By Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE: Ms Uzma Kardar, Member Punjab Assembly and Chairperson of the Women Empowerment and Gender Mainstreaming Committee of Punjab Assembly hosted a consultative meeting with parliamentarians and media representatives in collaboration with UN WOMEN – the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women at a local hotel on Wednesday.
The main discussion revolved around the issue of child marriage and the disparity in age of marriage for males and females in the existing law.
A documentary was shown on child marriage situation in Pakistan in which chairperson Counsel of Islamic Ideology Qabla Iyaz can be seen talking in favour of raising the age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18.
Ahmer Majid, Advocate Lahore High Court gave a presentation on the global and national stats on child marriage.
He said majority of Muslim countries all over the world have 18 years as minimum age of marriage for both girls and boys.
Those who do allow marriage below 18 have a number of legal protection measures in place to ensure it is well warranted.
In a panel discussion moderated by Ms Nabila Malick of UN Women, Sohail Waraich, Member National Commission on the Status of Women, Umer Rashid, Professor of Law in the University of Science and Technology, Uzma Kardar, Member National Assembly and chairperson Women Development & Gender Mainstreaming committee and Mufti Ragib Hussain Naeemi, member Counsel of Islamic Ideology spoke on various aspects of child marriage including socio-legal issues and health issues.
The panellists also traced the history of amendments introduced to Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929.
The emphasized the need for further amendments to the child marriage bill in Punjab demanding the age of marriage to be raised to 18 from 16 for girls. A number of parliamentarians attended the session including Raheela Khadum Hussain, Bushra Butt, Shamsa Ali, Zainab Hussain, Mussart Jamshed Cheema and Punjab Ombudsperson Rukhsana Gilani and others. They shared their views on the topic and agreed that ID card should be a condition for marriage for both girls and boys. Uzma Kardar was hopeful that the amendment for change in minimum age will be made a reality very soon.
Ms Aisha Mukhtar, Deputy Representative of UN Women in Pakistan concluded the session by saying that child marriage is a grave violation of fundamental human rights as it has consequences on every aspect of the child’s life and has negative impacts on the community and society at large. There is strong evidence that child marriage has a negative impact on the development and progress of a country.
A World Bank study from 2017 estimates that ending child marriage in Pakistan could lead to a $ 6,229 million rise in earnings and productivity. She further said UN Women is delighted to support this initiative and pledges to collaborate with government partners until all children in Pakistan are cherished and protected and can live free from all kinds of violence, including marriage at an age when they should be studying or playing. That is the vision that we must jointly work towards as the future of the country belongs to its children.