Nearly 72% of girls in Sindh get married before they turn 18

Published: January 22, 2013

PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Nearly 72 per cent girls in Sindh are married before they turn 18, and this phenomenon is no longer restricted to rural parts of the province.

Experts discussed the taboos associated with early marriages at a two-day conference, conducted by the Rutgers WPF in consultation with NGO Hands, titled ‘Enhancing the Role of Media in Eradicating Child Marriages in Sindh’ on Monday. Child marriages happen as frequently in cities, such as Karachi, as well, revealed Sindh Minister for Women Development Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto.

Bhutto’s department has signed a MoU with Hands to highlight the issue. The first seminar of the series was conducted in Hyderabad and the third would be held in Sukkur.

“The media highlights political and criminal issues but has less space for social issues,” pointed out Sindhi writer and intellectual Jami Chandio.

Bilquis Rehman of Hands said that the facts and figures highlighted that early child marriages, of both males and females, were very common in Jacobabad and Matiari districts. “Jacobabad is a district dominated by tribal men. The issue of ‘piri-muridi’ is also common in Matiari.”

Rehman pointed out that there are strict checks on getting national identity cards or driving licences on time, “but there are no restrictions on child marriages and no one even asks if the bride is physically and mentally mature enough”.

Chandio explained that most people in rural areas believed that marriage was a fundamental religious obligation. “Parents also think their daughters are an economic burden, and there is a lack of research on the issue as well.”

Dr Tausif, the chairman of the department of mass communication of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology, said that a woman is given secondary status in our society.

“When the British imposed bans on early marriages, Muslim leaders of the time and some Hindus also opposed it. But Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah supported it.”

The speakers and participants demanded the law makers of Sindh Assembly to make legislation as soon as possibly as the issue could be tackled easily.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Huma Shah
    Jan 22, 2013 - 12:34PM

    The religious scholars must take part in awareness as in our religion legal age is very low compared to 18 and that is basic hindrance in creating awareness. I am sure in KPK and most of the regions of Pakistan this ratio will be the same as Sindh but we cannot argue with anyone unless our Scholars will be onboard with us to persuade the parents to marry their children atleast after they will get education upto the grade 10th. .Recommend

  • witty
    Jan 22, 2013 - 1:46PM

    @Huma, a 10th grader is on average 16 years old

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  • lakha
    Jan 22, 2013 - 2:19PM

    As per PDHS survey In Pakistan, marriage is a social and religious obligation. The length of time women are exposed to the risk of childbearing affects the number of children women potentially can bear. Thus,an increase in the age at marriage can play a vital role in reducing fertility levels, because it reduces the period of exposure to childbearing. The data reflects that only 15.4 percent of females between the age of 15-19 are married.

    The report of Express show that 72 percent female marry before the age of 18 it is shocking for me. i dont know what is the source of data.

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  • shah ji
    Jan 22, 2013 - 2:24PM

    Its a valid argument. Girl should have atleaet highschool gratduation before sent to susraal And if someone replies that its the part of religion then they should know that the same is applicable for males. Why just to be imposed on females

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  • Toba Alu
    Jan 22, 2013 - 3:33PM

    @Huma Shah:

    Don’t you have your own opinion? Don’t you have your own responsibility? Scholars are scholars because you make them scholars. Time for some reason, some logical thinking. Please grow up and get real. Don’t hide all the time behind people who have no mandate except when you give it to them. Even 18 in a modern world is young by any standard. We have moved from an agricultural society into an industrial and some of us in a post industrial society. Wake up and read a few other books.

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  • Roni
    Jan 23, 2013 - 3:50AM

    The child marriages and in-breeding with double cousins is one of the reasons of our low life expectancy. However, we want to reproduce as soon as possible and as much as possible even if we don’t have means to support them. We believe that God would give them food if we cannot. Go figure!

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  • Dr. Zahid Sarwari
    Jan 23, 2013 - 9:00AM

    @lakha:

    The source is PDHS 2006-7, adjusted for 18 years old at marriage

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  • Dr. Zahid Sarwari
    Jan 23, 2013 - 9:03AM

    @lakha:

    Look at the sample size in these groups. PDHS is a survey of Married Women of Reproductive Age. By definition only married women are included. You cant say that 16% of women 15-19 y are married since unmarried women are not part of the survey

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  • Imran
    Jan 23, 2013 - 7:30PM

    In Islam you can marry a girl when she reaches the age of puberty. It’s better to have legitimate relation rather than committing fornication. This is what exactly happening in Europe and America, you will find many underage(less than 16) single moms

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