The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Friday insisted that a "better way" to tackle the prevalent practice of child marriages is to start an awareness campaign among the masses instead of passing legislation.
A CII spokesperson said that the council in its 212th meeting had discussed the matter in detail and had arrived at the conclusion that "legislation against child marriage and setting an age limit will lead to many complications".
The meeting on the matter comes days after the Senate passed the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018 — which proposes that the minimum age for marriage be set at 18 — amid noisy opposition from religious parties and some members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). Some of the opposing senators had argued that the bill be sent to CII before being tabled in the house.
A similar bill that was tabled in the National Assembly by a PTI lawmaker a day after the Senate passed the anti-child marriage bill faced strong opposition from members of the ruling party itself.
The CII research department today presented a 10-page "comprehensive report" that detailed religious scholars' arguments against as well as in support of passing an anti-child marriage bill into law. The report also mentioned details of age limits set for marriage by 12 Muslim countries.
CIl's supreme body agreed that child marriage leads to "various negative consequences and problems" and that the practice "should not be encouraged".
Furthermore, the council said that the government "should take effective steps eliminating the reasons due to which some families in Pakistan are forced to marry off children at a young age".
The CII is a statutory body with a minimum of eight and a maximum of 20 members, including one woman, whose function is to advise parliament on whether laws are in consonance with Islamic injunctions. The council does not have legislative power.