GUJRAT: The Punjab government has a plan launch a toll-free number to help the victims of forced marriages, particularly those of expatriate Pakistani women, and the officials deputed at the rescue centres will take immediate measures to rescue the victims.

The government has also been working on another proposal to provide brochures or information cards in the planes to the passengers coming to Pakistan from Norway, Britain and other countries with the questionnaire whether they are being compelled by their parents and family to come to Pakistan with a design of a forced marriage so that the remedial steps can be taken even at the airports on their arrival.

Salman Sufi, the adviser to chief minister on Strategic Reforms Unit (SRU), told this to the participants of one-day seminar simultaneously held in Kharian and Norwegian capital of Oslo through a video link. The seminar was jointly organised by the embassies of Pakistan in Oslo Norway and Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad on Saturday.

Mr Sufi said Islam did not allow forced marriage while in Pakistan laws, there was a punishment of three years imprisonment on forcing somebody to marry against his/her will.

The large number of Pakistani expatriates settled in Norway and their close kin were among the participants of the seminar that was also addressed by the Pakistani ambassador to Norway Riffat Masood and Norwegian ambassador in Islamabad Tore Nedrebo in Kharian while Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa, Jamshed Qazi and others also spoke.

Norway’s State Secretary on Foreign Affairs Laila Bokhari, speaking through video link from Oslo, said forced marriages were the major cause of violence and sexual abuse of women which could not be tolerated and both Norway and Pakistan should work together to get rid of this menace.

UNO’s Jamshed Qazi said approximately 700m girls worldwide had been married before their eighteenth birthday, one in every three girls in the developing countries was married before reaching age of 18 and one in nine girls was married under 15.

Naseer Kareem, the woman who was the first in Oslo around 25 years ago to come on the media against her forced marriage, also spoke.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2017

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