PESHAWAR: The civil society organisations have demanded of the government to take effective steps to promote girl education and discourage child marriages in the province.
A joint statement of various organisations issued here on Sunday in connection with International Human Rights Day said that according to Unicef report 21 per cent of girls in the country got married before reaching the age of 18.
The organisations including Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network, Peace Justice and Youth Organisation, Provincial Alliance to End Early Child and Forced Marriages, Blue Veins, National Action Coordination Group and Partners for Prevention and Response (P4pR) said that civil society and government should work jointly for rights of the vulnerable segments of the society.
The statement also quoted a report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), saying the age of 74 per cent of the married girls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was less than 16 years.
“Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects,” said Qamar Naseem, the programme coordinator of Blue Veins.
Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network coordinator Taimur Kamal said that by permitting child marriage, the government was responsible for serious harms suffered by the girls. He said that it required a comprehensive response to stop child marriage. “Having a law that sets a uniform, internationally recognised minimum marriage age of 18 for both boys and girls, is an important aspect,” he said.
District Commission on Status of Women chairperson Shaheen Qureshi said that complications of pregnancy and childbirth were leading causes of death in young women. She said that girls, who married later and delayed pregnancy beyond their adolescence, had more chances to stay healthier and educate and build a better life for themselves and their families.
“To achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), immediate action must be taken to improve access to education and end child marriage,” said the statement.
Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2018