Brides – Diary – DAWN.COM

IT is unfortunate that the country continues to lose almost 2 million young women, who could have become brilliant doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, etc., to the rigors of marriage and childbearing before they could even be legally classified as adults. It seems that our patriarchal mores, which place much more importance on women’s traditional roles as mothers, housekeepers and caregivers, end up depriving the country of a great deal of talent and human resources that could have helped to progress.

Ironically, despite an overwhelming increase in the number of female students in schools, colleges and universities in urban areas, the custom of child marriage remains deeply entrenched in villages and small towns – unfortunately, there are many examples in the most “developed” cities. as well. Outdated traditions, which view girls as a burden to be rid of by marrying them off early, sustain a practice linked to a number of social and health issues. There is ample evidence to suggest that underage brides – often married to much older men – remain vulnerable to serious damage to their biological, mental and intellectual health. They are prone to domestic and sexual abuse from their partners and to developing health problems because they bear children before their bodies are ready to give birth. It is unfortunate that the laws that should provide protection against this practice remain toothless in the face of the regressive tradition. Only Sindh has a marriage law that sets the minimum age of marriage at 18 (it is 16 in the rest of the country) but even so it is barely enforced in the province. In fact, according to some estimates, Sindh has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the country. Meanwhile, a recent ruling by the Islamabad High Court should prompt other provinces to revise their own laws. It is time for the authorities to take stock of this sinister practice which harms the well-being of millions of young girls across the country.

Posted in Dawn, August 27, 2022

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