Early Marriage and Forced Marriage in Pakistan:

Early Marriage and Forced Marriage in Pakistan:

 Early marriage and forced marriages, Child marriage, Child marriages, are human rights violations that violate several international agreements, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Marriage Age, and Marriage Registration; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). According to international law, boys and girls should be allowed to marry at a uniform age, and consent to marriage should be free, full, and informed. Against this background, the CRC recommends that the minimum age of marriage be 18 years, while the CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) urges states to protect the right of free will in choosing a spouse and marriage only with full consent from both parties. Similarly, UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 aims to eradicate all harmful practices by 2030, including child marriage, early marriage, and forced marriage.

Early marriage:

Generally, child marriage and early marriage refer to marriages in which one or both spouses are under the age of 18. However, early marriage can sometimes be referred to as a marriage in which one or both spouses are 18 years of age or older, but without their free and full consent. A young marriage could, for example, be that of a 19-year-old who is not physically or emotionally mature, or unable to make their own decisions. 

Forced marriage:

Forced marriages are characterized by one or both spouses being unable to give their full, free, and informed consent to marriage, regardless of age. A marriage that cannot be ended or left can be referred to as a forced marriage as well. The majority of child marriages are considered forced marriages because children aren’t considered able to give consent legally.

Effects of Early and Forced Marriages:

Children involved in child, early, or forced marriages are at high risk of violence and abuse, as well as being deprived of their fundamental rights to childhood, education, health, and opportunity. United Nations Children’s Fund’s 2016 State of the World’s Children reports states that 18% of Pakistani girls get married before their 18th birthday, 4% before their 15th birthday, and 5% before their 18th birthday, while 5% of Pakistani boys get married before their 18th birthday. 

Pakistan has a high rate of child, early, and forced marriages in rural and low-income areas where education is low. Sindh is the state with the highest prevalence (72% girls and 25% boys). Similarly, 99% of girls living in K-P’s tribal areas are victims. Due to socioeconomic and cultural reasons, a large proportion of young girls marry before they turn 18. According to the UK’s Forced Marriage Unit, at least 439 children forced marriages occurred in Pakistan in 2017, making it the first ‘focused’ country among Bangladesh, Somalia, and India. 

Acts in Pakistan concerning Early and Forced Marriages:

According to Pakistani legislation, boys and girls have different marriage ages. In 1947, Pakistan adopted the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 as the primary law, and it is applicable to the Islamabad Capital Territory, K-P, Balochistan, and the Gilgit-Baltistan region. Contrary to international standards, this law sets the legal marriage age at 16 for girls and 18 for boys. Additionally, Sindh passed exemplary legislation, imposing an 18-year-old age limit on both boy and girl marriages, and penalizing perpetrators, aiders, and abettors of underage marriage. A marriage solemnized underage is also a cognizable, non bailable, and non-compoundable offense. In Punjab, the legal marriage age is 16 years for girls and 18 years for boys, together with a clause that declares underage marriage a criminal offense. Despite five attempts, the federal government has only succeeded in amending The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 once, and it still does not totally address child, early, and forced marriages, nor does it set the marriageable age at 18 years for girls.


Though Pakistan has legislation to address child, early, and forced marriages, its enforcement and interpretation have not been addressed since Pakistani courts often apply Islamic law in such cases, which interprets any girl who has undergone puberty can marry regardless of her age.

Consent of marriage in Pakistan:

Upon reaching her late teens or early twenties, a woman can expect the protections provided by her father to shift to her husband. Pakistani society allows women to exist only by being married. Exclusions, criticism, and intrusions await those who violate this rule. A woman without a husband is automatically regarded as a social pariah, and their morals are compromised. In many parts of the country, a single woman will still find it difficult to rent or lease a home in 2022. Many girls choose to go ahead regardless of such challenges. 

“There is more to consent than saying ‘yes’. Focusing only on the technical definition of consent leaves out so much of the story”.

Women in Pakistan are not allowed to exercise their right to say ‘no’ with consent. This also applies to men in many cases. In most cases, the guy on the stage has just married a woman because she is his cousin, as part of a business deal with his family, or because her brother has married her sister. Couples are told that love will come as their lives are shared over time, etc

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We tried to cover the detailed analysis on child, early and forced marriages with its rules and regulations set by the Government of Pakistan. We at Right Law Associates, provide the service of court marriage and online marriage (for people living abroad) with complete process and documentation. Moreover, we also offer services regarding legal matters such as Family Law, Civil Law, Criminal Law, and Corporate Law, etc. We are the top law firm in Karachi, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi. For legal consultation with our expert lawyers, please send us an email with your query. We will try our best to reach you in the best possible manner.


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