ISLAMABAD: After rejecting a bill calling for raising the marriageable age for girls on Wednesday, Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman Rehman Malik on Thursday decided to reconsider it and place it before the committee in its next meeting.

Representatives of human rights and women rights NGOs and various scholars will be invited to give their point of view as well.

Members of the committee had, just a day earlier, voted to reject the ‘The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ and declared it un-Islamic.

The mover of the bill, Senator Sehar Kamran, criticised the fact that the bill was rejected even though she was not present during the meeting. The rejection also brought forward criticism from various other corners as it is related to the rights of young girls and because it suggests raising the minimum age girls can be married from 16 to 18 years.

Senators flay rejection of bill calling for an increase in girls’ marriageable age

Talking to Dawn, PPP’s Sehar Kamran said it was unfortunate that the bill was rejected on United Nations Day of the Girl Child and that it became a matter of embarrassment and shock.

“The PPP speaks about the rights of women and children and actively participates in legislations regarding human rights. I had decided to raise the issue in parliament and within the party. However, I appreciate the decision to reconsider the bill and I hope the committee will pass it,” she said.

“No country can develop if its youth is weak and uneducated. Early marriages make girls physically and mentally weak and they are deprived of an education. They can therefore also not play a role in the development of the country,” Ms Kamran said.

A statement issued by a spokesperson for Senator Rehman Malik says the mover of the bill chose to attend another meeting and that her absence had been noticed by the committee.

“Chairman committee has decided that the said bill shall be reconsidered and once again placed before the committee. Representatives of NGOs on Human Rights and Women Rights and renowned scholars of the country will also be invited for their point of view. Final recommendation on the bill after due diligence shall be referred to the house,” the statement says.

One of the members of the committee who had also voted to reject the bill on Wednesday, Tahir Hussein Mashhadi told Dawn he wanted to support the bill but did not dare to do so as it was declared un-Islamic during the discussion.

“I strongly welcome the decision of the chair to reconsider the bill. This matter needs to be discussed in the line of the rights given by Islam as the religion talks about the protection of women as does our culture” he said.

Senator Mashhadi added that the bill is important for the protection of girls and that it will help towards protecting their physical and mental health and protecting their right to education.

The draft bill, available with Dawn, stays the leading cause of death in girls between the ages of 15 and 18 is pregnancy. It says that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child also suggests that the minimum age for marriage should be 18 years. It says the practice of marrying off young girls is very common in Pakistan, especially among the rural population and that offenders hardly ever get punished and that the minimum marriageable age should therefore be increased to 18.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2017

Opinion

Editorial

Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.
Royal tantrum
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Royal tantrum

The PML-N's confrontational stance and overt refusal to respect courts orders on arguably flimsy pretexts is a dangerous sign.
Bangladesh chaos
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Bangladesh chaos

The unfortunate events playing out in Bangladesh should serve as a warning sign for other South Asian states.
Fitch’s estimate
20 Jul, 2024

Fitch’s estimate

FITCH seems to be more optimistic about Pakistan accelerating its economic growth rate to 3.2pc during this fiscal...