Great news! On April 29, the Sindh Provincial Assembly passed the Child Marriage Restraint Act, which outlaws the marriage of anyone under the age of 18. The new law allows for a fine of 45,000 rupees (approximately $700) and imprisonment up to three years of anyone who “performs, conducts, directs, brings about or in any way facilitates any child marriage” and any parent or guardian who permits or fails to prevent a marriage from taking place.
IWHC’s partner Aahung is helping to spread the word about the new law in communities and in schools so that young people are aware of their rights.
In Pakistan, 7 percent of girls under the age of 15, and 24 percent of girls under 18 are married. Before the law passed, Sindh had the highest rates of child marriage among all four provinces: 33 percent of women ages 20-24 in Sindh were married before they turned 18.
In a comment published on May 1, the editorial board of the Dawn newspaper wrote:
However, simply passing a law is just the first step; the only way society’s ills will be addressed and done away with is if these laws are enforced through a proper mechanism. For example, various progressive laws against crimes such as honour killing, sexual harassment and domestic violence have been passed at various levels over the past few years. Yet these crimes continue unabated largely due to lax enforcement. And when regressive customs such as child marriage are so deep-rooted in society, it will take considerable time and effort from both the state and communities to eradicate them.
An anti-child marriage bill similar to Child Marriage Restraint Act was introduced in Punjab Province, and another bill is pending before the National Assembly that would increase fines and jail time for perpetrators of child marriage.