Few days after the law in Sindh foiled a bid to marry 10 years old minor with a 45 years old man and then a heated debate on the issue followed which clearly divided our political representatives as well – there is no better time to reflect on the issue and see how important it is to speak about it.
While the gender discrimination and suppression of female rights particularly have been the centre of discussion throughout 2018, to keep pace with the modern world, Pakistan clearly needs to do a lot more. According to a recent report by WHO (World Health Organization), 21pc girls fall victim to the curse of child marriage in Pakistan.
It further stated that 140 million underage girls are likely to get married between 2011 to 2020 – quite daunting in itself. In rural areas, girls are more likely to get married before reaching the adult age i.e 18 years old.
The report further added that informal union or formal marriage before the age of 18 years happens everywhere in the world, however, what adds to the intensity of the problem in Pakistan is that they are forced or happens without the consent of the individuals involved. This violates basic human rights.
Speaking of the provincial divide, the percentage stood higher for Sindh. While the practice rampant all across Pakistan, it is more commonly adopted in Sindh primarily due to low literacy rate. 72 per cent girls and 25 per cent boys becoming victims to this curse in the province. However, the practice has a more harrowing and daunting shape in tribal areas of Pakistan, where 99% of the girls are married before the age of 18.
Early marriages are linked with the child mortality rate as well. Here, need to take into consideration that Pakistan has the highest child mortality rate in the world. It also has a high maternal mortality rate – which is linked with teenage pregnancies, inadequate health facilities and lack of awareness.
Underage pregnancies take a toll on the female as well as infant health, leading to higher deaths during pregnancies or after giving birth.