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The Law Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is working on preparing draft law regarding child marriage. The draft law would be presented in the provincial assembly as official bill soon.

This was stated during an awareness raising session, regarding child marriages organized under the auspices of Centre for Communication Programs Pakistan here with the local journalists at Peshawar Press Club (PPC) on Saturday. Besides, Tahir Abbas from the Centre for Communication Programs, a cleric, Maulana Mohammad Sharif shared reasons, consequences and legal framework to address the issue of child marriage.

Speaking on the occasion, Maulana Mohammad Sharif said that Islam does not promote child marriage as Qur'aan says that besides attaining puberty, someone also needs to be mature enough before getting married.

He said that someone may achieve puberty at the age of 18 years, but he/she may still not be mature enough to handle the responsibilities of a family and marriage. He further explained that in Islam neither early marriage is obligatory nor forbidden.

Tahir Abbas for the Centre for Communication Programs said that the recent data of the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) 2017-18 shows that 29 percent of women (age 25-49) were married by age 18, as compared to five percent of men (30-49). About 13.5 percent of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 are married and 13 percent give birth by age 18.

They said there is no overarching law in country, except in Sindh, that upholds the minimum age of marriage for both boys and girls as being 18 years of age.

They further stated that Organization of Islamic Council (OIC) had called upon all Muslim countries through the Khartoom Declaration 2009 to take necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls and all harmful traditional or customary practices such as child marriage.

In his concluding remarks, Maulana Mohammad Sharif said that religious scholars are duty bound to educate pubic about the special problems of child marriage and consequences such as denial of right to education and serious risks to health of mothers and children.

He was of the opinion that educating youth and parents and giving them knowledge and perspective is more effective than passing legislation on the issue. Since it is more social issue and state has every right to make laws that are suitable for need of the society.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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