The Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013 has determined the lawful marriageable age at 18 years and treats the violation as a severe criminal offence but the law remains silent about the validity of the nikah of the underage brides and grooms.
Such a marriage can only be dissolved through proper divorce and khula proceedings as under normal circumstances and proceedings.
The Sindh Marriage Restraint Act 2013 is a step forward of the Child Marriage Act of 1929 as the recent law has set the minimum age of marriage for both boys and girls at 18 years. There is contradiction about the laws that where on one hand a sexual intercourse with a child below the age of 18 is considered rape while, on the other, the marriage remains legal even when this crime is addressed. This issue must be addressed by the legislature at the earliest to remove this contradiction because in such a scenario the marriage is still considered lawful where divorce and khula have to be obtained under normal proceedings..
The law not only makes this offence a non-bailable one but also non-compoundable which means that the issue cannot be compromised and solved within concerned parties. Furthermore in the case of child marriages, section 365 (b) for kidnapping a girl is also applied. Issues like these used to be brought to family courts but this law is dealt with by the judicial magistrate of every locality.The law allows the court to review its own proceedings and the perpetrators can be left with no means to escape. As for as the determination of age is concerned it can be done with the help of registration number at the time of birth, NADRA B-Form and CNIC of the spouses.
Child marriages are criticized by the civil society due to the reasons that it does not only deteriorates the health of the girls and their children but also have social, economic and severe psychological problems for the underage girls, many of whom also are subjected to violence and abuse.