Ali Jan Maqsood
According to the International Treaties and Laws, anyone below the age of 18 is considered a child. Contemporarily, getting them married before the due age is catered a violation of their Human Rights as per International Law for the Children. Sadly, our province Balochistan in Pakistan is confronting serious challenges in this ground leading to disparate child marriages.
According to Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961 of Pakistan, when a child gets into an age of puberty, they can be married. As of a report of National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), puberty in Pakistan is always a never-understood phenomenon. Everyone makes it sound as per their personal experience although it differs from person to person.
On the other hand, the growing child marriages in the province have directly affected the literacy rate of the province_ specifically among the female gender.
According to some estimates, Balochistan’s female literacy rate is only 20 to 23 per cent_ the lowest in the country. It is because of wedding them early, consequently, dropping them out of schools.
“Since childhood I had the wish to serve as a doctor of cancer in future, ” says Drosham, a 16 years old girl in Makran Division who was married to her cousin (33 years old) two years back, “but, I got pregnant after some months of my marriage. My in-laws, after that, compelled me to cease my education.” Tears kept trickling down with her broken words.
Since her grandmother had died of cancer in her early days, she wanted to abandon rest of the people from coming through the tragical time of death due to cancer. Unfortunately, her desires have been killed with the birth of a marriage she had never wondered of.
Kegad hails from Nasirabad village of District Kech in Northern Balochistan. She was determined to becoming a proud daughter for her family and a lawyer in future. Sadly, her family hinders on her way to glory by putting her in the cage of matrimony.
“Looking at my people I felt I needed to walk on the path of advocacy in order to raise my voice as legally as I could after getting to know the laws of the land in details. However, my all dreams were shattered into pieces with my unwanted and rapid marriage.” Cries Kegad on her bad luck.
Another important factor that leads to early marriages of girls is a feeling of insecurity of their future.
“Sahib, we are poor. The greatest worry of ours related to our daughters is their peaceful marriages”, says Illahi Bakhsh from Awaran, “If we do not wed them early, we are afraid they may go unmarried in rest of their lives.”
Most people wed their daughters sooner making the excuse of poverty to raise them in schools. And when they (the girls) get a little bit sense of recognition, they are married off.
“I was only 11 years old when my family married me to my second cousin”, complains Rukhsar, “I did not know what marriage was by then. After almost one year I got pregnant and taken to hospital. When the doctors looked at me, they scolded my mom for wedding me so early. I was on the verge of death, as per the doctor, but I survived and gave birth to a baby boy.”
Although Rukhsar belonged to a well-to-do family, she was married in an age of playing with toys. Not only Rukhsar, but we have many other teenage girls whose dreams are shattered and voices are silenced.
All in all, female children have been deprived of their basic rights and their dreams are being robbed. They, although, wish to have gotten education other than getting married, that too without their consent. It is ultimately affecting the prosperity of the region.
Hence, provincial government needs to take strong measures to stop the marriages of children. Since we need more people in education than getting in the bonds of matrimony. There must be some exemplary punishments against those who forcefully try to wed their children early. Proper check and balance is required in the rural part of the province in particular. Hopefully, we will come to an end to child marriages and witness development in the region.
The writer is a student of Law at University Law College Quetta and a former teacher at DELTA in Turbat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets at @Alijanmaqsood12