Demand for 18 to be legal age for marriage

The authorities and political decision-makers must set the minimum age of marriage at 18 years for both sexes, without exception, a press conference titled ‘Protect Constitutional Rights of Religious Minorities of Pakistan’ has demanded.

The event was jointly organized by the Minority Caucus (MC), AWAM Pakistan, Minority Women Forum (MWF), and Working Group on Protection of Minority Rights at Faisalabad Press Club. Participants noted that despite statutes to protect women’s rights, harmful practices that discriminate against women, such as abduction, child marriage and forced marriages still continue. Furthermore, in the context of the rising number cases of religious conversion and underage marriages of minority communities’ girls, the participants demanded state action.

The panelists include Lala Robin Daniel, President MC; Shazia George, Executive Director AWAM; Naumana Suleman, founder MWF; Merry James, representative MWF; Tahira Anjum, representative Working Group and vice-president MC, and other minority leaders. Lala Robin Daniel and Tahira Anjum stated that “the trend of converting minor girls belonging to religious minorities for solemnizing marriages and the shelter given by religious clerics and support from law enforcers have made the constitutional provisions regarding the equal status of citizenship and religious freedom dubious. Yasir Talib, joint secretary MC, called upon the authorities to take appropriate measures to protect the minority girls/women from abductions, religious conversions and underage marriages.