ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Federal Minister for Human Rights Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada addressed the Consultation Conference on Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2022 held in Islamabad on Thursday.
This meeting was arranged by the National Commission on the Status of Women with the help of UNFPA on the advice of the minister.
Different stakeholders and speakers were invited for their input and boarder discussion on the subject including Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Law and Justice, Women Parliamentary Caucus, Legal Aid and Justice Authority, National Commission for the Rights of Child as well as representatives of Local Government.
The proposed bill will introduce some necessary amendments in the prevailing Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929.
Child Marriage is one of the pressing human rights and in particular women rights issue in Pakistan as the Country is currently having the sixth highest number of child brides in the world (1.9 million). Different reports suggest that every year 21% of girls in Pakistan under the age of 18 become child brides instead of getting quality education and health facilities.
While discussing the issue, speakers expressed that the bill was the need of the hour that aims to enforce the constitutional rights of our children. Article 25(2) of the Constitution ensures that the State may make special provision for the protection of children.
Further Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) and is under obligation to enforce the provision of UNCRC. This Bill will also strengthen efforts to implement the UNCRC.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights Syeda Nosheen Iftikhar also recommended to insert some provisions to this bill regarding pre-marriage Thalassemia Test of intending spouses for the prevention of thalassemia in the Country.
Syeda Nosheen Iftikhar said that the test reports must be annexed with the Nikkah Nama as there is a rise of 6000-8000 thalassemia patients annually in Pakistan where the number of blood donors is very less as compared to need of present patients.
In his address, the Federal Minister for Human Rights Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada said that child marriage in Pakistan is deeply rooted in poverty and in centuries-old patriarchal traditions with devastating effects on girls. Child brides in Pakistan are at an elevated risk of sexual and physical abuse, reproductive health complications, and other adverse physiological and social outcomes.
The minister said that it was very necessary to have the awareness in masses on the issue particularly in areas where the ratio of child marriage is high. People should be educated on the issue that attaining the marriageable age is the basic right for both contracting partners for their better physical and mental health and most importantly for bearing a healthy next generation. He committed for his unwavering support in the parliament for this bill.
At the end, the minister congratulated and thanked the Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women Nilofar Bakhtiar for successfully organizing this session by taking all important stakeholders on board.
Riaz Hussain Pirzada observed that this was a very challenging issue and the bill needs afresh energy, support and debate for its passage and enactment in the Country.