The Senate approved amendment in child marriage restraint act 1929 with majority and fixed 18 years as the age of puberty for girls. According to the amendment bill presented by Senator Sherry Rehman, , marriage under 18 years can lead to a fine of Rs200,000 and three years of rigorous punishment for facilitators.
Senator Ghafoor Haidri raised an objection saying the bill may be sent to Islamic Ideology Council (IIC) for further discussion. Senator Raza Rabbani in support of the bill apprised the house that the bill was earlier sent to the IIC, however, it remained pending there for years without discussion.
He said Sindh Assembly has already passed the same bill which was not challenged or opposed at any forum so far. Winding up the debate on the bill the Senate chairman sought voting and passed the bill with opposition of five votes.
21% of girls in Pakistan are married before their 18th birthday and 3% are married before the age of 15. According to UNICEF, Pakistan has the sixth highest number of absolute child brides in the world – 1,909,000. The median age of marriage is lowest in rural areas and in Gilgit Baltistan. A 2017 study estimates that ending child marriage in Pakistan could lead to a $6229 million rise in earnings and productivity.
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