Bill aiming to ban child marriages shot down

Published: January 15, 2016



Another move to ban child marriages in Pakistan has fallen at the first hurdle. The bill to prohibit underage marriages has been withdrawn after the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) declared it un-Islamic.

The ruling party lawmaker, who moved the bill, withdrew her proposal on Thursday following staunch resistance from the council, which advises the legislature whether or not a certain law is Sharia-compliant.

Child marriage restraint bill : Activists lash out at govt for preparing flawed draft

The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony rejected the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014 after the CII dubbed it ‘anti-Islamic’ and ‘blasphemous’.

The committee meeting, which was presided over by its Chairman Hafiz Abdul Karim, unanimously rejected the bill on ‘purely religious grounds’. Afterwards, PML-N’s Marvi Memon also withdrew her proposal.

The proposed legislation had recommended harsher punishments for those entering conjugal contracts with minors.

Last week, lawmakers in the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly had also blocked a bill seeking ban on child marriages over similar concerns.

Of child marriages and medieval mindsets

The CII has already ruled the minimum age stipulated for marriage in the Child Marriages Restriction Act of 1929 does not comply with Islamic laws.

In May 2014, amid severe criticism from various quarters, the council had endorsed its earlier ruling that girls as young as nine years old were eligible to be married “if the signs of puberty are visible”.

About two years ago, CII Chairman Mohammad Khan Sheerani told the National Assembly that the council had given its recommendations over the suggested law and this should not have been discussed anymore.

He made these comments after Marvi had introduced the bill seeking amendments in the marriage act. The bill was then backed by MNAs Asiya Naz Tanoli, Muhammad Pervaiz Malik and Shaista Pervaiz.

Sheerani had opposed the proposed amendments, saying they were contrary to Islamic teachings and laws.

Opposition to anti-child marriage bill

“Parliament cannot create legislation that is against the teachings of the Holy Quran or Sunnah,” he had said while backing his arguments with relevant laws and a few references from the Holy Quran and Hadith.

According to Islamic laws, marriage can be solemnised when a girl attains puberty, Sheerani claimed. Under the Constitution, the CII chairman is the final authority in the council with the choice to overrule the voice of all members. While the CII’s decisions are not binding on parliament, they are treated as the guiding principles to frame laws.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (58)

  • Fawad
    Jan 15, 2016 - 10:53AM

    Shame on these lawmakers, if the 9 year girl can get married, then what is the age of child in Child rape case recently. They can all fight case that they were adult and get lesser punishment. Who in right mind will marry off young kid, who can’t take care of themselves, forget about future children they will bear at young age.Recommend

  • HonkyTonk Man
    Jan 15, 2016 - 12:37PM

    If anyone wanted any reason as to why religion should not be the Business of the State…. here it is. Recommend

  • Javaid
    Jan 15, 2016 - 12:58PM

    Ban CII instead. Everybody would be happpy with it. Recommend

  • karl
    Jan 15, 2016 - 1:20PM

    Will any one of the gentlemen in the CII allow his 9 year old daughter to be married off?Recommend

  • Jan 15, 2016 - 2:52PM

    Read somewhere recently that previously believers shaped their lives to follow the religion and now they are shaping religion to follow their lives or beliefs. Islam cannot be illogical or brutal. Child age marriage is both and hence cannot be a practice that Islam can encourage. The mullahs have to understand that a girl reaching puberty and hence being of marriageable age is one thing (and let’s say we accept this edict), but a law prohibiting child marriage is another thing, not at all contradicting the first edict. No where does Islam say that just because a girl-child is of marriageable age, her marriage should not be delayed if it is serving a higher social purpose and is better for both the girl and for society.Recommend

