Senate human rights body approves bill for raising marriageable age to 18

Published January 30, 2019
The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill will be presented in the parliament by next month, says HR Minister Shireen Mazari. — File
The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill will be presented in the parliament by next month, says HR Minister Shireen Mazari. — File

The Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday approved a draft bill looking to raise the minimum age for marriage in the country to 18 years.

The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018, looks to increase the minimum age by which women can marry to 18. Currently, the legal age for marriage for women in the country is 16 years, while that for men is 18 years.

During the session today, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said the proposed bill would be presented in the parliament for debate next month.

This bill had earlier been presented in the Senate by PPP lawmaker Sherry Rehman, but was forwarded to the human rights committee by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani for further debate.

"This bill has been presented in order to stop child marriage. A similar legislation was already adopted by the Sindh Assembly. This bill, however, will also apply to Islamabad," Senator Rehman said.

"Eighteen years should be declared the age of adulthood in the country and the world 'child' should be clarified," she said, noting that 21 per cent of child deaths in the country are caused by childhood marriages.

The senator also told the committee that Pakistan holds the second position on the list of countries with the highest child marriage rates.

According to Senator Rehman, the age for marriage all over the world is 18 years; people under that age are considered children.

Dr Mazari told the meeting that her party, the ruling PTI, seconds the bill. Committee chairman Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said the fact that all parties approve of the bill is welcomed.

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