KARACHI - Speakers at a seminar, organised to celebrate the ‘International girl child day’, on Thursday emphasised on the Sindh government to adopt a law to end child marriage, suggesting to enhance the 18 years from existing age of 16 enshrined in the ‘Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929’. The event was organised by the Adolescent Girls Empowerment (AGE) project in collaboration with the HANDS, Rutgers WPF and Sindh Women Development Department at a local hotel on Thursday. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on December 19, 2011 as the International Day of the Girl Child, declaring October 11 every as girl child to recognise girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. Sindh Women Development Minister Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto while addressing the event as chief guest said that early age marriage was a burning issue of the country and the young girls who forced into such marriages sustain only few social connections they stay at a very restricted mobility. The participants also offered pray and observed silence of one minute for the early recovery of Malala Yousafzai.She said that the girls who forced into child marriages face domestic violence, inequality, undue domestic responsibility and put their right to education and skillful learning in danger. She further said that the role of women in development of the society must be recognised and platform should be established for encouraging young girls to come forward for equality and role of women in development of country. She advised the law department to finalise the law to ‘child marriage’ practice from the province.She underlined the need to attach the computerised national identity cards with the ‘Nikahnama’ during the marriage to know the actual age of bride and groom.She floated a suggestion that the government and civil society organisations should initiate an awareness campaign in girls and boys colleges and universities about the early child marriage.Dr Tanveer Shaikh, chief executive of HANDS in his welcome address, said on the observance of International Girl Child Day would give people the opportunity to have awareness of different types of discrimination and abuse that many girls around the world suffer from. “Girls are the future of the world and we definitely need a day dedicated to their issues,” he said. Bilqees Rehman, GM HANDS in her presentation highlighted early age marriages’ issue, telling that child marriage robs 10 million girls a year of their childhood globally.Sharing the global data, she said that every year an estimated 10 million girls aged under 18 were married worldwide with little or no say in the matter.Regarding early age marriages data of Pakistan, Bilqees Rehman estimated that 30 per cent of all marriages fall into the category of child marriage which is more common in interior Sindh than in other parts of the country. She said that half of Pakistani women are married at the age of about 19 years, with 13pc married by the time they are 15 and 40pc by the age 18.“Child Marriage: restraint Act 1929 which was modified in 1965, discourages child marriage but violation of law continue unabated,” Bilqees Rehman said. “The old law is outdated, which offer punishment of only one thousand rupees fine and one day imprisonment against the child marriage.”Kanwal Qayyum, Programme Manager of Adolescent Girls Employment (AGE) at Rutgers WFP said that her organisation and women development department of Sindh government had signed a MoU through which awareness campaign is initiated in Matiari and Jacobabad.She said that they also drafting a draft law to end child marriage, in which punishment of one year imprisonment and one lac rupees fine has been suggested against the people who found involve in child marriage.Abdul Rahim Moosvi, provincial coordinator of AGE project, Hadya Farooq of Youth Network and others also shared their views.A group of students performed a play to realise the need of society engagement through girls’ rights, gender inequalities and against the child marriages. Through the play, the message was echoed that solution of poverty is education, not early marriage.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 12-Oct-2012 here.