Civil society voice concern over withdrawal of CRM bill

Peshawar: Representatives of various civil society organisations have voiced concern over withdrawal the legislative bill proposed to recommend harsher punishment for entering conjugal contracts with minors and increase the girls’ marriage age from 16 to 18 years

Speaking at a news conference at press club here on Tuesday, provincial Coordinator of the National Group (NACG) and Provincial Allinace to end Early Child and Forced Marriage, Qamar Naseem said that the National Assembly Standing committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony had rejected the proposed Child Marriage Restrain (amendment) Bill, after the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) dubbed it ‘un-Islamic’.

“We the citizens of Pakistan and concerned civil society members strongly, loudly and outright reject him and both his statements against women and girls, and early marriage criteria”, Mr Qamar said.

He informed that the two Islamic Conferences of the Ministers Incharge of Childhood of the Organization of Islamic Countries in Cairo and Khartoum adopted the Declarations and called upon the Islamic Countries to raise minimum marriageable age to 18 years”.

Sikandar Zaman regional head of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan urged the government and civil society to take the necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls and all harmful traditional or customary practices, such as child marriage in the light of the relevant declarations, instruments, and conventions and not makes it a controversial.

Zar Ali of Child Rights Movement (CRM FATA) said that the attitude of the standing committee members who quietly surrendered to the diktat of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) could not be deplored strongly enough. Indeed, they bear more responsibility for protecting obscurantism than even the members of the CII.”

The members of civil society called for constitutional amendment by a Joint Sitting of Parliament, to either abolish the CII altogether, or to remove even its advisory teeth, rendering it just a ceremonial entity.

Meanwhile, they demanded for immediate removal of Maulvi Sherani from his position as CII Chairperson, and an educated, enlightened, progressive, moderate, real Islamic scholar who lives in the 21st Century, and who does not hate women and girls, must be appointed to replace him, such as his predecessor, they said.

They furthermore said the CII’s retrogressive members must immediately be replaced by progressives, including 50 per cent women scholars, judges and lawyers; as well as 5% non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan, who are impacted by the CII’s legislative advice.

The civil society also proposed that all the CII’s meetings must be transparent and open to public and media participation; and all CII documents must be laid before the public for debate, comments and suggestions, before being sent as advice to the Parliament. The ill-intentioned mischief-monger, uneducated, ignorant, misogynist Sherani must go now.

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