CII warns of ‘complications’ in setting age limit for marriage

Published: May 3, 2019
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ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) said on Friday any legislation to ban child marriage would lead to complications, suggesting to the government to instead launch an awareness campaign to discourage the trend of early marriages.

The CII gave its inputs on two bills, one approved by the Senate that fixes the age limit for marriage of a girl at 18 years, while another bill which remains pending in the National Assembly. The panel urged the government to address the causes, which lead to the marriage of under-aged girls.

“The better way to tackle the practice of child marriage is to start an awareness campaign among the masses instead of passing legislation,” the CII said. “Legislating against child marriage and setting the age limit will lead to many complications,” it added.

The CII deliberated on the matter in its 212th meeting, held in September last year. During the discussion on a bill, which was originally moved by then senator Seher Kamran, the CII’s research department presented a 10-page detailed report.

The report detailed age limits for marriage in 12 Muslim countries, along with the opinion of leading Islamic scholars for and against setting the age limit. After a three-hour debate, the session agreed with [the late] Mufti Muhammad Shafi that the trend of under-age marriage should not be encouraged.

The CII agreed that under-age marriages create problems. It concluded that “legislation on this matter would also lead to many complications. It urged the government to initiate an awareness campaign with the support of religious scholars to curb this trend. It also called on the government to take solid steps to eliminate the causes, which compelled some families to marry minor girls.

The CII is an official panel of scholars, whose function is to advise parliament on whether laws are in consonance with Islamic injunctions. The statement on Friday came days after the Senate passed the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

The bill, which proposes that the minimum age for marriage be set at 18 was passed amid noisy opposition from religious parties and some members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). Some of the opposing senators had argued that the bill should be sent to CII before being tabled in the house.

A similar bill was also tabled in the National Assembly by a PTI lawmaker a day after the Senate passed the anti-child marriage bill. The bill in the National Assembly also faced strong opposition from members of the ruling party.

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