Forced marriages in Pakistan Young Voices -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Forced marriages in Pakistan Young Voices

Islam, which declared equality between men and women, In matters of marriage a woman was given equal right to choose her life partner However, in our practical lives, we are influenced by a host of other prejudices bequeathed by history, and tradition Male chauvinism and compulsions of conceited ego should not be confused with Islamic values. An enlightened approach is called for. Forced marriage is thus clearly recognized as a violation of fundamental rights guarantees contained in the national constitution. The law in each case also criminalizes aspects of the practice.

Forced marriage occurs within diverse cultures, traditions, nationalities, races and religions. Available reports indicate that the incidence of such cases in the Arab states is diminishing. As is now increasingly well-recognized, forced marriages differ from arranged marriages, a practice common with Arab communities and among Muslim communities in non- Arab countries especially in India and Pakistan. Crucially, the difference turns on consent, in that the woman concerned may consent to an arranged marriage, but does not consent to a forced marriage.

Forced marriage- any marriage conducted without the valid consent of both parties- may involve coercion, mental abuse, emotional blackmail, and intense family or social pressure. In the most extreme cases, it may also involve physical violence, abuse, abduction, detention, and murder of the individual concerned. CEDAW has recognized that the practice of forced marriages – “marriages arranged for payment or preferment. On the basis of custom, religious beliefs or the ethnic origins of particular groups of people”- continues to prevail in certain countries.

It has emphasized the significance of the right of “ A woman has right to choose a spouse and enter freely into marriage is central to her life and her dignity and equality as a human being” The committee has further stated that, “Subject to reasonable restrictions, based for example on a woman youth or consanguinity with her partner, a woman has right to choose when, if, and whom she will marry must be protected and enforced by law.” Reported cases indicate that many of those forced into marriage are very young, including girls under eighteen years old. In recognition of the practice of child marriages, which are forced marriages by definition, since children do not have the capacity to give consent, the CEDAW Committee also noted that -+ The betrothal of girls or undertakings by family members on their behalf.

All cases of forced marriage involve the right to marry and to personal liberty and security, including freedom from arbitrary detention. The more extreme cases may also implicate the right to life, the right to bodily integrity, including freedom from gender- based violence, the prohibitions on slavery or practices similar to slavery; the right to access to justice, the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law; the right to an effective remedy and the right to freedom from gender- based discrimination.
The International Declaration of Human Rights recognizes each of the rights enumerated above. In addition Bangladesh and Pakistan are bound to respect these rights by their treaty obligations under several major international human rights instruments.
They are parties to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women, 1979 (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1990 (CRC), and the Supplementary Convention on Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery 1956.
Source: The Nation
Date:12/18/2006