    Jan 15, 2016 - 3:05PM

    I am not a scholar on this topic but instead of defining age , the law should be different for different individuals. A girl below 18 years should get a medical fitness certificate from a gynecologist to be eligible for marriage. May be a girl as young as 15 is eligible for marriage but a girl as young as 17 years is not. That is why Islam has not defined a lower age limit. Instead medical fitness is the criteria.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jan 15, 2016 - 3:34PM

    This simply shows the perverted thinking of our Law makers and our clergy. Recommend

  • Omar
    Jan 15, 2016 - 4:07PM

    If the CII’s decisions are not binding under the Constitution, I think it’s mainly the failure of the parliament to assume itself a hostage to such unrepresentative bodies. They could have set aside the opinions of the CII but they don’t seem to be bothered.Recommend

    Jan 15, 2016 - 7:04PM

    You are all trying to superimpose 20th century man made rules of female maturity, left to us by our colonial masters, over rules made by the Great Lawgiver. A female is ready for marriage when she has her period. Period! Surely the law of God cannot be inferior to the laws of man? I feel Mr. Shirani is doing a sterling service by explaining the “mind” of God, as it were, and guiding our lawmakers to make laws that do not run foul of the Divine Will. Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Jan 15, 2016 - 11:23PM

    More evidence how modern and progressive Pakistan has become! LOL!
    Hope this makes the world media sites to showcase Pakistani mindset!Recommend

  • Sania
    Jan 15, 2016 - 11:26PM

    Paedophiles, the lot of them! Recommend

  • Sistine
    Jan 15, 2016 - 11:27PM

    No but they would probably marry someone else’s nine year old daughter very happily! Disgusting! Recommend

  • Naeem Khan
    Jan 15, 2016 - 11:44PM

    It did not surprise me at all. I recall Moulana Mufti Mahmood of DIK K-P had married a 16 years girl while he was in his 60s. Shame on these religious outfits and so called religious scholars who thinks that it is un-Islamic to put a ban on children’s getting married. Shame on the Parliament to with draw the proposal, are we living in the dark ages. By the way who needs this Council of Islamic Ideology telling us who is Muslim and who is not. We grow up studying Islam and understand Islam and we don’t need some people sitting there on the pay roll of Public tax payers money telling us about Shariah laws. We know what those laws are. Recommend

  • ahmed
    Jan 16, 2016 - 12:20AM

    Perhaps what no one is talking about is the age of the husbands in these child marriages.Recommend

  • Skywalker
    Jan 16, 2016 - 1:04AM

    Seems all comments above are from men. I would like sisters to comment on this issue.Recommend

  • Uzair
    Jan 16, 2016 - 1:06AM

    KJBUTT: Sorry, but pedophilia is pedophilia, we don’t need western philosophy to tell us that a young child of 9 or 10 or 12 is not ready mentally, emotionally, and physically to raise children, much less have sexual intercourse with a man potentially much older than her.Recommend

  • Umair
    Jan 16, 2016 - 1:28AM

    When will the CII rule on the appropriate marital age of a boy? Would boys have to get medicinal certificates to get married too? Recommend

  • Siddiqui
    Jan 16, 2016 - 1:42AM

    The hypocrisy of these people is quite evident when they only pretend to follow the Islamic teaching which also includes several other aspects to a marriage. The most fundamental one being it the freedom for the girl or the boy to choose who to marry. Then comes to rules on the rights and responsibilities of a wife and a husband towards each other. Except, all that and this decision is actually based on the primitive cultures/traditions of those regions that they want to hold on to under the pretext of it being Islamic. Please, do not taint the teachings of Islam by mixing your own perverted interpretations and act like this is Sharia. It isn’t.Recommend

  • flipfliop
    Jan 16, 2016 - 1:50AM

    Our country is is run and voted by ignorant people who lack knowledge of Islam and science. I am amazed that we allow such people to take floor and lead us. Only if their daughters get raped and are forced to marry only then they might pass this law. We all are humans but lack humanity, amd dignity.Recommend

  • saad
    Jan 16, 2016 - 1:55AM

    Signs of Puberty? What does that even mean? As we progress and science advance, our learning of medicine changes and soon we will be able to do a simple blood test to measure the “signs of puberty” in stead of using Taner Stages. So those poor girls will start getting married at a much earlier age than now. Recommend

  • Muslim First
    Jan 16, 2016 - 2:04AM

    There is no age of marriage in Islam. A girl can be married as soon as she born. But marriage can be solemnised when a girl attains puberty, period. If it get solemnised before that then it is responsibility of girl to produce four Muslim pious men to prove. Pakistan was created in the name of Allah and to practice Islamic laws.

