Underage, under law: G-B lawmakers block bill to ban child marriages

GILGIT: Lawmakers in the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly have blocked a bill seeking a ban on child marriages, terming it un-Islamic. The bill, tabled in the assembly by Parliamentary Secretary for Law Aurangzeb Khan on Tuesday, called for banning any and all marriages under the age of 18.

However, speaker Fida Muhammad Nashad referred the bill to a committee and drafted it for review after members of the assembly, including those in the treasury benches, refused to endorse the bill on religious grounds. “The bill needs to be reviewed as there are different opinions over what should be the appropriate age for marriage,” said Nashad, before referring the bill to the committee.

Never too young

While presenting the bill, Aurangzeb said marriages under the age of 18 would become a crime and violators would be prosecuted.

Deputy speaker Jafarullah Khan said he cannot support the bill as he thought it is fine to get married between 15 and 18 years of age.

Haji Rizwan of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal refused to endorse the bill, saying it is against “divine laws”.

Minister for Forests Muhammad Wakeel also jumped on the bandwagon, saying the bill was against Shariah and therefore could not be endorsed. “This house does not have jurisdiction over laws made by God,” said the lawmaker, adding the bill is not only against Shariah but also local traditions.

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