By: Allah Bakhsh

Child marriage as a form of human rights violation remains one of the many issues of our society.Girls and boys both are affected by this practice but there is very little legal and social pressure against this norm.

Being a form of violence against children, it has a grim picture and negative impacts on the life of any child since it results so severe that it not only obliterates the childhood of a child but stops the education as well. It cuts up the children for the preparation of a more potent and bright future as it leaves no option for the victim than leaving all the joys of childhood and preparation of a good career aside so that to get pledge —for females—  of addressing the domestic chores and keeping the family happy, and —for males— working to earn some money in order to overcome family’s expenditures.

If  in a smallage a child is burdened with responsibilities, no longer he/she will be able to contribute in the social development and prosperity of a community or a country. Because they have already much to ponder upon. Child marriage is an obvious tyranny on children and causes the children to abandon many pleasurable things in the life. 

Reports have shown that the violence is more common in South Asia than any other region in the world. South Asia has the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Almost half (45%) of all women aged 20-24 years were reported to being married off before the age of 18. Almost one in five girls (17%) are married before the age of 15. India has the largest number of brides in the world – one-third of the global total. Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage in Asia (the fourth highest rate in the world). Nepal has also one the highest rates of child marriage in Asia for both boys and girls. No doubt, all it is about negative practices the South Asian countries are in a miserable condition and failed to equip the basic rights of the nations. 

However, Pakistan does not lag behind in this regard rather it is participating enthusiastically inthe violence against children. Child marriage has largely spaced in the country and a myriad number of children are being deprived of their childhood. Child marriage in the country is connected with tradition, culture, and customary practices. 

Poverty is another ingredient that causes child marriage in a large proportion. It, sadly, is estimated that 21% of girls in Pakistan are married before the age of 18—one in three girls is married before reaching the age of 18 whereas Pakistan’s Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA) 1929 sets the legal age for marriage to 16 for women and 18 for men. But it is much seemed that legislation are neglected by both nation and ruling government. 

Child marriage affects both girls and boys, but it affects girls disproportionately, especially in South Asia. The rate of early married girls is far higher than boys. Child marriage violates children’s rights and places them at high risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse. The curse of child marriage is a crackdown for any nation. Teen girls are also more likely to die from complications during childbirth than women in their 20s. Marrying at an early age also reduces a girl’s autonomy. On the other hand, married children may lose touch with their family and friends. They may face fewer educational opportunities, more health risks, lack of freedom to interact with peers and a lack of livelihood opportunities. Life becomes a hell for them rather than a beautiful experience. 

But yet it is widespread in South Asia. Restrictive laws are introduced by the governments but bringing them into practice is akin to a pipe dream. Nevertheless, it has enhanced illiteracy rate, social challenges and skillfulness of the regionals.It is good to draw that considering it a form of violence against children, UNICEF’s strategy is to avert 500,000 child marriages in South Asia by 2021 where the contributions of every government and nation are the requisite through which aim can only be successful and sharing awareness about the negative implications of early marriage among illiterates, cultural and religious extremists can be possible. Stopping child marriage means saving children from destruction and strengthening the ties of education among them in the region. 

Child marriage must be eradicated by the joint help of UNICEF and governments of the South Asian countries. Disappointedly, while the developed world is busy in inquiring the nature of universe, we yet have to address century old practices destroying millions of lives.

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