By Staff Reporter
KARACHI: The Chief Executive of Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS), Dr Shaikh Tanveer Ahmed yesterday expressed his serious concern over the Senate Standing Committee on Interior’s move rejecting the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2017. In a statement, Dr Shaikh deplored that similar bill was drafted and passed into law by Sindh Assembly in 2013 with efforts of civil society in general and HANDS in particular, which according to him, was giving the positive results in the backward areas of the province like Tharparkar district. “The prime factor behind the deaths of infants and expecting mothers in Thar is the curse of early or child marriages and those opposed the same bill in Senate are totally unaware of the ground realities in the backward areas of the country,” added Dr Shaikh. He maintained that girls should be given their rights of choice to marry when they reach their maturity age like most of other countries. Girls as young as 10 are being married off in Pakistan even though the legal minimum age for getting married is 16 and this is because they do not get their CNICs made. “That is why I suggested the minimum age for getting married be raised to 18. If the government thinks 16-year-old girls are adults, they should also be issued driving licenses and allowed to cast votes,” he added. He called upon the rights activists to voice their concerns and exert the pressure so that the same bill be again tabled in the Upper House of the country, which according to him, was the only way to give protection to girls from being forced to face trauma of early marriages.