ISLAMABAD: A bill was tabled in the National Assembly on Tuesday against child marriage, but it was resented by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).
The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014 evoked a mild protest from the JUI-F, which said it went against the injunctions of Islam. Members of the Lower House of parliament tabled various important bills on Tuesday, which a private members’ day. They were related to the welfare of children, increase in the number of seats reserved for non-Muslims in the National Assembly and facilitation of the disabled persons in the government departments and public places.
However, the most distinguishing piece of legislation was brought in by PML-N MNA Marvi Memon to amend the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929. She tabled the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014, calling for the prevention of child marriages in the country which, according the MNA, are prevalent due to poverty, illiteracy, anti-human rights social and cultural practices. “An early marriage leads to early conception, which ultimately affects the health of the teenage girl,” the bill stated, while pointing out that enormous pressure is put on child brides to bear children. It states that the practice of child marriage is common in all parts of the country, particularly the poor urban and rural areas, but the act of solemnising a child marriage is not cognisable, and police cannot take action against the offenders. Though the government did not oppose the proposed legislation, it however agreed to consider the legislation in view of the recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CCI) when JUI-F’s MNA and CII Chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani objected to it.
The maulana said that the bill is in contravention of the teachings of Islam. Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousaf assured the House that the house committee would discuss the bill in the light of recommendations of the CII and teachings of Islam. Sherani noted that this bill should not have been introduced in view of the clear-cut recommendations of the CII on child marriages. However, he agreed that the committee should look into it in view of these recommendations.
JUI-F’s Maulana Ameer Zaman also opposed the bill, saying that the issue is a provincial subject and should not be taken up in the National Assembly. MQM’s Iqbal Qadri also said the bill pertains to a subject now in the purview of provinces. However, he announced his support for it. Marvi Memon also laid The Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2014, which states that corporal or physical and psychological punishment is common and rampant in our schools and also found in “care institutions”. It suggested that within the institutional framework of the classroom, corporal punishment must be banned and replaced with constructive and communicative approach. MNA Asiya Nasir introduced The Constitutional Amendment Bill 2014 to raise the number of seats for Non-Muslims in the National Assembly from ten to sixteen.
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