Child marriage became a normative practice and only selected people raise their voices for the protection of their rights in this regard in the world. It is reported that about 64 million children are married before 18 years in the world. Each day, 39000 girls marry and 1 in 9 marry before the age of 15. Likewise, 35 percent of women become mother before the age of 18 in Pakistan.
Despite the fact, It is clearly defined the marriage age for both male and female is 18 years in UN Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC). According to the convention, all signatory 140 states including Pakistan are bound to promote and protect the civil, social, political, economic, and cultural rights of children without discriminating on the basis of language, ethnicity, social and political background, caste, color race, and sex.
It is disheartening to mention that Pakistan, being one of the ratified nations of CRC, could not fulfill the committed promises and many children are a victim of physical, psychological, and sexual harms in their daily lives. Many street children have to confront issues like child labor and sexual exploitation.
Girls are considered guests at the homes of parents and their permanent homes are husbands’ ones and parents never think of their education and future career
In terms of gender, girls are facing numerous problems in their daily lives in our society. Women are one of the most vulnerable groups in Pakistan generally and Balochistan in particular. The man chauvinism never treated women as human being because they are believed to be an economic, psychological and social burden on the family. This patriarchal mindset has promoted and risen the child marriage rate in Balochistan.
It is intimidating to mention that laws and policies have created more controversies regarding marriageable age in Pakistan. As Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 states that marriageable age for a girl is 14 and 16 for boys, Muslim family Law Ordinance 1961 states that when a child becomes the age of puberty, she/he can be married. Similar issues also exist in the Hindu Marriage Act 2017, Christian Marriage Act 1872 and The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act 1936. These laws and policies have made the marriageable age more complicated. UNICEF 2017 report highlighted that about 70 percent of females are married under the age of 18, even, the ratio is higher in rural areas of Pakistan.
Likewise, the trend of child marriage is very common in Balochistan. Most of the females are married before the age of 18 in Balochistan and given the domestic and marital responsibilities at an early age. UNICEF reported that 22 percent of males and 63 percent of females are married at the age of 10 to 14 in Balochistan. There are different causes of child marriage such as economic, cultural, tribalism, poverty, family honor, illiteracy, weak legislation, lack of implementation of existing laws, lack of awareness, misogynistic attitudes and gender inequality. On the other hand, there are hazardous effects of child marriage such as psychological, committing suicides, domestic violence, social isolation, a complication from the pregnancy, and increase the death rate of women during the delivery.
Girls are considered guests at the homes of parents and their permanent homes are husbands’ ones and parents never think of their education and future career. Because spending money on female education means wasting the money. So, early marriage forbid them to continue their education. Due to which the female dropout rate is 70 percent in Balochistan.
If a female resists and keeps different opinion, she will be killed or she has to pass her entire live in social ostracism
The attitudes of relatives and neighbors are also promoting child marriage in the province. When a girl enters at the age of 10 or after that she is married because all neighbors and relatives would be blaming the parents for not marrying her. Parents would be compelled to follow the social road, otherwise, they would be the victim of ostracism.
Female agency- able to make independent decisions- is the most important factor of child marriage. Females are married because they do not have a say in front of their families. Whatsoever, the parents say, they have to accept the proposal. If a female resists and keeps different opinion, she will be killed or she has to pass her entire life in social ostracism.
The most important thing is age gap between husband and wife. Mostly, under 18 year’s girls are married to aged men. Sometimes, girls are given to other families for solving family disputes. Such kind of cases would greatly affect the futures of female.
Read more: Child marriage is still legal in the US
Thus, the government should make policies for the protection of children and should make an effective and responsive birth registration system. There should be child rights advocacy and monitoring the child rights violation. Especially the government of Balochistan is requested to implement existing laws because other provinces especially Sindh and Punjab developed their own laws after the 18th Amendment.
Nadil Baloch is M. Phil. Scholar at Department of Sociology, University of Karachi, Ex-DRI Research Fellow at NCHR, and Freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.