PESHAWAR: A joint sit-in was organised outside Peshawar Press Club on Thursday by NGOs to rally for an end to early child and forced marriages.
Groups like Alliance, Blue Veins, Tribal NGO consortium, MEN UNiTE, Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network and National Coordination Group were joined by teachers, working women and students.
Participants demanded the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government provide a time frame in which the legislation could be enacted. The bill paves the way to deal with pending cases and can help prevent future instances of child marriages in K-P.
“The K-P government has shown a lack of will in addressing the issue of child marriages. Through this sit-in, we are calling on the provincial government to table the K-P Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2015 in the provincial assembly without delay, “said Qamar Naseem, coordinator of Alliance.
Protesters complained the government showed poor will in the past to introduce this bill in the K-P Assembly. According to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey for 2012-13, the statistics for child marriages are significantly alarming especially in K-P.
Naseem added the federal government announced it would prevent child marriages in 2015 through the support of Sustainable Development Goals. “Yet, three years later, child marriage remains a significant problem in Pakistan.”
He said, “UNICEF reports 21% girls in Pakistan are married before they are 18.” According to reports from Human Rights Commission, the child marriage rates for 2012 were as high as 74% for certain districts of K-P.
Protesters demanded the government deliver on its commitment to end child marriages and set-up plans to end the practice by 2030.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.