Multi-stakeholders Consultation on the Draft of Child Marriages Bill in Peshawar

CHILDMIRRIAGE

PESHAWAR: Child marriages that snatch innocence of millions of girls worldwide, is one of the biggest obstacles to development. There is increasing recognition that child marriage is a serious problem that violates human rights and hinders key development outcomes. The latest international estimates indicate that, worldwide, more than 60 million women aged 20-24 were married before they turned 18.

Blue Veins with the support of Canada Fund for Local initiatives (CFLI) organized 4  Multi-stakeholders consultation in Peshawar to review the latest available provincial drafts of Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2016 and develop a consensus based on the best amended pro-girls and women marriage restraint act draft to be presented in the KP Assembly. The consultations aimed to reduce ideological conflict amongst all multi-stakeholders on the draft of the bill and improve the existing draft before it is presented in the KP Assembly. The recommendations resulting from the consultations is soon to be handed over to Directorate of Human Rights, Provincial Commission on Status of Women (PCSW), National Commission on Status of Women, (NCSW), Child Protection and Welfare Commission (CPWC) and legislatures of the Khyber Pakhtukhwa Assembly.

Talking on this occasion Qamar Naseem, program coordinator of Blue Veins  and focal point of the Provincial Alliance to End Early Forced and Child Marriages KP/FATA Said that “It has been a manifested experience that when bills are presented in the provincial assembly for endorsement without any prior consultations they often face with criticism and backlash. This happens as a result of ideological and political conflicts as well as, lack of consensus and confidence building among different alliances, parties, public and private organizations and activists. However, this initiative would be enabling to reiterate prior slip-ups committed bygone. In addition to this, proposed initiate would contribute to raise and reflect bigger collective voice around the issue. ” He also said that the existing draft of the bill is very poorly drafted and full of flaws which indicates the poor will of the Govt to deal with this issue.”

Participants of the consultations included NGOs, CBOS, Political Party activists, teacher, students and Lawyers, UN agencies, member of the district bar association and High court bar association.  The civil society alliances including Provincial alliance to End Early Child and Forces Marriages (KP/FATA), National Action Coordination Groups (KP/FATA), Child Rights Movement (KP/FATA), Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (PCSN), FATA Commission for Human Rights, Tribal NGOs Consortium (TNC), Rawadadi Threek, Fight Against Dowry Network (KP chapter), MEN UNiTE and Pakistani Men Against Rape (KP Chapter).

Dr.Shama Ishaq Secretary Women National party, member of the provincial Assembly Balochistan and Focal person from Civil Society Joint Working on Civil Political Rights who was on exposure visit to Khyber Pakhtukhwa also participated in the event. Dr. Shama Ishaq said   “fighting child marriages is a common responsibility of Government and civil society we must together work to empower more young people to create, join and lead community dialogues and support effective programs addressing child marriage and supporting married girls which can be taken to scale to ensure that all girls have access to education and other opportunities”

Taimur Kamal coordinator of ‘Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network’ while expressing his views said that this is an unfortunate fact that most of the discrimination that is faced by girls (child), is always carried out in the name of Islam. Therefore, it should be discussed in the context of Islam. Time has proved that in male dominated societies; for instance, educating women without educating men makes women more vulnerable. Therefore, there is a dire need for men working with men to help women in coming out of vulnerability. Local Imams can play a very vital role in changing the mindset of people at grassroots level.

Zar Ali Khan coordinator of Child Rights Movement said that in order to change the plight of child and adolescent girls, an immediate remedy would be behavioral/attitudinal change of community which can be done by involving Imams and men and boys”.

Mohmmad Shakeel of Child Rights Movment KP said,  “Child Marriage is significant problem, supporting young people to be agents of change can be an effective and empowering process in and of itself. We must work with young people so they can advocate for change as well as helping to inform the design of programmes that directly benefit their peers”.

Vigilant groups from Charssada and Mardan were also part of this consultation it is anticipated that this platform will  serve to represent voices from the grass root levels as the momentum is around their rights and its social implications.  The crux of participatory representation would be to draft a policy inclusive of voices of praise of this forced customary practice.

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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