42 cases of forced, early marriages in four months

KARACHI: At least 42 cases against early and forced marriages were reported media in just 4 month of 2014 across Pakistan, which included 17 cases in January, 10 cases in February, eight cases in March and seven cases in April. This was said by Madadgar National Helpline Founder Zia Ahmed Awan during a press briefing on Saturday along with an 11-year-old survivor of early and forced marriage, Sana, who got justice and was handed over to her maternal aunt by a local court.Awan said that the actual figures might be higher than the given figures as several such cases were not reported in media. He said that the federal and provincial governments were bound under international laws to implement child rights including ban on early and forced marriages. About the case of Sana, he said that she was forcibly married to a disabled man after her father took Rs 70,000 and second-hand motorcycle from the man. Sana then took shelter at the house of her maternal grandmother Nasreen which enraged her father who registered a kidnapping case (35/14) in Bilal Colony police station against Nasreen and her family, he said. Sana was then shifted to a shelter home and her grandmother Nasreen was referred to Lawyers of Human Rights & Legal Aid LHRLA for legal aid, who file a petition demanding custody of Sana to her grandmother. The hearing continued for three months and the court gave custody of Sana to her maternal aunt.  Awan said that after the promulgation of Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013, Sindh has taken a lead in lawmaking against early and forced marriages and now it is the responsibility of federal and other provincial governments to start legislation on this issue. He said that after promulgation of Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013, a new committee should be formulated, members to be taken from provincial home department, police and civil society, to address crimes against children while funds should also be provided to support child victims of abuse and violence.

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