Senate passes bill to fix marriage age as 18 for girls

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday passed a bill to amend the Child Marriage Restraint Bill, 1929, to set the minimum age to be able to marry as 18 years.

Senator Sherry Rehman, who presented the bill, was met with heated remarks by senators belonging to Islamist parties.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) Senator Ghafoor Haidri raised an objection saying that fixing the age as 18 years for nikah is inconsonant with shariah law, therefore, the bill should be sent to Council of Islamic Ideology  (CII) for further discussion.

Similarly, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad seconded Haideri’s suggestion to send the bill to CII, saying that it is against article 2-A of the constitution and against sharia. He suggested reducing the age of puberty from 18 to 15 instead.

Senator Maulana Atta-ur-Rehman also opposed the bill on the grounds that the committee did not invite ulema for consultation.

Senator Maulana Faiz Muhammad said that the Senate is not a proper forum to discuss matters like this.

State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that although the intent of the bill is noble, some issues require consultation as the country came into being in the name of Islam. “The Constitution binds us to make legislation in consonant with Islamic laws,” he said.

However, Senator Raza Rabbani apprised the house that the bill was earlier sent to the CII; however, it remained there for years without any discussion on the matter.

He said that the Sindh Assembly has already passed the same bill and it was not challenged or opposed at any forum and added that the age of puberty of girls in all other Islamic countries is 18 years.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Qadri said that a similar bill was sent to the CII in 2010 by former parliamentarians Marvi Memon and Atiya Anayatullah which was returned by the council with the observation that the age of puberty varies and cannot be fixed according to Fuqaha.

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