Govt urged to amend law to raise girl’s minimum age for marriage to 18

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RAWALPINDI: Participants at an awareness-raising session on 16 May 2024 unanimously supported amendment to the law to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls in Punjab to 18. The session was organised by Promoting Human Rights in Rural Areas (PODA) at the Sardar Ishaq Khan Hall of Rawalpindi District Bar Association.

PODA is implementing a three year project titled `Reduce Early Marriages to Enhance Gender Equality’ in 41 districts of the Punjab province, funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Islamabad.

The project focuses on advocating for legal amendments while lobbying with legislators and government departments such as health, education and population welfare departments, lady health workers, nikah khawan, nikah registrars, and conducting awareness-raising activities.

These activities engage government departments, community leaders, lawyers, media organisations, individuals, girls, mothers, teachers, doctors, and religious communities to ensure the dissemination of reproductive health related information and improve services in local communities.

MPA Nargis Faiz Malik, assured her full support for the legal demand to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls to 18 years. She pledged to share the session’s outcome with the assembly. PODA legal adviser, Khawaja Zahid Nasim Advocate, also emphasised the need to enhance and strengthen the roles of nikah khawan and nikah registrars to end child marriages. Hifza Bukhari, former finance secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association, said in her keynote address that the current environment is favorable for the government to lead the amendment to protect the rights of young girls by raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 years. This would enable them to pursue education and careers and participate equally in the development and progress of the country as Pakistani citizens, she said.

The participants of the session also recommended making CNIC mandatory for marriage and adopting standard practices for online marriage-related registration to reduce the incidence of child marriage in the country. PODA awarded shields of honor to Nargis Faiz Malik and the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi, which was received by a group of young lawyers.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 17th May 2024.
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