Back to Page Authors: Narmeen Ali, Muhammad Arshad

Keywords: child marriages, victimized girls, psychosocial impacts, child rights

Abstract: Child Marriages are a violation of children’s rights due to their minor status. Although available statistics show the prevalence of child marriage all over the world, children, especially girls, in developing countries are more vulnerable to become victims of child marriage. This paper is based on a research study conducted in the southern part of Punjab province in Pakistan, where the practice of child marriage is widespread. Drawing on data collected through various methods, including in-depth interviews with women who were victims of early marriage and focused group discussions with stakeholders, this paper discusses the factors that lead to early marriages and its socio-psychological impact on the lives of women. Traditions, religious convictions, gender-based discrimination against women, poverty, and sense of insecurity are among the major determinants of early marriages. However, as an early marriage of children is considered a private family matter in Pakistan, no reliable data is available; therefore, it is difficult to assess the magnitude of the practice. This study, while providing a socio-economic profile of the victimized girls, explains the determinants of marriage in childhood, and its social-emotional-physical-economic impact on the lives of victims. The study also presents the views and experiences of different service providers and social activists about the problem and offers some suggestions to address the issue of child marriages.