CPWB Proposes Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2024-25 to Punjab Government: Raising Minimum Age for Girls to 18

Lahore: The Child Protection Welfare Bureau (CPWB) has submitted a proposal for the Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2024-25 to the Punjab government, aiming to increase the minimum marriage age for girls from 16 to 18 years. The move is a significant step in the ongoing fight against child marriage in Pakistan, particularly in Punjab, where the practice has negatively impacted the lives of countless young girls.

Child marriage is a deeply entrenched issue in many parts of Pakistan, particularly in rural areas. This practice has had profound adverse effects on girls' lives, including compromised health, limited educational opportunities, and hindered economic potential. The CPWB's proposal seeks to address these issues head-on by aligning Pakistan's marriage laws with international standards and ensuring that girls have a fair chance at education and self-development before considering marriage.

Raising the marriage age to 18 is expected to provide several key benefits to girls and their communities. First, it aims to protect their health by reducing the likelihood of early pregnancies, which carry significant health risks for both mother and child. Secondly, by postponing marriage, girls will have more opportunities to pursue education and career development, thereby increasing their economic independence and contributing to the overall socio-economic progress of their communities. Additionally, this move seeks to empower young women by allowing them more time to make informed decisions about their lives and futures.

The CPWB's initiative has also drawn support from various stakeholders, including women's rights organizations, child welfare advocates, and educational institutions. These groups recognize that combating child marriage is essential for improving girls' well-being and enhancing their societal participation. The proposed bill's alignment with global norms further reinforces its importance, providing a foundation for Pakistan's continued efforts to protect and promote the rights of its youth.

To support this legislative initiative, the CPWB has emphasized the need for educational campaigns and community engagement to raise awareness about the dangers of child marriage and its lasting impact on girls. These efforts aim to shift societal norms and attitudes, highlighting the importance of protecting minors from premature marriages and enabling them to pursue their goals.

In addition to awareness campaigns, the CPWB's proposal calls for stricter enforcement of existing laws to deter individuals and families from facilitating child marriages. This includes penalties for those who violate the minimum age requirement, as well as measures to ensure that all marriages are legally registered and comply with the new regulations.

The Punjab government is currently reviewing the Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2024-25. If passed, the bill could bring about meaningful change, helping to safeguard the rights and futures of countless girls throughout the province. This initiative represents a significant milestone in the fight against child marriage, with the potential to serve as a blueprint for similar efforts across the country.

By raising the marriage age and promoting child welfare initiatives, Pakistan can continue to make strides towards empowering its youth, particularly young girls, and ensuring that they have the opportunities they need to thrive and succeed in all aspects of life.