    Abu Bakr did.Recommend

  • Tayyab
    Jan 16, 2016 - 2:08AM

    Another testament of what happens when ‘faith’ and ‘clergy’ is given the power to engage in state affairs. To not pass this bill is more like turning down an anti-pedophilia bill. Goes to show the very tainted mindsets in our hierarchy.Recommend

  • Imran
    Jan 16, 2016 - 2:23AM

    The minimum age required to become:
    Member of National Assembly: 25 years
    Member of Senate of Pakistan: 30 years
    President of Pakistan: 45 years

    (source: Constitution of Pakistan)

    Age is also reflective of wisdom, strength and maturity – the person of interest is capable of.
    Does ‘period’ tantamount to maturity and understanding? Sometime back lamenting on the state of affairs Hassan Nisar said cows/buffaloes are injected with chemicals to produce more milk. This contaminated milk adversely affect health by triggering hormonal imbalance and even boys could develop feminine characters. Too much to lament on really. But treating a child because of his/her physical condition ‘fit’ for marriage without consideration to other important aspects of life is crazy and callous. May God’s blessings and mercy be upon Pakistan.Recommend

  • Unbelievable
    Jan 16, 2016 - 2:29AM

    How oppressed you must feel, having such a thing imposed upon you! If only your government would protect your right to manage your Affairs unmolested. How dare they force such notions upon you without your consent or even capacity of consent. My heart bleeds for you.

    (Would you please read this to your 8 year old wife for me?)Recommend

  • Omar
    Jan 16, 2016 - 2:34AM

    Stay classy.Recommend

  • khanm
    Jan 16, 2016 - 2:52AM

    @ZUBAIR, women are not just like cattle in your backyard whom you just intend to reproduce babies, how does a girl know what is happening to her if she is married at 15 years medically fit but mentally not mature enough. It is everybody’s responsibility to make sure girls are married only after they are mature enough to take care of themselves and stand on their own feet if needed.Recommend

  • I. Khan
    Jan 16, 2016 - 3:00AM

    Some girls reach puberty as early as age ten and if we follow the Council of Islamic Ideology then these ten years old can get married. Marital relationship is not the only purpose tor a girl to get married, she must also be old enough to make decisions, look after house hold and be ready to take care of her babies. Girls must be at least 18 before they are married.Recommend

  • Perry
    Jan 16, 2016 - 3:22AM

    Sick, horrible, morally corrupt people. Marriage can only take place when puberty is complete. Beyond the moral reasons and the obvious physical and mental abuse of that young girl, she will be traumatized for life from such a thing. Not to mention she is far more likely to die during pregnancy or labour at that age.Recommend

  • neal
    Jan 16, 2016 - 4:07AM


    What an interesting concept of defining a woman is ready to marry based off her puberty status. We may as well replace “to marry” with “sold into slavery”.Recommend

  • Austin
    Jan 16, 2016 - 4:27AM

    Yes, because they view females as property, less than human. Having a daughter is having a burden that they wish to sell off as soon as possible. Those little girls and women are worth however much a man is willing to pay for them, they have no rights. That is what their culture decrees. The idea of treating all humans as humans requires a certain degree of compassion and logic, the only reason modern countries tend to have this is due to at least some secularization. Recommend

