Child marriages have been occurring since the inception of Pakistan and in the past, the matter has not received much attention. Most child marriages tend to occur in rural areas especially in the lower socio-economic bracket. Statistics have shown that 21% of girls are married below the age of 18 years.
This is not the first time that such an amendment has been brought forward. In May 2017, the National Assembly rejected a proposal that would have increased the legal marriageable age to 18 years nationwide. A bill to the same effect was also rejected in 2014 by Pakistan’s National Assembly but was passed by the Sindh Assembly as the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act which prohibits marriage under the age of 18.
Read more from ProperGaanda: Facts About Child Marriage in Pakistan
However in February 2017, the Parliament adopted an amendment to the Penal Code that would effectively toughen punishment against child marriage. Offenders would face a minimum of five years in prison and may serve up to 10 years. The perpetrators would also face a fine of up to 1 million rupees ($9,547).