Press Release: the call for an end to child marriage in Pakistan

WC Desk:

Making one of Pakistan’s most impoverished districts the first stop of her first official visit to the country, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka called upon the entire community to end child marriages and voice their commitment to change the lives of girls and young women for the better.

“When the whole nation commits to tackling deep-rooted traditions like child marriage head-on, millions of girls stand to benefit. This is also a task for men, who can accelerate progress by saying simply ‘I will not marry a child’,” the Executive Director said.

Calling on religious and traditional leaders to use their position of authority to take a stand against violence and protect the rights of girls, the Executive Director received pledges from religious clerics, registrars, and local politicians to make Mithi a ‘zero child marriage’ village and set an example for others to follow.

The Minister for Women Development for the Province of Sindh, Syeda Shehla Raza, said that early child marriage is among the contributing factors to both relatively high rates of maternal and child mortality in Tharparkar, which needs urgent attention through multi-pronged interventions. She added that the Government of Sindh is doing everything possible to ensure the implementation of laws related to women’s health and the social, political and economic empowerment of women.

Pakistan’s Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 sets the legal age for marriage at 16 for women and 18 for men. In April 2014, the provincial Sindh Assembly unanimously adopted the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, making marriage under the age of 18 a punishable offense.

It is estimated that there are 650 million women and girls in the world today who were married before age 18. During the past decade, the global rate of child marriage has declined—from one in four young women aged 20-24 being married as children, to almost one in five.

At the national 16 Days of Activism event in this southeast district of Pakistan, the Executive Director encouraged families and the community to be more vigilant to prevent and report cases of under-aged marriage. She also urged the religious leaders who solemnize marriages to confirm whether the bride and groom are of legal age, stressing the importance of birth certificates and national identity cards for verification child is 18.

News Source: UN Women.

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