The Sindh High Court of Pakistan ruled on February 3 that men can marry underage girls, under Sharia law, after the girls have experienced their first period. The Sharia law is the religious Islamic law that is derived from the teachings of the Quran, and the ruling was made during the haring of Huma Younus, a 14-year-old Catholic girl that was taken away, pressured to convert to Islam and then forced into child marriage.
Younus’ parents brought a copy of her baptismal certificate and testimony from her school to the hearing to confirm her age and prove that the marriage was invalid and illegal, and her family cited the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act that prohibits the marriage of any child under the age of 18. The judges, though, ruled that the marriage between Younus and the man that took her, Abdul Jabbar, was legal under Sharia law because she had already experienced her first period.
Younus’ parents and their lawyer, Tabassum Yousaf, said that they will seek justice from Pakistan’s Supreme Court after the high court’s devastating verdict.
The lawyer also revealed that the girl did not even attend the hearing, making it almost four months since her family has seen her.
Even though the Sindh Child Marriage Act exists in the country, authorities have done almost nothing to enforce the law, and even though a bill to completely ban child marriage was proposed in Pakistan, it’s currently stuck in parliament.
Equality Now’s Global Leader Flavia Mwangovya told Global Citizen that the organization urges the Pakistani government, and specifically the courts, to pay due respect to its international legal commitments and to uphold its own laws by reversing this horrendous decision and ensure that a fair and correct judicial process is followed from this point onwards, including enabling the girl’s parents to see her and make sure that she attends the court hearings.