Punjab health minister calls for raising age limit to protect girls from early marriages

early girls marriage Pakistan 2024

LAHORE: In a recent consultative session organised by the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), Punjab Minister for Primary and Secondary Healthcare, Dr Jamal Nasir, underscored the crucial need to raise the upper age limit for girls’ marriage.

The minister was of the view that hormonal changes during adolescence could result in physiological disorders, making it imperative to protect young girls from the potential pitfalls of early marriage.

Speaking as the chief guest at the event, Dr Nasir cautioned against forcing minor girls or those who are not physically or emotionally mature into marriage, as it could lead to a myriad of problems for these young brides.

Citing medical evidence, he highlighted the inherent vulnerability of women and stressed the necessity of safeguarding their fundamental rights.

Initiating them into married life at a tender age, he pointed out, could have severe repercussions on their physical health.

The minister addressed a societal dilemma surrounding infertility, where the burden of costly and painful testing often falls solely on the wife, contributing to both physical and mental health issues. He called for collective responsibility in addressing such challenges.

Nilofar Bakhtiar, Chairperson of NCSW, acknowledged the gravity of the social issue during her address at the session.

She stressed that child marriage not only deprives girls of their fundamental rights to choose, health, and education but also has a profound impact on society.

The NCSW has consistently engaged its mandate to review related legislation, recognising the need for amendments and effective implementation approaches. Bakhtiar also advocated for support mechanisms for those already married at a young age.

The Commission promotes access to education, healthcare, psychosocial support, and the development of rehabilitation and reintegration programmes to help child brides rebuild their lives and pursue their aspirations.

Expressing urgency, Bakhtiar urged for a collective effort to eradicate child marriage across Pakistan.

The NCSW, in collaboration with esteemed development partners, including UNFPA, UNICEF, and UN Women, convened a critical consultation with provincial stakeholders to build a national consensus on this pressing issue.

The goal is to break the chains that deny children their rights and create a future where every child can flourish.

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