  • Will
    Jan 16, 2016 - 4:33AM

    @karl: They probably would.Recommend

  • Ashfaq
    Jan 16, 2016 - 5:01AM

    We need a dharna now to stop this non sense. This is a shameful act and mullahs supporting this need to be rounded up under NAP for bringing country and religion into disrepute.Recommend

  • brar
    Jan 16, 2016 - 5:48AM

    @ZUBAIR: I did not under stand what you want to say if there is no such thing in Islam i.e. age limit for marriage then why the bill has not been passed.Recommend

  • Komal S
    Jan 16, 2016 - 7:16AM

    This is exactly the reason it is best to go with age. For the most part a 18 year old will behave like a 18 year old. Of course there will be exceptions, but to define a scientific test to allow a religious diktat is a non-starter in the first place.It is funny in 21 st century, Islamic countries still debating child marriages. Funny thing even progressive countries like Malaysia and Indonesia could not ban this. Recommend

  • Rahul
    Jan 16, 2016 - 8:56AM

    So you’re saying that in Islam it doesn’t matter if the girl is mentally ready to marry or not but she should be physically ready to have sex? Is that what you’re trying to imply?Recommend

  • Aizaz
    Jan 16, 2016 - 11:24AM

    In Islam it is permitted but not without guardian’s consent who is mature enough to allow it. So this decision rests upon him. But when women reach maturity, mentally, her denial to marriage will be considered enough. Islam does not allow girls, as young as 8 years old, to get married without legal guardianship because she is just a child and can be manipulated. Thus it is not unfair, those guardians who allow it, having the knowledge she is not medically fit, they are the real culprits.Recommend

  • Rabia
    Jan 16, 2016 - 4:22PM

    When will we be rid of this backward bronze age nonsense and start thinking with our heads instead of being held hostage to imaginary monsters in the sky. Recommend

  • Bangkok
    Jan 16, 2016 - 5:38PM

    If a person is not considered responsible enough to drive or to vote until 18 then they surely not responsible enough to get married until 18. Someone should check the fitness of these Retarded lawmakers.Recommend

  • John B
    Jan 16, 2016 - 6:15PM

    The CII is correct. The proposed legislation does not comply with Sharia and PAK is constitutionally bound by sunnah. Whether we agree with the child marriage or not is irrelevant since the legislation itself is unconstitutional in pak. Pak can’t have it both ways. Recommend

  • vgp
    Jan 16, 2016 - 9:58PM

    @Fawad: Well if the Boss can marry a 9 year old what can the rest do?Recommend

  • Anum
    Jan 17, 2016 - 12:30AM

    This is infuriating. Protect women at all costs!Recommend

  • Abrams
    Jan 17, 2016 - 1:20AM

    It’s not a simple physical matter. You are treating a girl as a sex object. Marriage is not just so a woman can have children.
    It is not civilized behaviour to adults to marry children. And it is not civilized behaviour to make laws based on bronze age myths.Recommend

  • PakPower
    Jan 17, 2016 - 3:25AM

    Wow. CII is the most useless organization in Pakistan – dismantle it already. Nowhere does Islam calls for minor children to be married!Recommend

  • Shoaib
    Jan 17, 2016 - 4:26AM

    Mullahs reject only those bills which can act as hurdles in their own sexual life.Recommend

  • Rahul
    Jan 17, 2016 - 9:59AM

    Oh yes it does. According to the sharia law a girl is eligible to be married as soon as she’s born. There’s no age limit set in the Qur’an for a girl to be married. Although the law also states that intercourse can only happen whenever the child is old enough to “handle” the penetration. No where does it say in Islam that children are not supposed to be married. The CII in this case is actually correct in their perception because they’re only defending what is mentioned in the Qur’an. (Qur’an 65:4)Recommend

  • HH
    Jan 17, 2016 - 11:16AM

    How do you know that a woman starting her period is eligible for marriage? Is the sole purpose of marriage the ability to conceive/give birth to a child?
    Marriage also needs both partners to be mentally mature and responsible.
    Also, do you realize that just because a woman has started menstruating, it does not mean she is fit to bear children?Recommend

