COUNTLESS child marriages have been solemnised in our society owing to our old-fashioned customs. The practice is more common in areas under feudal and tribal influence. According to a report about 14 million under-aged girls were married off in the last decade or so.
One factor contributing to child marriage is ‘morality.’ As soon as the girl’s parents realise that she has attained puberty and if their financial resources and/or enlightenment is limited, the unfortunate girl is deemed ready for marriage.
Another factor is the misconception that girls may resort to independent behaviour which her family perceives would bring dishonour to her family and even cause bloodshed in extreme situations. In the third decade of the 21st century, Pakistanis need to modify their mindset.
They should realise that child marriages are a burden and a blot on Pakistani society. In fact there is substantive empirical evidence to suggest that early marriages result in a larger number of offspring. This retards our national fertility control aspirations.
It is time the human rights ministry took a stern stand against child marriages and child brides. Our girls have to be extended the same opportunity for education and enlightenment as boys. Only then will Pakistan scale greater heights towards prosperity and progress.
Abbas R. Siddiqi
Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2019