High rate of underage marriages in Pakistan

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 10, 2012 11:10 hrs

Islamabad, March 10 (IANS) A high number of underage marriages in Pakistan is leading to rise in violations of women's rights, a study has found.

According to a survey report issued by ActionAid Pakistan on the occasion of International Women's Day, 74 percent of the girls under the age of 16 were found to be married in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province's Charsadda and Mardan districts, the Daily Times reported.

This high rate of early-age marriages led to a number of issues and violation of girl and women's rights in the areas, said a release.

The survey found girls' birth registration to be low in the areas designated for the survey.

"Women trafficking was also found to be high in the designated areas," the release stated.

Speaking on this occasion, ActionAid Pakistan programme officer Abdul Khaliq said the Child Marriage Act 1929 was almost a century-old law and it was outdated now.

He said the law was not based on the principles of justice and needed to be amended.

"It is biased against girls as it declares the minimum age of marriage for a girl to be 16 years and 18 years for a boy," Khaliq said.

He added that the law did not stipulate strong punishment for the violators, thus encouraging early age marriages in deeply conservative areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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