The recent baby marriages of two minor girls, Raveena and Reena, from the Hindu community in Sindh have introduced the attention of the USA to two systemic human rights violations – infant marriages and the oppression of religious minorities. The girls’ family claims that the 2 sisters are elderly, sixteen and 14, even though that is disputed. Due to the fees of forcible conversion, their tale has prompted a country-wide outcry to return the ladies to their dad and mom and take broader measures to deal with forced conversion and marriage of juvenile women.
Raveena and Reena’s instances illustrate the urgent want for comprehensive reform to Pakistan’s legal framework regarding infant marriage and adolescent rights. The response from legislators but continues to be narrowly centered on piecemeal adjustments instead of seeing the broader context of infant marriage in Pakistan, which, according to Unicef, ranks 6th inside the world in phrases of the very best absolute numbers of child marriage.
On March 27, a member of the National Assembly belonging to the ruling political celebration moved an invoice to amend the federal baby marriage legislation, the 1929 Child Marriage Restraint Act. While the bill proposes a nice step to raise the age of marriage to 18 for ladies, it specializes in stronger punishments for mother and father or grownup adult males concerned in child marriage without any dialogue of the rights and remedies of women themselves.
The flurry of proposed measures and laws does not fully cope with the range of gaps and loopholes in current toddler marriage legal guidelines. A file through the Center for Reproductive Rights, ‘Ending Impunity for Child Marriage in Pakistan,’ analyzing the gaps inside the legal framework on infant marriage in Pakistan highlights the subsequent most important weaknesses:
(1) silence in toddler marriage regulation regarding whether infant marriages are void or voidable; (2) a lack of readability regarding the connection among infant marriage rules and inconsistent personal legal guidelines concerning the minimum age of marriage; and (3) absence of criminal safeguards for the safety and welfare for women.
The weaknesses inside the cutting-edge criminal framework are obvious. At the same time, we see that the prevailing legal guidelines do no longer cope with the case of Raveena and Reena in a way that prioritizes their rights and pursuits. Moreover, their scenario is made extra complex by the reality that both women have publicly stated that they’ve selected to marry with their very own loose will, and feature filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court searching for protection from harassment by using authorities officials and their family.