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Forced child marriages


Society considers a kid to be an adult after she marries, and she is supposed to be grown and responsible. Despite the fact that they are in the most vulnerable stage of their lives, when they require the most assistance, such youngsters are expected to care for someone else.
While both boys and girls are married off early, the number of girls who are victims of this practice is far greater than the number of boys. This is largely due to our society’s gender inequality. When a girl is born in Pakistan, she is treated like a guest in her own family, with the purpose of preparing her for her own home, i.e., her future husband’s home. She is frequently seen as a burden on her parents, and she marries young to “preserve family honor.”
Early marriage has an impact on a child’s psychological well-being as well as his or her academic, personal, and social development. When children are deprived of enjoyable childhood experiences, given an insufficient education that jeopardises future professional possibilities, overburdened with duties, and subjected to domestic violence, they are more likely to develop depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Similarly, a young male child who is married bears financial pressures to support his family, which may interfere with his education and training.
Given the age gap between the child and her spouse, a girl’s reproductive health is likewise in great jeopardy. Sexual activity takes a toll on these young brides, who are physically and mentally unprepared for it. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the greatest cause of death in 15- to 19-year-olds around the world, according to the WHO. These problems are more common in this age range than in those aged 20 to 24. Studies have also indicated that adolescent mothers’ pregnancies have a higher risk of infant death, premature deliveries, and low birth weights than adult mothers’ pregnancies.
Sindh is the only province that outlaws marriage before the age of 18, while having the greatest frequency of child marriages among the provinces. The rest forbids the marriage of girls under the age of sixteen and boys under the age of eighteen. These laws are frequently faced with opposition, have been labelled non-Islamic, and have been overturned by various courts. However, in recent years, some landmark rulings have been achieved in the fight against child marriage. These rulings will serve as precedents in future instances.
Early adolescence (10-14 years), middle adolescence (15-17 years), and late adolescence (18-19 years) are the three stages of adolescence (18 to 21 years). Although a child’s physical growth is complete by late adolescence, the brain’s cognitive development, abstract thinking, and advanced reasoning continue to develop until the frontal lobes mature at the age of 24-25 years. The frontal lobes are responsible for complicated decision-making and impulse control. In the early and middle adolescent years, impulsiveness, risk-taking behaviour, and a lack of regard for future repercussions are all typical.
Given that cognitive development lasts long into the mid-twenties, a youngster under the age of 18 is clearly not mature enough to be married off according to the above requirements. It is past time to discourage child weddings and alter the legislation in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and the Islamabad Capital Territory to create new minimum age limitations for girls.
We need to rethink our thinking about what should happen to young women in our culture. Instead of forcing children into marriages, we should send them to school so that they can grow up to be healthy, successful, and self-sufficient adults who will assist the generations that follow them succeed.