The Federal Shariat Court hears forced child marriage case concerning a five-year-old girl and harshly criticises the custom
Pakistan & Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
On Tuesday, the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) heard the case of an apparent forced marriage of a five-year-old girl in Balochistan and directed the provincial government to submit a complete report on the matter (Junaidi, 2022).
A full bench of the FSC compromising Chief Justice Dr Syed Muhammad Answer and Justice Khadim Hussain M. Sheik took up the matter and directed the law officer, appearing on behalf of Balochistan’s government, to submit a report concerning legislation to stop forced marriages and the steps taken by the provincial government in this regard (Junaidi, 2022). However, later, on the respondent’s request, the matter was adjourned (Junaidi, 2022).
The applicant claimed that his daughter was forcefully married by order of a jjirga to settle a murder dispute (Junaidi, 2022). The case was registered under Section 1-6 of the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 (CMRA) which suggests punishment of up to six months to individuals who contracted the marriage of a child and under Section 34 that deals with acts committed by several persons for a common intention (Junaidi, 2022).
The FSC expressed in a statement that the chief justice took the notice as the act was un-Islamic as well as against Pakistan’s Constitution (Junaidi, 2022). Particularly, he criticised the ritual present throughout Pakistan where girls are given in marriage or servitude to an aggrieved family as compensation to end disputes such as murder describing it as cruel, un-Islamic and heartless (Junaidi, 2022). Further, he stated that this custom poses a lifelong restriction to the personal liberty of a woman and is therefore against all norms of justice (Junaidi, 2022). Finally, he emphasised that based on the above this custom is contrary to the Islamic injunctions and to Article 9 of the Constitution (Junaidi, 2022).
Sources and further reading:
Junaidi, I. (2022, November 2). FSC hears forced child marriage case, seeks details from province. DAWN.COM. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from https://www.dawn.com/news/1718382/fsc-hears-forced-child-marriage-case-seeks-details-from-province.
Child Marriage Restraint Act (Act XIX of 1929) (adopted 1 October 1929, entered into force 1 April 1930) (CMRA).
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (adopted 10 April 1973, amended 2015) (Constitution of Pakistan).