Under-age marriage may produce unhealthy generation

child wedding

HYDERABAD, 15 May 2016: Representatives of civil society organizations working in Sindh province to oppose under-age marriage customs realized the fact that this experience may produce unhealthy generation. Discussing at a three-day workshop young activists, both male and female, hailing from different districts depicted the scenario in their areas and pointed out the exact cases, who are not performing well after giving births to more children in their early age, these campaigners realized.

Not only women, but male too are also seen the victim in such customs, and they are unable to resist against what is happening without their own choice of will.

The workshop was organized by Sindh Community Foundation (SCF) in collaboration with UN-Trust Fund to end violence against women at Hyderabad, which attracted representatives of community-based organizations (CBOs) from nine districts, like Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, Mirpurkhas, Matiari, Umerkot, Benazirabad, Khairpur, Sukkur, and Dadu.

Fighting together against this curse of society (under-age marriage customs) they took a step ahead to form Civil Society Alliance. The aim was to take concrete efforts to strengthen coordination and awareness raising with government functionaries, educationists, professionals, health providers, religious leaders, parents and media to avoid this happening.

Javed Hussain, head of SCF gave an overview, quoting the studies and achievements through the campaign in other societies in abroad where activists mobilized other stakeholders to join the move and save the generations.

He said now the world has set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in which the SDG 5 focuses the gender equality. This problem has been focused till 2030. He reminded the government and other stakeholders to come forward to place effective mechanism, promote awareness regarding legislation at the grassroots level and implement the laws.

Shahida Khaskheli, representing the women-led organization of Tando Muhammad Khan district said mostly it is observed that cultural practices causing hindrances at the local level and the activists face hardships to address the issue because in many cases parents are seen compromising due to local pressure. In such cases, even the law itself is unable to intervene. This was the main problem. There is need to work together and government functionaries, mainly police, the health department may play an important role to stop this exercise.

She sharing examples said there are some cases in which education also played a role when girls themselves showed resistance and foiled the attempts to force them to get married against their will or even being under-age.

The workshop covered the topics, including cultural practices, impacts of early marriages on health and lives of girls, human rights, and fundamental citizens’ rights in the light of constitution of Pakistan. They emphasized the need to promote awareness regarding the recently made legislation on Child Marriages Restraint in Sindh province.

The community leaders Shahnaz Sheedi of SAP-Pakistan, Punhal Sario of Sindh Hari Porhyat Council, and Zulfiqar Halepoto, writer, and social activist also conducted sessions to give a sense of understanding to the participants so they may apply this learning in fields in their working areas.

The speakers also pointed out that behavioral change among parents is must so they may take care of their children. Because in any hurriedly taken decision may create further problems in families, which also impacts on lives of girls, who mostly sacrifice in these old customs.

They also discussed that mass campaign is required through various medium of communication to spread awareness among the larger population about this law.

At the concluding ceremony Anwar Rashid of OPP-OCT, writer Aqeela Ismaeel, renowned development expert Tasneem Siddiqui distributed certificates among the participants and praised such efforts to tackle such silent menace of society.


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