ISLAMABAD: The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) directed officials of the Balochistan government on Tuesday to place the draft of a proposed law to discourage forced marriages before the provincial cabinet within 20 days.

The directive came after an FSC bench, comprising Chief Justice Dr Syed Mohammad Anwer and Justice Khadim Hussain M. Shaikh, started the hearing of a suo motu notice on the forced marriage of a five-years-old girl in Baluchistan.

The law officer representing Balochistan informed the court that the provincial government had drafted a bill, titled “The Balochistan Child Marriages Prohibition Act, 2021” and it would be presented to the cabinet as early as possible.

However, the court directed him to submit the draft to the cabinet within 20 days. The law officer representing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sought time to submit a report to the court. The Shariat Court adjourned the hearing at the request of the law officers.

Mohammad, the father of a five-years-old girl, lodged an FIR at a police station in Khuzdar alleging that his daughter was married off to the son of a murder accused on the orders of a jirga to settle a case. Under the “reciprocal arrangement” worked out by the jirga, Mohammad’s son would marry the daughter of the accused.

The father of the minor girl had also filed an application before the FSC in October.

The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 prescribes a punishment of up to six months for individuals who arrange the marriage of a child.

“Cruel, un-Islamic and heartless ritual is found in many parts of Pakistan where girls are given in marriage or servitude to an aggrieved family as compensation to end disputes, often murder,” the bench said.

“Under this custom the personal liberty of a woman is restricted for the rest of her life against all norms of justice. This contravenes Islamic injunctions and also Article 9 of the Constitution.”

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2022

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