To anyone with functioning sensibility, the current discourse peddled by Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology is more than just plain ridiculous – it is inhumane. It is even more terrifying considering the region where this entire discussion is taking place: South Asia, where the most child marriages take place throughout the world. According to the D.C based International Center for Research on Women, one third of women around the world are married before they turn 18. This ruthless tradition is most prevalent in the southern part of Asia where girls as young as 8 and 9 years old are married to men twice and even thrice their age. It is reportedly a leading cause of death amongst young girls in the sixteen to nineteen age bracket.

The fact that our religious affairs minister attempted to placate hardliners on child marriage should surprise no one. Ours is a country where subjects concerning human rights are settled based on opportunity: If it wins you public votes, go ahead – even if it is at the expense of a minor’s life. Our ministers, parliamentarians and other politicians and members of civil society should not be afraid to call a spade a spade and a barbaric ruling just that. Still, this principle seems painfully lost on those claiming to care for Pakistanis.

The only person to have bravely confronted this inane development is Marvi Memon. The proposal is essential and should be approved: That anyone attempting child marriage ought to be fined $1,000 with two years in jail, not a paltry $10 and a month behind bars. It is a damning shame that this even requires reiteration. This is an issue that one cannot remain neutral on as neutrality in this context implies complicity with violence against underaged girls. Our legislators must take swift and unapologetic initiative to hold the council to task.