QUETTA: Participants of a policy dialogue on ending marriage of children have stressed that there should be no compromise on the child marriage bill and pressure groups seeking amendments in the proposed draft should be resisted.

The policy dialogue was jointly arranged by NGO Shirkat Gah and the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) on Tuesday.

In her keynote address, NCSW chairperson Khawar Mumtaz highlighted the adverse effects of child marriage on girls’ health and critical indicators such as maternal and infant mortality, and stres­sed the need for a multi-pronged strategy to combat child marriage inclusive of all line departments and support services.

Participants discussed the negative impact of the practice on the economy. Shirkat Gah focal person Madiha Shekhani cited figures from a World Bank report, saying that Pakistan could save $77 million by 2030 and potentially enable a $6229 million rise in earnings and productivity if early age and child marriages were eliminated.

Balochistan SDG unit lead Zulfiqar Durrani commented on the transition from the MDGs to SDGs and stated that there was much more political commitment towards the SDGs, particularly in Balochistan where “there is a vibrant and active provincial unit, women’s parliamentary caucuses, and youth parliament”.

During the discussion, several recommendations were presented, including the need for increasing the age of marriage for girls to 18, allocation of adequate budgets for effective implementation of laws, robust monitoring mechanisms, training of nikkah registrars for family laws, and prevention of child marriage through compulsory CNIC and birth registrations.

It was unanimously agreed that there is an urgent need to collaborate and strategise on the child marriage restraint draft bill before presenting it before policy-makers for the third time.

Retired Justice Kailash Nath Kohli, lead in drafting Balochistan’s child marriage restraint bill, commented that in line with the age for CNIC and voting, the age of marriage must also be standardised at 18 years.

Chief guest Sanaullah Baloch stressed the need for reducing the gender gap in education as a means to tackle child marriage and pledged to advocate for the issue in the assembly.

Senior government officials of various departments, including Women Development Department assistant director Rukhsana Baloch, Social Welfare Department Deputy Secretary Saeeda Manan, Youth Affairs Directorate Director Afzal Sulehri, Deputy Director Maternal and Child Health Sabina Baloch, and Ombudsperson on sexual harassment Sabira Aslam also spoke on occasion.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2019

Opinion

Editorial

Outlawing torture
Updated 26 Jun, 2022

Outlawing torture

Physical or psychological torture is now considered almost a given in police and intelligence investigations.
High-profile case
Updated 26 Jun, 2022

High-profile case

IN a ‘breaking news’ culture, it is not often that such a significant development in a high-profile case can be...
Daska redux?
26 Jun, 2022

Daska redux?

AS the clock ticks down on the by-elections scheduled for next month on recently vacated Punjab Assembly seats,...
Taxing corporates
Updated 25 Jun, 2022

Taxing corporates

The steps taken by the government are reflective of the extremely sorry state of our economic affairs.
Poll security
25 Jun, 2022

Poll security

AS local government elections in Sindh as well as a raft of by-polls for the national and provincial assemblies draw...
Polio concerns
25 Jun, 2022

Polio concerns

THE fact that vaccine-derived poliovirus has been detected in London’s sewage samples for the first time in 40...