA.

The computerised marriage certificate issued by NADRA is an official document that serves as proof of marriage and is recognised by various government agencies and institutions. The certificate contains important information about the bride and groom, including their names, ages, addresses and CNIC (Computerised National Identity Card) numbers.


The police possess the authority to investigate cases of child marriage and apprehend those accountable, albeit the extent of authority may differ from province to province in Pakistan. Police are also responsible for ensuring the safety and protection of the child and for ensuring that the child is removed from the marriage. When a case of child marriage is reported to the police, they are required to investigate and file a report. The police can also take action to prevent child marriage, such as seeking an injunction from the court or conducting a raid to rescue the child.

Child Protection Agencies/ Authorities

Child protection agencies in Pakistan, in principle and in most provinces as per their mandate, play a crucial role in preventing and combating child marriage. One of the main tasks of the child protection agencies in Pakistan is to provide support and services to victims of child marriage and their families. This includes case management and referral support services including counselling, legal aid, medical and other services.

Child protection agencies also work to prevent child marriages from occurring in the first place. They may conduct community outreach and education campaigns to raise awareness about the negative impact of child marriage and the importance of protecting children’s rights.

National and Sub-National Human Rights Institutions

National and sub-national human rights institutions like NCHR, NCRC, NCSW, provincial SHRC, PCSW, SCSW, etc play pivotal roles in addressing child marriages. They handle complaints, provide redressal mechanisms, contribute to policy-making, review laws, and advocate for reforms aimed at preventing and eliminating child marriages.


Child marriage cases in Pakistan can be brought before different courts depending on the nature and gravity of the offence. The main types of courts in Pakistan that deal with these cases are:

Family Courts: these courts have jurisdiction over family and matrimonial matters, including divorce, child custody and maintenance. The family courts also have the power to deal with cases related to child marriages.

Criminal courts: Criminal courts deal with offences such as rape, abduction and forced marriage. In cases of child marriages, criminal charges can be brought against the parents or other persons who arranged or facilitated the marriage.


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