  • pankaj
    Jan 17, 2016 - 11:58AM

    Western conspiracy? Recommend

  • Pakistani liberal
    Jan 17, 2016 - 1:21PM

    Their should not be a ban on child marriages. Don’t act as western liberal act as Pakistani.
    Look a person in Islam is responsible for one action as he reaches puberty. Now that age varies. so the final decision to marry is of the girl or boy . They should not be forced that is a different issue . Once the girl or boy have attained puberty and want to get married it is their decision and the government has no right to interfere. As far as forced marriages are concerned yes there should be laws where the boy and girl can move to court against there parents. That what needs to be done.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Jan 17, 2016 - 2:52PM

    There is no wisdom like the wisdom that flows from a 12 year old. My granddaughter watching this on TV wanted to know what this was all about……I explained it in simple understandable terms ….. she thought about this and some 2 minutes later said ‘ I think it should be 22 ‘. Recommend

  • Xee Shan
    Jan 17, 2016 - 4:02PM

    These jahil stooges sitting in the socalled islami nazriyati counil are child abusers themselves.
    This joke must be abolished. If these jahils are child abusers then they have nothing to do in a such nazriyati council.
    They are polluting Islam.Recommend

  • freed
    Jan 17, 2016 - 5:23PM

    Speechless, for once.Recommend

  • Sobia Gul
    Jan 17, 2016 - 6:30PM

    I think the best age for a girl to get marry is 16 years.So she should not wait to become an aunty.Recommend

  • Rizwan
    Jan 17, 2016 - 11:42PM

    Puberty in early times was considered as a mark of a person being old enough to make is own decisions. Both boys and girls used to marry early. But times have changed now. Many boys and girls even in their late teens are incapable of making those kind out decisions. So how can a girl who can barely take care of herself be considered old enough to care for her house, husband and soon a child?Recommend

  • brar
    Jan 18, 2016 - 5:40AM

    Prof. Hudbuoy was delivering a lecture regarding implementing of Sharia in Pakistan and said that one of her fellow teacher in Qaid Azam University who teaches political science was teaching types of states and asked a question as to how many of you will like to have Sharia law in Pakistan and 100% raised their hands in the support and then she asked suppose commit a crime will you like to be tried in Saudia or UK ie in democratic country or Islamic country and she was astonished to see that 99% opted for UK, now the supporters ofIslamic state shere sharia is fully implemented which these Mullas want can decide whether they will like to be governed by these Mullas.Recommend

  • Really
    Jan 18, 2016 - 1:11PM

    Where are the militant feminists now? The same ones that say that taharrush and rape culture is not a cultural thing but a gender issue. Recommend

  • Lyra
    Jan 20, 2016 - 1:17PM

    I was 11 when I had my first period. It took me another 10 years before I was emotionally and mentally ready to sexual intercourse.Recommend

  • E.A. Blair
    Feb 3, 2016 - 9:33PM

    Even in the United States, it is possible in most states to legally marry someone who is below the age of consent (in all cases, this means a minor). In almost all of these cases, the permission of the minor’s parents (and, sometimes, the additional permission of a judge) is required*. The lowest legally defined marriageable age in a US state is 12, and six states have no legally defined minimum marriageable age.

    *In Texas, a girl as young as fourteen can legally marry without her parents’ consent, provided she was previously married and is either divorced or widowed.Recommend

  • John
    Feb 5, 2016 - 5:42AM

    Of course the members of the council would allow their very own 9-year-old daughters to be married off. They are all old, sick men. They would, of course, wish to have the gift reciprocated by the purchaser of their children. They probably would also wish to ensure, by voyeurism and participation, that their child is treated correctly according to their Stone Age rules.
    In short, they are themselves paedophiles. Recommend

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