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[Field News] Pakistan High Court rules to prevent forced conversion and marriage

Pakistan's High Court recently ordered local governments to "remove gender-based age distinctions in the 'Child Marriage Act'" in a move to prevent forced conversion and marriage of girls.


According to the American Christian Post (CP), on April 15, Judge Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court passed the Punjab Province 1929 Children's Act, which set the legal age of marriage for boys and girls at 18 and 16 years or older, respectively. Marriage laws were declared ‘discriminatory’.


In a five-page ruling, Judge Karim said, “Because the marriage ages for men and women are different, the law is unconstitutional, so it is dismissed as having no legal authority and being ineffective.” He instructed the Punjab government to “publish the amendments to the 1929 Act within 15 days (based on this judgment) and upload the amendments to a website so that information can be obtained.”


He said, “The definition of ‘child’ in the 1929 law was based on age, but it was not based on an understandable standard. “The definition is indeed a special provision for the protection of women, but in the process it tends to provide greater protection to men by keeping their age of marriage higher than that of women.”

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Azka Wahid called for amendments to the Child Marriage Act to avoid harmful gender discrimination in line with the equal rights of men and women guaranteed by Pakistan's Constitution.


According to CP, although the aforementioned law was replaced by the Punjab Child Marriage Restriction (Amendment) Act, 2015, which criminalized child marriage, girls and women in Pakistan are still often forced to marry against their will, and some In some cases, they are forced to get married even before they reach legal age. This is especially true for ethnic minorities such as Christians and Hindus.


Human rights activists have pointed out that “Christian and Hindu women and girls are more vulnerable because they belong to marginalized minority groups and are targets of sexual exploitation under the guise of forced marriage and conversion.”


Regarding this, Judge Karim ruled, “Because Pakistan’s marriage law primarily considers social, economic, and educational factors rather than religious factors, there is a need to take effective measures against child marriage.” He also mentioned Article 25 of the Constitution and said, “All citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal legal protection.”

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“This ruling is the first step in recognizing the seriousness of the problem of child marriage, especially among minority Christian and Hindu communities,” Bishop Azad Marshall of the Church of Pakistan told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “The Punjab government must amend the law banning child marriage through parliament to enforce the ruling,” he emphasized.

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Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. (Psalms 44:5-6)

Lord, in Pakistan, there is a law that requires children to get married at the age of 18, and parents must pay a fine if their adult children do not get married.


Although this law was amended to criminalize child marriage, young girls and women in Pakistan are still often forced into marriage.


God who is fair and just, we lift up the women in Pakistan who are still subjected to domestic violence and abuse and are forced to marry.


It is only our Lord who can wipe away the tears of those who are further discriminated against and not even protected by the country because they are Christians and ethnic minorities.


Only the Lord is the King of the Pakistani nation. Please guide those who have been exposed to forced marriage and conversion of women under the wings of the Lord.


Please help them to find peace by the name of Jesus, not under the laws and standards of the world, and to rely only on the one true Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.


Also, please help the church in Pakistan pray more for its people and those in power in this situation, and become a church that does not abandon its faith despite any persecution and triumphs in the name of Jesus.

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