The practice of child marriage has raised its head in a variety of cultures at some point in their history. Most nations were able to resolve this issue, but in Pakistan any chances of doing away with it appear to be bleak at best.
Recently, a piece of legislation introduced on banning child marriage failed to become a law, after the Council of Islamic Ideology declared the proposed bill to be un-Islamic.
Unfortunately, in Pakistan there are still too many parents who think of girls as a burden on them, and who are therefore married off as soon as they turn 8-10 years of age. This practice ends up depriving these girls of their childhood.
This is the sad reality for Pakistan, a country which has been made proud time and again by the achievements of women in their respective fields, be it Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy or Mariam Mukhtar. An important question one needs to ask those who think there is nothing wrong with child marriages is whether children have the ability to choose their life partners at a young age. Also, when is one eligible to make this decision for oneself? At what age?
If children cannot make such decisions on their own, then who do they blame for depriving them of their freedom to choose their partner?
Regardless of where our inclinations lie, we all should be ashamed for not raising our voice for those poor souls who have been married off at a young age and who have to live their entire lives under the pressure of medieval societal norms.
Every child is born with an innate talent, whether it’s a girl or a boy. They all should have the freedom to avail education and to live their lives according to their will. This is their legal right. I personally believe that if citizens take to the streets, like we do for all other, sometimes pointless, political and religious issues, then our future generations would not have to live under the fear that they currently do.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2016.
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