The need for child marriage legislation in Pakistan

Child marriage is a global issue. Nearly 12 million girls are married every year before reaching the age of 18. This comes to 23 girls every minute. Over the past decade, 58 million young women in developing countries have been married before the age of 18. Child Marriage is particularly widespread in South Asia where nearly 48 per cent of young women are married before the age of 18. In Pakistan, the 6th largest country in the world by population, 21 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18 and 3 per cent before the age of 15.

Several Muslim majority countries including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Egypt and Bangladesh have banned marriages under the age of 18. Al-Azhar University in Egypt has issued a declaration against child marriages. In Indonesia, some women scholars have urged the government to raise the legal age for marriage to 18.

The fate of millions of Pakistani children is now in the hands of lawmakers. The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018, has been presented in the National Assembly. Three ministers have opposed it, citing religious grounds and called it a foreign agenda.

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