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PESHAWAR: Speakers at seminar here stressed the need for raising awareness among people about the consequences of child marriage and enactment of laws to curb the practice.

The seminar was organised by Centre for Communication Programmes Pakistan at department of journalism and mass communication, University of Peshawar. A large number of students and teachers attended the event.

Tahir Abbas, the CCPP advocacy specialist, said that the organisation was working to raise awareness about the consequences of underage marriage and push efforts for legislation regarding it. “We are working with different universities to raise awareness about the issue by holding seminars,” he added.

Shagufta Hameed, another speaker, said that as per Pakistan Demographic Health Survey, one out of four girls was married before reaching the age of 18 in the country. She added that rural areas had reportedly 14 per cent of the underage marriage cases while the urban areas witnessed 12 per cent such cases.

Speakers say early marriage often results in health complications

She said that underage marriages often resulted in miscarriages, lack of mental health of the young parent, divorces, higher rates of infant and maternal mortality, malnutrition and other health issues.

Early marriages of girls and then child bearing often created health complications, she added.

Ms Hameed said that the survey showed that maternal mortality rate in the country was 276 per 100,000 births while the infant mortality rate was 74 per 1,000 live births.

She said that major reasons of child marriages were poverty, crisis situation, incorrect religious interpretations, gap between parents and their children, and the gender roles that had been assigned by society to men and women.

Mohammad Sharif Hazarvi, a religious scholar, told the participants that child marriages were not encouraged in Islamic teachings.

“The Holy Quran says in a verse that besides attaining puberty, someone also needs to be mature enough to earn and sustain his family before getting married,” he said.

He said that someone might achieve puberty at the age of 18 years, but he or she might still not be mature enough to handle the responsibilities of a family and marriage.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2019