Child marriage in Pakistan
The practice of child marriage is widespread and occurs in all regions in Pakistan, with the highest prevalence in South Punjab and Interior Sindh. According to UNICEF’s State of World’s Children 2016, 3% of children are married by the age 15 and 21% by the age of 18 (majority within the bracket of 11-18 years of age). Nationally, 13.9% of females 20-24 reported being married by age 15 and 50.1% reported being married by age 18.
The MTBA program in Pakistan emphasizes on creating awareness and promoting a change of the harmful practice of child marriage, whilst contributing to a more egalitarian and safe environment for adolescent girls. The program builds the capacity of youth to enable them to claim their rights and to protect themselves from child marriage.
Child marriage prevention and life skills education (LSE) are provided to students in school (age 11-12 (Grade V) by training teachers, school management and students peer educator groups. Unmarried and married girls are particularly encouraged to be part of peer educator groups. LSE is also provided to out of school adolescents and youth (age 11 – 18) through Community Trainers.
In the intervention areas, the MTBA facilitates the formation of new youth groups or the strengthening of existing ones; one for female youth and the other for male youth. They address SRHR and LSE, access to general education, access to economic opportunities and access to child protection structures. Youth groups will thus be actively involved in school enrolment campaigns, economic empowerment interventions and in the identification and protection of girls at risk.
In Pakistan, Oxfam Novib and its partners, Bedari and Indus Resource Center (IRC), implement the MTBA program in four districts – Larkana and Shikarpur in Interior Sindh and Muzaffargarh and Lodhran in South Punjab.