QUETTA: More than 21 per cent women of 20-24 years are married in Balochistan before reaching their 18th birthday whereas about 6pc are married before 15 years of age.

The Population Council, with support of the United Nations Population Fund, carried out a Political Economy Analysis (PEA) on child marriage in Pakistan with focus on Balochistan.

According to a report on Thursday, Makran has the highest prevalence of under 18-year girl marriage (23pc), followed closely by Nasirabad (22.4pc) and Sibi division (22pc).

Quetta division has the least reported percentages of both under-15 and under-18 years girl child marriage at 2.6pc and 11pc, respectively.

The report highlights prevalence of girl child marriage belonging to poorer families (22.4pc). Both under-15 and under-18 year marriage prevalence declines if girls have attained the highest level of education.

The report explores the political, religious and socio-cultural factors behind the incidence of child marriage in Balochistan. It also provides evidence for the adoption of necessary policy interventions, including the enactment and implementation of the Child Marriage Restraint Act.

Balochistan Minister for Food Zmarak Khan, senior government officials from the Balochistan social welfare, human rights, women development, law, health and population welfare departments, civil society representatives, academia, health practitioners and the media atended the launch of the report.

Speaking on the occasion, Zmarak Khan urged legislators, political parties, civil society and the media to collectively work towards creating a conducive environment for girls’ education and socio-economic inclusion.

He said: “This landmark report, analysing the political economy of child marriage, will not only contribute to comprehensive legislation to prevent the practice in the province but also act as a catalyst for further research, advocacy, and policy change on this critical issue.”

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2021

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