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How Sex Ed Is Helping to Fix Pakistan’s Child Marriage Problem

Most child marriages aren't even reported.

by Jennifer Chowdhury
Apr 13 2017, 2:30pm

Early-age marriage is an epidemic felt by girls around the world. In the province of Sindh, Pakistan, nearly 72 percent of girls are married before the age of 18. It has the highest rate of child marriage out of all of Pakistan's four provinces (the stat is 21 percent for Pakistan, overall). In 2013, however, a sliver of hope presented itself in the form of the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, which criminalizes marriage to children under 16.

There are significant challenges to implementing these types of laws, however, since they push back against references from Islamic holy scripts that females are eligible to marry when they hit puberty, as well as deep-set beliefs and customs. And while the government continues to try and enforce laws to alleviate the problem, 80 percent of child marriages—in Sindh alone—aren't even reported.

Just like everywhere else in the world, when the law isn't moving mountains like it should, you take it to the streets. Aahung, a Karachi, Pakistan-based NGO and advocacy group that has been working to improve the quality of sexual and reproductive health and rights services since 1995 (when it was known as Karachi Reproductive Health), partnered with the Department of Education in Sindh to integrate comprehensive sexuality education content into the school curriculum.

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