Monday, November 19, 2012

Child Marriages In Pakistan.

An interactive article by Dr Meher Zaidi

Pakistan faces many legal and moral challenges. Child marriage is one such issue which has to be taken seriously if it wants to justify itself as a modern, progressive state. There are many issues which make this more complicated.
According to religious scholars and almost all Islamic schools of thought, child marriage is allowed in Islam. There is no age bar. Children as young as two can be married and it has been practiced as a custom to betroth children with their cousins or inside clans and tribes. According to the Pakistan penal code a child is described as under 18 years for males and under 16 years for females ( practice the female child is taken as when she reaches puberty which maybe as early as 9 years as is happening in many girls in Pakistan now where the age of puberty is falling. According to Mufti Naeem, child marriage including Rukhsati or sending the girl to her in laws house is allowed but sexual act is not allowed in Islam. How can this be prevented is one such big question as many cases of child sexual molestation are not reported or even recognized in Pakistan.
Incestious behaviour is not even reported or acknowledged inside families.

According to laws rape is well defined but linking this to child marriage and lack of evidence and because the raped is a child and is suffering coercion and dominance shows the inequality and lack of justice provided by the state.
In Pakistan religious political parties and religious scholars stand in way of egalitarian justice provided to child be it female or male.The right to child education and health is a fundamental right. In girl child early pregnancy and childbirth breaches both. The right to education is breached and health is compromised as complications of pregnancy and childbirth including death are common. These are also made more serious because of lack of access to health services and financial dependency. Girl child also suffers from gender prejudice including less access to food and social support.
The male child also suffers from psychological pressure, false and patriarchal gender complexes which hinders his emotional intelligence and social adjustment in adult life.His education and eventually financial status may suffer due to early emotional pressures.The male child also may suffer from early Sexually Transmitted Diseases and exposure to paid sex workers.
The lack of recognition of dangers of child, the apathy of traditional and religious scholars to understand and address this issue augurs doom for this country.Just like opposition to any human rights issue is considered in Pakistan a holy duty,this issue should be taken up on war footing by the ordinary citizens of Pakistan and legislated

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