Lahore High Court Orders Trial for Registrar Over 15-Year-Old's Marriage

Lahore, May 13: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has mandated legal proceedings against a nikkah registrar accused of facilitating the marriage of a minor girl. The directive emerged during a court session on Tuesday, where the distressing details of the case were brought to light.

The controversy surfaced following a petition filed by Azmat Bibi, who sought the recovery of her underage daughter. The case had initially come to attention after a police report was filed in Shahdara, Lahore, concerning the abduction of the girl. During the court proceedings, the girl, whose age was confirmed to be between 15 and 16 years, stated that she had married of her own free will.

Despite her claim, the presiding judge demanded immediate action against the nikkah registrar responsible for the ceremony, citing the violation of legal standards for marriage age. The court stressed the necessity for all parties involved in the marriage—registrar, solemnizer, and witnesses—to have verifiable documents confirming the bride’s age at the time of marriage.

This judicial intervention highlights Pakistan's broader commitment to abolishing underage and forced marriages, a pledge that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. The country aims to eradicate these practices by 2030, reinforcing its dedication to promoting gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

Underage marriage is internationally recognized as detrimental to the development and well-being of young women. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recommends 18 as the minimum marriageable age for both sexes, emphasizing the importance of this standard in protecting the youth from exploitation and ensuring their right to education and health.

The LHC has tasked a judicial magistrate with the expedited handling of this case, signalling a rigorous approach to enforcing laws against child marriage in Pakistan. The decision is seen as a critical step toward safeguarding the rights and futures of young girls across the nation.

This case not only sheds light on the legal challenges in curbing underage marriages but also underscores the vital role of the judiciary in upholding human rights standards within Pakistan.