A bill which aimed to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18 in Pakistan has been thrown out by lawmakers after it was deemed “un-Islamic.” It also would have seen harsher penalties implemented for those who arrange and force child marriages, however the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) resisted the bill, leading to it being withdrawn.
After the CII described the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014 as both “anti-Islamic” and “blasphemous,” the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony rejected it.
Chairman of the committee, Hafiz Abdul Karim, presided over the meeting which saw the bill rejected on ‘purely religious grounds’. Afterwards, the lawmaker who proposed the bill, withdrew it.
This is not the first time the CII has voiced its opinion over child marriage. It ruled that the minimum age for marriage in the Child Marriages Restriction Act of 1929 is un-Islamic, and that girls as young as nine years old could be married “if the signs of puberty are visible.”
The CII’s rulings are not binding for parliament, however it is so influential that it often guides lawmakers in their decisions.
Child marriages are common in Pakistan, with some estimates suggesting that around 20 percent of girls in the country are married before they turn 18.
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