Ending Early Marriages in Balochistan
Ending Early Marriages in Balochistan
Mahrung khair

In Balochistan, early marriage remains a prevalent tradition, posing severe risks to young girls’ health and well-being. Recently, the Balochistan Cabinet approved a law raising the legal marriage age from 16 to 18, aligning with Sindh and surpassing Punjab’s law. This initiative, led by Advisor to CM for Women Development Rubaba Buledi, aims to protect young girls and address issues stemming from early marriages, including health problems, educational disruption, poverty, and abuse.

Fozia Shaheen, head of the Balochistan Status of Women, stresses that stopping early marriages requires more than just laws. There is a need to focus on girls’ education, health, and economic independence. The new legislation enforces stricter penalties and better protections but faces challenges from cultural norms, lack of awareness, and weak enforcement.


The health impacts of early marriage are severe. According to UNICEF, the maternal mortality rate in Balochistan is 785 deaths per 100,000 live births, largely due to early pregnancies. According to the World Bank, Infants born to teenage mothers have a 60% higher risk of dying in their first year. Young mothers in Balochistan have a 50% higher prevalence of anemia, increasing childbirth risks, as per the data of the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey. According to the stats of UNFPA, adolescents are 30% more likely to experience obstructed labor, contributing to higher maternal and infant mortality. As per the data of ICRW, girls married before 18 are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety and face a threefold increase in suicidal tendencies.


Education is also severely impacted. Girls who marry before 18 are four times more likely to drop out of school, limiting future opportunities and perpetuating poverty and poor health (Population Council). Only 20% of young married girls in Balochistan are literate, compared to 60% of unmarried girls, affecting health literacy and access to healthcare (Human Rights Watch).


NGOs and government programs are working to combat early marriages by promoting education, raising awareness of legal rights, and supporting affected individuals. Initiatives include community education, support services for resisting early marriage, and training for law enforcement and judicial officers. Efforts also involve engaging local leaders to change cultural norms.


Advocates like Fozia Shaheen and Sadaf Asim emphasize the need to integrate the fight against early marriages into broader development goals, such as poverty alleviation, education, and women’s rights. They stress that legislation must be supported by grassroots efforts and societal change to empower girls with knowledge and opportunities.


The new child marriage prevention bill marks a significant milestone, but real change requires continued commitment from policymakers, activists, and communities to dismantle entrenched practices of early marriage and ensure a healthier, more empowered future for Balochistan’s girls.



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