Lahore 29 Nov. 18; Parliamentarians, Prominent civil society activists, Journalists and community representatives in the arena of Girls Education and Child Marriage demanded autonomous Child Protection body and harmonised marriage age for boys and girls. They came together at Provincial conference and Parliamentary dialogue organised by Bedari to discuss the pertaining issues related to Child Marriage and formed recommendations to improve existing laws and their implications.
Bedari organised Provincial Conference and Parliamentary dialogue in the context of sixteen days of activism in collaboration with Oxfam, ICDI and GIRLS Inspire to bring the communities together with policy makers. ED Bedari Anbreen Ajaib speaking on the occasion shared that Bedari focuses on social transformation around gender role attitudes, and advocacy with the law makers for policy reforms through different programmes. While welcoming the guests she shared the we are striving to empower girls and combat child marriages in Punjab.
The communities during the day long provincial conference shared their work done, challenges and presented their recommendations. The parliamentarians and civil society created follow up mechanism to achieve recommended outcomes.
Legislators speaking in the parliamentary dialogue shared that bill to raise the marriage age has been presented in the provincial assembly and they assured to support the bill irrespective of party affiliation. They said sixteen years is very immature age to marry off your child. Legislators also shared that this is very sensitive issue and we want to resolve child marriage problem prevailing in the society. Legislators formed an advisory working group of parliamentarians to combat child marriages in the province of Punjab. They extend their commitments to work on recommendations presented to them by the stakeholders during the Provincial conference.
Prominent human rights activist I A Rehman speaking on the occasion state should fulfil its responsibility to provide equal rights to girls. He said, Women in Pakistan do not have opportunities and rights of equal opportunities. He also emphasis on the need to establish autonomous body to safeguard girls’ child rights.
Chairman Alhamra Arts Council Lahore Tauqeer Nasir while speaking on the occasion said that we should provide quality education to our girls child and graduation should be qualification to get marry.
Renowned religious scholar and member Council of Islamic Ideology Raghib Naeemi speaking on the occasion said that Shariat does not support marriage with a child. He also suggested campaigning against child marriage through Ulma and Education department all over the country.
Girls from community shared their case studies and challenges they face.
MPA Sumbal Malik(PMLN), MPA Bushra Butt (PMLN), MPA Khadija Farooqi (PMLQ), MPA Ayesha Iqbal (PTI) participated the dialogue.
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Recommendations presented to Policy Makers, derived during Provincial Conference on addressing violence against girls in Punjab
Recommendations of VAG Session
- Revisit existing laws related to violence against women and girls.
- The laws like Punjab Women Protection Act 2015 need serious consideration for effective implementation
- Syllabus of schools needs to be revised. Inclusion of Human Rights and positive roles challenging gender discrimination need to be highlighted in the syllabus of literature.
Recommendations of Child Marriage Session
- Increase the age marriage for girls from 16 to 18 years.
- Community level awareness on the issue and harmful effects. Media need to be engaged in this regard.
- There is need of capacity building trainings of law enforcing agencies like police officials and lawyers on Child Marriage law and their role.
- To ensure the implementation of the existing Child Marriage Law all relevant stakeholders must be engaged.
Recommendations of Education Session
- Major issue for girls to continue education is transportation as high schools are far.
- The scholarship should be awarded to girls to develop completion and interest among girls for getting education.
- Buses can be provided to schools to provide pick and drop.
- In terms of primary education law implementation must be insured and awareness raising about girls education must be launched on a large scale.
- All villages and sub districts where there is no middle or high schools the government should take steps for establishing high schools for provision education to girls on door steps.