Child marriages, that is marrying off girls below the ages of 18 years, is common in Pakistan, especially in rural areas. Many of the child marriages are forced and the young couple are unable to develop a bonding, and the bride finds it difficult to adjust in the matrimonial bonds. Young motherhood forces her into difficult health conditions, and the children born out of such marriages are weak and require special health care. In many of the cases, the parents force the girls into marriages for reasons of property, dowry (especially in Pushtoon tribal areas), family honor, and even for money. In Pakistan, the Government passed a Child Marriage Restraint (CMR) bill that called for arrest and punishment of marriage registrar solemnizing child marriages. The Council of Islamic Ideology has denounced the CMR Bill. The Supreme Court has presently given a Stay on the Bill implementation. The citizen groups and NGOs are campaigning for implementation of the CRM Bill.
Are such cases of child marriage considered child sexual exploitation or should they be left as child sexual abuse? How can the girl child be recovered and reintegrated in this case? The main hindering factor is that the beneficiaries of the sexual exploitation are the parents and husband of the girl, or the family of the husband, who are also the guardian of the girl. The girl, if she runs away becomes a juvenile delinquent, and if she runs away with another male is liable to be prosecuted for adultery.
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