Submitted by opposition member, bill is expected to be defeated by government parliamentarians when it comes up for vote
An opposition lawmaker on Wednesday submitted a private bill in the Sindh Assembly seeking to penalize any parents who do not ensure their children are married after they turn 18 years old.
The Sindh Compulsory Marriage Act, 2021 was submitted by opposition member Syed Abdul Rasheed, who belongs to the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal. It seeks to make it mandatory for every person to get married as soon as they turn 18 years old, and has suggested a fine of Rs. 500 on parents with children who are not married after they reach the age of majority.
According to the draft of the proposed law, parents must submit an affidavit in the office of the deputy commissioner explaining why they are unable to marry off 18-year-old dependents if they wish to avoid the fine.
In a video statement, Rasheed said the bill was in accordance with Islamic teachings, which call for individuals to get married after attaining adulthood. He said the bill should be paired with legislation to ensure austerity in marriage functions, adding that its implementation would help “support” youth and curb the spread of “immorality.”
The bill has been roundly criticized on social media, with Pakistanis questioning how any government could enforce a marriage age for its citizens. While the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government has yet to issue any statement on the legislation, Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari—the sister of PPP Chairman Bilawal—said on social media that it would be “bulldozed” by the party once it comes up for vote.