No freewill: 708 children fell prey to forced marriages in 2013

KARACHI: At least 708 boys and girls fell prey to forced and early marriages in Pakistan in the year 2013, which included 264 such cases in Punjab, 199 in Sindh, 143 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 102 cases in Balochistan, said the founder of Madadgaar Helpline, Zia Ahmed Awan at a roundtable conference titled, ‘Addressing Gender Base Violence: Focusing on early and forced marriages in Pakistan’, at Madadgaar Helpline office on Friday.

Awan said that 684 cases of forced and early marriages were reported in 2012. Around 276 forced marriage cases were reported in 2012, which increased up to 284 in the year 2013. He said these were the cases reported in media but the exact figures would be far more than this. Awan highlighted national and international laws that forbid parents and couples to get married before they attain the age of 18 years. Pakistan is signatory to the international charters that forbid it.

During natural disasters, hundreds of families are forced to leave their homes and in this period, they consider their girls a burden and try to marry them to send them to a safer location. Every religion including Islam has given rights to girls to marry on free will, he said.

Zahida Hashim said that many children who were in love with each other and ran away from their homes but after not getting married due to age barriers, they were sent to SOS.

Senior official of Madadgaar, Samreen Naz, said people involved in forced marriages easily get away due to flaws in our laws. PPI

A link to the article can be found here.