KARACHI: Being deeply concerned over the purported marriage of 14-year-old Dua Zehra, the National Commission on the Rights of Child (NCRC) has called upon the federal and provincial governments, parliamentarians, law enforcement agencies, civil society and concerned stakeholders to devise a strategy by reviewing all the child marriage-related laws prevalent in Pakistan.
In Dua Zehra case, it later transpired that she had allegedly contracted marriage of her own free will with a boy, Zaheer Ahmed, of Lahore despite the fact that she was an underage person according to the respective child marriages prohibition laws both in Punjab and Sindh.
Amid growing child marriages, the NCRC called upon the authorities to investigate the occurrences of such incidents in an impartial manner, and to hold the perpetrators and the accused accountable for their crime. They asked that the alleged violators and accused be dealt with according to law and in future no one should be allowed totake the law into their hands.
Pakistan is state party to many international conventions, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and United Nation Convention on the Right of Child (UNCRC), which prohibit child marriages. But there are cases such as of Dua, Arzoo and Nimra Kazmi still happening in Sindh.
The commission reiterated that child marriage was a form of rights violation, which took away a child`s right to safe and healthy childhood and education, depriving him/ her of economic opportunities and social and political empowerment.
Child marriage is a global phenomenon where 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 years. At least one child marriage occurs after every two seconds.
Though Pakistan is a state party to several conventions, some 21 per cent girls in Pakistan are married before their 18th birthday while three per cent before the age of 15.
According to Unicef, Pakistan is the sixth country having the highest number of child brides in the world.