This section explains what child marriage is and its key facts.
Child marriage is defined as a marriage in which either of the party is a child. Child for marriage is defined, a male below the age of 18 years and a female below the age of 16 years. This is under the Child marriage restraint Act, 1929 which is enforced in three provinces and Sindh has its Child marriage restraint Act 2014.
For the province of Sindh marriage in which either party is below the age of 18 years.
- According to Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, about 50 % of Pakistani women are married off at the average age of 19 years, with 13 % married by the time they are 15 and 40 % by the age of 18 years.
- Furthermore, 18% of Pakistani women have had their first child by age 18; 9% have begun child bearing between 15-19 years and 7 % are already mothers in those ages.
- The high prevalence of child marriages is also supported by a study on domestic violence conducted by Rutgers WPF – 61% of women covered under the study were under the age of 18 when they got married. The study also revealed that early age of marriage and low level of education are correlated: women who were married before the age of 16 are more often uneducated (70%) than women who were 16 or older when married (61%). Findings of a consultative report conducted under Rutgers WPF’s Adolescent Girls Empowerment Project revealed great physical, mental, emotional and social burden of early age marriage.
- Every year, an estimated 15 million girls aged under 18 are married worldwide with little or no say in the matter. In the developing world, one in nine girls is married before her 15th birthday and some child brides are as young as eight or nine.
- Neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers, these girls are at far greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, becoming infected with HIV/AIDS and suffering domestic violence. With little access to education and economic opportunities, they and their families are more likely to live in poverty.
- Child marriage and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
- Child marriage directly hinders the achievement of 6 of the 8 Millennium Development Goals. Simply put, the international community will not fulfil its commitments to reduce global poverty unless it tackles child marriage.
- Girls are disproportionately affected by child marriage
- While boys are sometimes subjected to early marriage, girls are disproportionately affected and form the vast majority of the victims of child marriage. A comparison of the proportion of young women aged 15-19 who were married in 2003 to young men aged 15-19 who were married in the same year found the ratio to be 72 to 1 in Mali, 8 to 1 in the US, and 6 to 1 in El Salvador.
References – Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey 2006-2007 - Domestic Violence against Women: Prevalence and Men’s perception in PGRN Districts of Pakistan - The Puppet and the Puppeteers, An Account of Consultative Process on Child Marriages - Puppet and the puppeteers report available at www.rutgerswpfpak.org/content/pdfs/IEC/AGE/AGE-CP-Report.pdf