Sindh Assembly passes bill declaring marriage below 18 punishable by law

Published: April 28, 2014

PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013 was passed in the provincial assembly on Monday, declaring marriage below the age of 18 punishable by law, Express News reported.

According to the new bill, in cases of underage marriage the parents, bride and groom can all be sentenced to three years in prison and can be fined with Rs45,000.

The Sindh Assembly is the first assembly in the country to pass a bill of this kind.

The bill was presented in the assembly last year by Sindh Minister for Culture Sharmila Farooqi as well as provincial minister Rubina Saadat Qaimkhani.

Both of them were part of an eight-member committee which was tasked on August 1 with preparing drafts in consultation with the stakeholders. The legislation cover child marriages, honour killings, harassment of women and acid attacks.

Farooqi submitted her version, titled Child Marriages Prohibition Act, 2013, of the draft in the Sindh Assembly on August 20.

Qaimkhani’s draft, titled The Child Marriages Eradication Act, had been scrutinised by the law and women development ministries. She had said that she has re-drafted the bill tabled in 2011 by former women development minister, Tauqir Fatima Bhutto.

The Child Marriages Prohibition Act had classified the offence as cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable. The Child Marriages Eradication Act, however, had held it only as a cognizable offence.

Civil society activists, bureaucrats and the media believe it will take time to implement the bill, for which Health and Nutrition Development Society, an NGO, has been struggling for the last two years.

Sharing the history of the first such bill, Sindh Law department’s additional secretary Aslam Shaikh had earlier stated that a bill was introduced in 1929 and the age of a girl for marriage was fixed at 14 years. He had said that with an amendment, the age limit was made 16 in 1965.

The enforced Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 awards three-month maximum imprisonment and Rs1,000 fine.
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Reader Comments (50)

  • MAD
    Apr 28, 2014 - 3:27PM

    A half decent lawyer can actually challenge this law and win (if not in SC than definitely in Federal Shariat Court)

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  • Dark Knight
    Apr 28, 2014 - 3:29PM

    Great law, but the question is what are the steps that will be taken to ensure its implementation.Recommend

  • Truther
    Apr 28, 2014 - 3:34PM

    keep passing bills and not implementing them waderas

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  • zeerak
    Apr 28, 2014 - 3:47PM

    its a good law but I can bet half of those who voted for this would have keeps younger than 18

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  • Bilal
    Apr 28, 2014 - 3:50PM

    It would perhaps have been better to keep the age 16 yrs. Pakistani society won’t be able to accept 18 as cut off limit.

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  • izhar
    Apr 28, 2014 - 3:53PM

    for sure its insane…………………………………………….
    we r muslims ,this bill contradicts our teachings….after mature, marriage is appreciable.

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  • Wali
    Apr 28, 2014 - 4:06PM

    Ok but how are you going to implement with the likes of islamic ideological council and federal shariat court???Recommend

  • Necromancer
    Apr 28, 2014 - 4:07PM

    Nice, something remains still positive in PPP after all their mess

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  • peace
    Apr 28, 2014 - 4:13PM

    ridiculous. who are they to ban it when the religion allows it?

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  • peace
    Apr 28, 2014 - 4:14PM

    Ridiculous. Who are they to ban it when the religion allows it?

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  • A Paki
    Apr 28, 2014 - 4:17PM

    Sindh just entered the 20th century?

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  • Khawaja
    Apr 28, 2014 - 4:20PM

    Just made me wanting to puke. Quite a stupid law.Recommend

  • sad
    Apr 28, 2014 - 4:39PM

    So now the teenagers can have consentual sex but cannot get married. This is a black law for sure. It also is Anti-Islamic. Child marriage also not allowed in Islam.

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  • rocketeer
    Apr 28, 2014 - 4:41PM

    Wrong law. Marriage should be permitted to those persons who have reached puberty. That is when a child no longer remains a child and becomes a teenager.

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  • Ajab Khan Baloch
    Apr 28, 2014 - 4:50PM

    Please explain “punishable by law”……

    But it is a good step. But is marriage of say someone aged 17 years even with consent of parents and the young adult aged 17 years punishable?

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  • lmao
    Apr 28, 2014 - 4:51PM

    This will anger the TTP. Isn’t child marriage allowed under shariah?

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  • Amna Billoo
    Apr 28, 2014 - 5:09PM

    Due acknowledgements also go to Aurat Foundation and HANDS. These organizations have also played an important role in the persistent lobbying for the passing of this bill and the members of the assembly all acknowledged that today at the session. Thanks!!!

