For many years, because of cultural, traditional and customary reasons, girls in Pakistan, from as young as nine years old are forced into arranged marriages and more often than not, fall victim to all sorts of abuse from their husbands.
The girls are sometimes married off to men nearly four times their age and not given the opportunity to refuse by their own family members. These child marriages are the most prevalent in Pakistan, with nearly 1.9 million girls having been forced into marriage, as reported in The News.
According to UNICEF, seven percent of girls are married before the age of 15 and 40 percent girls are married before the age of 18. These girls are robbed of their childhood and futures and are forced to live a life surrounding satisfying their husbands needs.
Some of the reasons given for these child marriages, according to, UNFPA Pakistan, are families living in impoverished villages looking to send their girls to be taken care of, to "protect the family honour" and also the prevailing gender inequality issue, which affects many women across the world.
And it happens all around the globe.
The internet is littered with the voices of young women telling their stories after having been forced into arranged marriages. Last year News AU published an article about a young Pakistani bride who was raped repeatedly by her husband who she got engaged to at only 8 years old. She was living with her family in the U.S.
Now in Pakistan, finally after years of activism and rallying against child brides and underage marriages, the Senate has passed a new bill that the legal age for marriage for both girls and boys will be 18.
According to SAAMA, "Senator Sherry Rehman presented an amendment to the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 that states that the minimum marriageable age in Pakistan is 16 during a meeting of the Senate Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday."
She then ask for the marriageable age to be changed to 18 instead of 16 and was given a thumbs up by the Pakistan government.
While cultural and old system of beliefs may still pose a problem, this step is one that shows a move towards gender equality, basic civil rights and women empowerment.
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