Islamabad, (Parliament Times) – National Commission on the Rights of Child is deeply concerned over the child marriage issue of a 14-year-old Dua Zehra from Sindh. It was later on transpired that
she has allegedly contracted marriage on her own free will with Zaheer Ahmed, despite the fact that she is under-age according to respective child marriages prohibition laws both in Punjab and
Sindh. Pakistan is state party to many international conventions particularly CEDAW, UNCRC which prohibit child marriages. It is one the case of its kind like Arzoo case and Nimra Kazmi case in the province of Sindh.
In the developing story, NCRC is concerned over the fact that Dua Zehra has been missing from 26th April, and despite directions of the Sindh High Court, she has not been recovered so far.
NCRC reiterates that Child marriage is a form of child rights violation which takes away a child’s right to safe and healthy childhood, quality and complete education that can lead to decent
economic opportunities, and social and political empowerment and the reasons for it should be pondered over and a possible strategy should be devised to curb this menace in its roots.
The NCRC issued various letters to different stakeholders and called upon a report of their strategies adopted during the probe into the case of Dua Zehra.
The prevailing practice of child marriage is any formal marriage or informal union where one or both parties are under 18 years of age. Child marriage is a global phenomenon where 12 million
girls are married before the age of 18 years –almost one child marriage case occurs every two seconds. every two seconds. Despite being prohibited under international covenants like CEDAW
and UNCRC, child marriage continues to rob millions of children around the world of their childhood. Though Pakistan is a state party to these conventions, child marriage is still highly prevalent, mostly in the rural and disadvantaged areas. 21% of girls in Pakistan are married
before their 18th birthday and 3% are married before the age of 15. According to UNICEF, Pakistan is the sixth country having highest number of child brides in the world.
With the growing such incidents, the NCRC stand with the aggrieved families including of Dua Zehra and calls upon authorities
i. That the occurrences of such incidents be investigated in an impartial manner and the perpetrators and the accused be held accountable for this harmful traditional practices of child marriages.
ii. that the alleged violators and accused be dealt with according to law and in future no one should be allowed to take law into their hands.
iii. That Dua Zehra be recovered and produced in the court of law to take law its own course.
iv. That the police and law enforcement agencies must be properly trained for lodging FIR and investigating the cases under the relevant law and procedures in field.
v. That an awareness campaign should be launched through the social and print media for raising the issue of child marriage, its legal implications, and social repercussions ensuing the same and the trauma the parents, children and the whole society suffer during this menace.
vi. That a proper implementation mechanism of the child marriages restriction laws like registration of marriages, NIC requirement etc. should be in place to fill the issue and provide a healing effect to the trauma aftermath of child marriage.
NCRC calls upon the Federal and Provincial Governments, parliamentarians, law enforcement agencies, civil society and concerned stake holders to sit together to devise a strategy, to review
all the child marriage related laws prevalent in Pakistan to find out gaps and fill the lacunas, such as registration of child marriages, setting the minimum age of child marriages across the provinces, qualifying the age of consent and free will, declaring the illegality of child marriages,
through awareness raising, education, rule of law, eradication of poverty, birth control.
National Commission on the Rights of Child (NCRC) was established by the Government of Pakistan under National Commission on the Rights of the Child Act- 2017. The mandate of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child in section 15 is to examine, review laws, policies, inquire into
violation of child rights, examine international instruments and undertake periodical review of existing policies and programmes on child rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation
in the best interest of children; advise the Federal Government to sign, ratify or accede to any proposed International Treaties, Protocols, etc.