Child brides

Published August 27, 2022

IT is unfortunate that the country continues to lose nearly 2m young women, who could have gone on to become brilliant doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, etc, to the rigours of marriage and childbearing before they can even be legally classified as adults. It appears that our patriarchal mores, which attach far greater importance to women’s traditional roles as mothers, homemakers and caregivers, end up robbing the country of a great deal of talent and human resource that could have helped it progress.

Ironically, despite an overwhelming increase in the number of female students in schools, colleges and universities in the urban areas, the custom of child marriage remains deeply entrenched in villages and smaller towns — sadly, there are many examples in the more ‘developed’ cities as well. The outdated traditions, which consider girls as a burden to be shed by having them marry early, keep alive a practice that is linked to a number of societal and health-related issues. There is copious evidence to suggest that underage brides — frequently wed to much older males — remain vulnerable to serious damage done to their biological, mental and intellectual health. They are prone to domestic and sexual abuse at the hands of their partners and to developing health problems on account of bearing children before their bodies are ready to give birth. It is unfortunate that laws that should provide protection from this practice remain toothless in the face of regressive tradition. Only Sindh has a marriage law that spells out the minimum age for marriage as 18 years (it is 16 in the rest of the country) but even so, it is hardly being enforced in the province. In fact, by some estimates, Sindh has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the country. Meanwhile, a recent ruling by the Islamabad High Court should encourage other provinces to revise their own laws. It is time the authorities took stock of this sinister practice that is detrimental to the well-being of millions of young girls across the country.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Unchanged rating
Updated 29 Feb, 2024

Unchanged rating

Unchanged Moody's rating underscores that fears of default will continue unless a new, larger loan agreement is reached with the IMF.
Silenced voices
29 Feb, 2024

Silenced voices

THE state suddenly seems to be acting more loyal than the king as far as respect for the judiciary is concerned. The...
Gwadar deluge
29 Feb, 2024

Gwadar deluge

GWADAR has been battered with severe rains — the worst since 2010 — with both the town and Ormara to its east ...
Democracy damaged
Updated 28 Feb, 2024

Democracy damaged

The reserved seats controversy could have been avoided had the ECP by now decided whether SIC deserves them or not.
Misplaced priorities
28 Feb, 2024

Misplaced priorities

THE federal government’s filing of a petition with the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking to overturn an Islamabad...
Killing jirgas
28 Feb, 2024

Killing jirgas

ANOTHER day and another chilling story unfolds in Kohistan. The jirga institution, declared illegal by the top ...