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National marriage registration to enforce child marriage laws in Pakistan

In a recent announcement, Mian Iftikhar, Pakistani Minister of Information has said that all marriages in KP Province must register with the National Database Registration Authority. Activitists have been calling for this for years, but what does this mean for efforts to end child marriage in Pakistan?

Mian Iftikhar, Pakistani Minister of Information, has just announced that all marriages in the KP province must be registered with National Database Registration Authority (Nadra).

Previously, marriage officiants were responsible for registering all marriages manually in coordination with local government offices. By not linking marriage information to a centralised bank of age information, fake birth certificates were used to make child brides appear to be of the legal age of marriage.

The legal minimum age of marriage in Pakistan is 18 for boys and 16 for girls, but as national ID cards are not issued until children reach the age of 18, there is currently no national legal document that can prove a girl’s age at the time of marriage.

By moving marriage registration away from local offices to Nadra, it should be possible to cross-check marriage records with birth certificates.

Although the announcement by the Minister of Information was unexpected, it has been called for previously by activists, and is seen as a welcome step towards enforcing laws prohibiting child marriage in Pakistan.