A female member of Pakistan’s parliament recently introduced legislation to set the minimum age for marriage at 18 for women as well as men. Under current Pakistani law, it’s 16 for women.
On January 14, her proposal was withdrawn by a parliamentary committee after the Council of Islamic Ideology, a body established in 1962 to advise the parliament on Islamic law, denounced the change as “anti-Islamic” and “blasphemous.”
This decision keeps Pakistan on the wrong side of human rights protections in the Islamic world. Change is happening on child marriage, including in countries that, like Pakistan, are committed to upholding Islamic values. In 2009, Afghanistan, an Islamic republic, set tough new penalties for child marriage. The prime minister of Bangladesh, another majority Muslim country, has pledged to end all child marriage by 2041.
By Heather Barr
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