Marriage under the age of 18 declared unlawful by the Islamabad High Court
Pakistan and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defense
Today, on March 1, 2022, the Islamabad High Court made a momentous declaration on the minimum legal age for marriage, addressing the rise in child marriage across the country (Pakistan Today, 2022). According to the announcement by the court, any marriage under the age of 18 is illegal as of today, and girls under this age cannot enter into a marriage (Yousafzai, 2022). It was also proclaimed by Justice Babar Sattar that parents or guardians cannot compel girls under the age of 18 into a marriage (Yousafzai, 2022). Additionally, Justice Babar Sattar also touched upon the ambiguities in the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 and stressed that the minimum legal marriage age should explicitly be noted as 18 years in the document (Yousafzai, 2022; Dunya News; 2022).
This declaration was made during the hearing of the case of a 16-year-old girl, Sawera Falak Sher, who was reportedly kidnapped and forced into marriage in May, 2021, according to her mother, Mumtaz Bibi (Dunya News, 2022). Despite the statement by Sawera that she voluntarily became married, the court required the police to bring her back to her mother living in a shelter house, called “Dar-ul-Aman” (Yousafzai, 2022).
Sources and further reading:
Dunya News. (2022, March 1). IHC rules marriage under the age of 18 as illegal. Dunya News. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/643525-IHC-rules-marriage-under-the-age-of-18-as-illegal
Pakistan Today. (2022, March 1). IHC declares marriages under 18 illegal. Pakistan Today. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2022/03/01/ihc-declares-marriages-under-18-illegal/
Yousafzai, A. (2022, March 1). Islamabad High court declares 16-year-old girls' marriage illegal. Geo News. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://www.geo.tv/latest/402317-islamabad-high-court-declares-16-year-old-girls-marriage-illegal