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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Lahore High Court Orders Overhaul of Child Marriage Act

Lahore High Court Strikes Down Discriminatory Sections of Child Marriage Act, Directs Punjab Government to Amend Legislation.

the Lahore High Court (LHC) has directed the Punjab government to revise the Child Marriage Act, 1929, following a verdict declaring its gender-based age criteria discriminatory.

The ruling, delivered by Justice Shahid Karim, specifically targets Section 2(a) and (b) of the Act, which sets different marriage ages for males and females at 18 and 16 respectively. This move comes in response to a petition highlighting the gender-based disparity within the legislation and its violation of constitutional principles.

The court’s decision strikes at the heart of gender inequality entrenched within legal frameworks, emphasizing the constitutional principle of equality before the law. By deeming the discriminatory provisions unconstitutional, the LHC reaffirms Pakistan’s commitment to upholding fundamental human rights and ensuring equal treatment under the law. Moreover, the directive to amend the Act within 15 days underscores the urgency of addressing discriminatory practices and advancing gender equality.

Addressing the broader implications of the ruling, the verdict aligns with Pakistan’s international obligations to protect children’s rights and eliminate harmful practices such as child marriage. By acknowledging the adverse effects of early and forced marriages on education, health, and socioeconomic development, the LHC’s decision signals a significant step towards creating a more equitable and inclusive society.

Striking Down Discriminatory Provisions

The LHC’s verdict marks a pivotal moment in the fight against gender-based discrimination in Pakistan’s legal system. By striking down Section 2(a) and (b) of the Child Marriage Act, 1929, the court addresses a longstanding issue of unequal treatment based on gender.

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This discriminatory provision, which sets different marriage ages for males and females, has been deemed unconstitutional and without legal authority, signaling a departure from entrenched patriarchal norms.

In its ruling, the LHC emphasizes the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law, highlighting the need to eliminate discriminatory practices that perpetuate gender inequality. By ordering the Punjab government to amend the Act within a specified timeframe, the court sends a clear message that gender-based disparities in legislation will not be tolerated. This decision sets a precedent for future legal reforms aimed at promoting gender equality and protecting the rights of all citizens, regardless of gender.