LAHORE, Nov 5: There is a dire need to initiate legislation for effective movement against child marriages, says Punjab Population Minister Zakia Shahnawaz.

The State, government, and all political, social and legislative institutions should collaborate on this.

She was speaking at the launching ceremony of “Alliance against Child Marriages (AACM)” and “Dialogue on child marriages among key stakeholders” at a local hotel on Tuesday.

Apart from Zakia Shahnwaz, the panel consisted of Neelum Husain, executive director, Simorgh, Bushra Khaliq, executive director, WISE, Mumtaz Mughal, provincial coordinator, Aurat Foundation, Daud Saqlain, regional manager, ActionAid, Ambreen Fatima, programme officer, ActionAid, Tanveer Jahan, DCHD, Fozia Waqar, director, Shirkatgah, Mian Muhmmad Aslam, director social welfare, Irshad Waheed, deputy director social welfare, and Salman Abid, regional head, Strengthening Participatory Organisation.

She said early child marriages were a dire abuse of human rights. It was a grave threat to young children's lives, especially girls who already had no choice of marriage in society nor did they have any health and future prospects. She expressed grief over the fact that early marriages were fast becoming the cause of deaths in under-developed countries.

She said early marriages were a hindrance to the educational process of the children involved and would end up depriving the society of educated mothers. She emphasised the need for effective legislation to protect the lives of children.

The minister assured the participants that the Punjab government was committed to take up the issue.

Other speakers too stressed that the government must take measures for initiating the required legislation against early marriages. They said parents instead of discouraging this act used to support it in the name of local traditions.

The participants stressed the need for social movement on the issue as mass awareness would be required along with legislation.

The launch concluded with the performance of a theatre group that presented a drama on the issues that could arise because of early marriages. .

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