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  • Syed
    Apr 28, 2014 - 5:18PM

    Good initiative by G.O.S, appreciate that effort but implementation is a key 2 success .

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  • Karachi Bhai
    Apr 28, 2014 - 5:19PM

    Implementation should be ensured, good law but too late.

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  • Salman
    Apr 28, 2014 - 5:20PM

    Passing the law is a good first step and will lead to the end of this disgusting evil in our society.

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  • AnisAqeel
    Apr 28, 2014 - 5:48PM

    A good and sensible step towards rights of the weak and helpless due to stone age and outdated traditions. Can be a step forward to make at least high school education compulsory for them.

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  • Ali
    Apr 28, 2014 - 5:48PM

    Will the law be implemented in Interior Sindh, where child marriages are primarily practiced? What about girls that are kept as slaves by Sindhi Waderas and are sometimes as young as 13 or 14 yr old? Will the cases be decided by Panchaiyats or will they actually reach a court of law in Interior Sindh?

    Introducing this law is a good sign but it should not appear to be a political stunt rather should appear that children under the age of 18 be protected against our social evils all over the province.

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  • Mirza
    Apr 28, 2014 - 5:54PM

    While the ruling parties in Sindh have been maligned by both PTI and PML-N supporters there is no possibility of these two rightwing parties to pass such progressive and fair laws in their own provinces. All those new leadership talks are just talks and no action by PTI and PML-N two most reactionary parties who only show softness toward Taliban. Kudos to the ruling parties and all the members of Sindh assembly.

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  • Ashraf P
    Apr 28, 2014 - 5:54PM

    Pakistan cannot have any law that goes against Islamic principles. This law will be challenged in court.

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  • Omar Malik
    Apr 28, 2014 - 6:24PM

    A great step indeed! Kudos to the female ministers!

    Implementation is going to be a challenge and the proof of this pudding is going to be the implementation. I hope other provincial governments and the central government can learn and replicate this law.

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  • ivehadit
    Apr 28, 2014 - 6:35PM

    Excellent move. PPP is rebranding itself as the anti-Taliban. Pakistan needs to step into the modern world.

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  • Kay
    Apr 28, 2014 - 6:42PM

    And this is Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

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  • Abid P. Khan
    Apr 28, 2014 - 6:50PM

    @Dark Knight:
    “Great law, but the question is what are the steps that will be taken to ensure its implementation.”

    .
    It can be treated as a good start. A positive foundation to build upon. Something more hush hush is the birth of children outside the wedlock. A miniscule percentage of such children are taken care of by welfare organisations such as Edhi who are definitely doing a very commendable job.
    .
    Legal hindrances are not any barrier that are effective specially in the Third World yet introduction of a law forbidding bringing unwanted (unloved) children to this world could act as a mild deterrent to some degree.
    .
    This should not entail that Shariati enthusiasts like PTT should be handed over the implementation of this ruling as it would further strengthen their vigilante role as they start stoning to death, parents of such unwanted babies.
    .
    The topic needs to be discussed.

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Apr 28, 2014 - 6:50PM

    A breath of fresh air. A proverbial first step in the right direction. Education material, media blitz and education at school level will help in implementation.

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  • Muhammad
    Apr 28, 2014 - 6:51PM

    If girls run away from home and marry they say love marriage and if she marries in a decent manner with her consent then people have problem with that??? retarded people!

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  • Raj - USA
    Apr 28, 2014 - 7:09PM

    It is still a long way away from becoming an enforceable law. However, this is a good step. At the least, people have started to feel the damage to the society that old practices have caused and are trying to bring a change.

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  • Haidar
    Apr 28, 2014 - 7:23PM

    The age of consent varies from to 21 worldwide and was only enforced by UN in around 1964. It was common in Europe for people to marry as early as 4, until Napoleanic canons in 1804
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriageable_age
    I wrote several comments on these issued today. Our strategy should be to attack along these lines, that there is neither any consensus on what minimum age is, nor is it something unique to Islam. Also, the main issue raised is “what if a 9yo is married off to a 50yo?” The counter argument should be: “then do u have any problem if a 9yo wants to marry a 9yo?” This always works, as the crux of liberal values is state and god should not come between consenting adults.

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  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam (retd)
    Apr 28, 2014 - 7:43PM

    You have to have Education & change of mindset. First of all get the details of all Parliamentarians who have more than one wife.

