In Pakistan, child marriage is more common in rural areas, where longstanding traditions are more closely followed than in more urbanised areas[i]. It is strongly associated with tradition, culture and customary practices, sometimes involving the transfer of money, settlement of debts or exchange of daughters (known as Vani / Swara or Watta Satta) sanctioned by a Jirga or Panchayat (council of elders from the community who form the local judiciary)[ii].
[i] DHS 2006-2007, as cited by UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2011
[ii] UNFPA, Rahnuma, Study Report: Child Marriage in Pakistan, page 16. Khawar Mumtaz, Sohail Warraich, Shariq Imam et al. Committee for Standardisation of Female Age of Marriage, Age of Marriage, a Position Paper, page 20
*Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2013)
South Asian governments perpetuate the legal and practical barriers that allow for girls to be married off against their will without any viable legal remedy or way out through their inaction and complicity, blogs Center for Reproductive Rights.