ISLAMABAD, Sept 10: In Pakistan, early marriages have become a form of violence against women. About 37 per cent women in the country get married before reaching the age of 18 years. This was stated by participants of a workshop here on Monday.
They said Pakistanis were more involved in forced marriages as compared to people of other Muslim countries. Even in Europe, member of the Pakistani community force their daughters to marry a man of their choice, creating embarrassment for the community.
The consultation workshop on ‘Girl child marriages’ was organised jointly by ActionAid, Plan International and Bedari to develop and endorse a five-year campaign to bring about changes at policy and programme level on the issue.
Imtiaz Ahmad from SPARC and Qadeer Baig from Rutgers WPF shared their experiences and the best practices with the audience. The participants were informed that customs and traditions like Vani, Swara, Vulvar and Watta Satta played a significant role in girls’ early marriages. Girls are seen as a burden on the family, and are married off at an early age. In some cases, grooms are required to pay money to the father of the girl. Dispute settlement is another important reason; girls are given to solve disputes.
Talking to Dawn, Qadeer Baig said his NGO had conducted a survey in six districts of rural areas and reached the conclusion that in rural areas 61 per cent women get married before reaching the age of 18 years.
Read the full article at: Dawn.com
Qadeer Baig is Country Representative of Rutgers WPF in Pakistan.
Rutgers WPF Pakistan conducts an advocacy project called "AGE" (Adolescent Girls Empowerment) in the province Sindh which aims to change the socio-cultural norm of early marriages for adolescent girls through awareness raising, advocacy and legislative change. Early marriages and pregnancies lead to women disempowerment and affect their physical, mental, sexual and emotional health and well being.
The primary focus of the project is on community leaders and decision makers within the households and the community, and relevant policy makers including Members of the Provincial Assembly and the Provincial/National Assembly Women’s Caucus. Advocacy initiatives are being undertaken with these groups to gain their support to end the practice of early marriage and encouraging the passing the Child Marriage Bill forward. Awareness raising efforts are being undertaken with parents, especially fathers, grandparents, and other family elders who make decisions regarding marriage within the family.
In this project Rutgers WPF Pakistan is working closely together with Plan, and Bedari.