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  • sall90
    Apr 28, 2014 - 8:05PM

    Thanks MQM for your efforts.

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  • Rex Minor
    Apr 28, 2014 - 8:41PM

    Now how long it took the Pakistanis to use their brain, to come to a straight sensible decision which is fully in conform with muslim traditions? Some readers have not fully understood the implications of life sentence being given to those who consumate under age marriages. .
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  • Apr 28, 2014 - 9:09PM

    not too sure about 18, even in west there are places where it is 18 and others where it is 16, and we are talking about west because they have their laws closest to islamic sharia (i guess)

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  • Toticalling
    Apr 28, 2014 - 9:22PM

    A step in the right direction. But there is a long way to go still. Those breaking this law must be punished without mercy. Bottom line is that those who say ‘I do’ must be mature enough. I would say 21 should be the minimum age barrier.

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  • Akhtar
    Apr 28, 2014 - 10:11PM

    So the only legal way forward left for the 17 year old Rubina is to perform sex without marriage?

    Please don’t usurp her right to live peacefully with her spouse.

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  • Hashim
    Apr 28, 2014 - 10:12PM

    A great step indeed! Kudos to the female ministers and PPP government in Sindh. Once again PPP proved that it is the only progressive party in Pakistan unlike right wing bonapartist groups like PML-N and PTI.

    Implementation is going to be a challenge and the proof of this pudding is going to be the implementation. I hope other provincial governments and the central government can learn and replicate this law.

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  • Parvez
    Apr 28, 2014 - 10:31PM

    Good…….something is better than nothing.

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  • Karachiite
    Apr 28, 2014 - 10:50PM

    All those people saying that Hazrat Aisha R.A. got married at a very early age, just check out this analysis by an Islamic scholar. He clearly explains the myth of early age marriage amongst Muslims.

    http://www.dawn.com/news/696084/of-aishas-age-at-marriage

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  • Jibran
    Apr 28, 2014 - 11:02PM

    @Khawaja:
    @rocketeer:
    @Ashraf P:
    Killing innocents seems Islamic and protecting the rights of children is un-Islamic? Whatever brand of Islam you follow, we categorically reject it.

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  • genesis
    Apr 29, 2014 - 7:13AM

    @Ashraf P:
    Religion should be secondary and social good should be primary. Only then a nation can improve otherwise it will wallow in obscure dogmas.

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  • Tahoora Javed
    Apr 29, 2014 - 8:39AM

    Shariah makes marriage permissible when one has entered puberty. I do not support early marriages, but a law being enforced against the Islamic teachings, seriously? Do you think that’s going to bring any good? And considering this new law, I suppose half of the marriages in the province will end up being illegal! :)

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  • Mj
    Apr 30, 2014 - 12:18AM

    @sad:
    “So now the teenagers can have consentual sex but cannot get married. This is a black law for sure. It also is Anti-Islamic. Child marriage also not allowed in Islam.”

    Most reliable accounts put Aisha’s age at 9 at the time of her marriage. What shall we do now? Furthermore, a girl 10-14 year old girl would almost never consent to a marriage with a much older guy, but girl’s consent is rarely given any importance in an arranged marriage.

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  • Mj
    Apr 30, 2014 - 2:37AM

    @Tahoora Javed:
    “Shariah makes marriage permissible when one has entered puberty. I do not support early marriages, but a law being enforced against the Islamic teachings, seriously? Do you think that’s going to bring any good? “

    Should we legalize slavery then?

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  • slave
    Apr 30, 2014 - 10:10AM

    age of consent is around puberty in many of your so called developed countries, wiki if you don’t believe me.

    truth is you are colonized slaves, who can’t think of their own

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  • Apr 30, 2014 - 11:37PM

    There is big question when it comes to implementation.

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  • Penny Cooper
    May 1, 2014 - 9:04PM

    Passing the law is important, but enforcement, as well as education and implementation of women’s/child rights by grassroots organization is detrimental to it’s success.

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  • Saira
    May 9, 2014 - 10:09PM

    A great step indeed! Kudos to the female ministers and PPP government in Sindh. Once again PPP proved that it is the only progressive party in Pakistan unlike right wing bonapartist groups like PML-N and PTI.
    Implementation is going to be a challenge and the proof of this pudding is going to be the implementation. I hope other provincial governments and the central government can learn and replicate this law.Recommend

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