Rising cases of child marriage cause concern in Pak

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Representative Image
Representative Image

Islamabad [Pakistan], May 5 (ANI): Child marriage is the most horrifying among the many serious poverty-related issues plaguing Pakistan, experts said.

According to a recent report, the poverty rate in Pakistan has reached an alarming 31.3 per cent. One of the major concerns of the people is the marriage of their children, mainly because the underprivileged families seldom send their children to schools, reported The Nation.

The boys in these families start working from a very small age, while girls are trained for household work and married quickly, which inevitably lead to underage marriages.

Citing an organisation named Sahil, The Nation reported that a total of 119 cases of child marriages were reported, out of which 95 per cent were of girls and five per cent were of boys.

Other reasons of child marriages in Pakistan are culture, tribal traditions and exchange marriage. However, experts say that poverty is the gravest reason.

"In newly merged tribal districts and Malakund district, people take Rs 500,000 to Rs 2,000,000 from men wanting to marry their underage girls. Most of these men are wealthy and already married," said Qaiser Khan, a political activist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

As per a UNICEF report in 2020, 21 per cent girls in Pakistan get married before age of 18, while three per cent get married before turning 15, reported The Nation.

"The country has the sixth-highest number of child brides in the world (1,909,000). The median age of marriage is the lowest in rural areas and in Gilgit-Baltistan," the report said.

Meanwhile, experts are now concerned that in near future, the situation might aggravate in the country, as the government has announced a complete lockdown in 20 cities of Punjab.

Many observers have said that the rising cases of child marriages are because they are done in the name of culture or even religion. The issues, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan, have deep roots of 'culture', 'norm' and 'tradition'.

"Early marriage affects the psychological well-being and intellectual, personal and social growth of the child... Robbed of happy childhood experiences, given an incomplete education that mars career prospects later, overburdened with responsibilities and subjected to domestic violence, there is an increased risk of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in such children," said Kishwar Enam, a paediatrician.

Activists have urged the government to take major steps to tackle the issue, including harsh punishments, according to The Nation. (ANI)