KARACHI - A Sindh Assembly committee has reached a consensus over enhancing punishment for those facilitating a child marriage and violating the child marriage laws.

Committee’s Thursday meeting, continuing discussion on a government bill and a private one moved by Sharmila Farooqui, proposed to enhance the penalty to five-year imprisonment and Rs0.5 million fine or both, for anyone – parents, nikahkhawan, registrars and others – facilitating an underage marriage in Sindh province.

There was a broad consensus among committee’s members that the minimum age of marriage should not be less than 18.

The two bills, Child Marriages Restraint Bill, 2013, and the private bill, had been referred to the committee, to come up with suggestions during assembly’s next session.

Originally the government had proposed two-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs0.1 million against violators of the law.

Sharmila Farooqui had suggested the child marriages contracted before the enforcement of this law be declared null and void. The committee however rejected her proposal altogether.

Led by Minister for Women and Development Rubina Sadat Qaimkhani, committee members Law Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro, Sharmila Farooqui of PPP, Mahtab Akbar Rashdi of PML-F, Dr Seema Zia of PTI, and Irum Azeem Farooqui and Naila Munir of MQM met at assembly’s Committee Room and discussed the two bills clause to clause.