A proposed bill in Pakistan banning child marriages has fallen at the first hurdle. The bill was blocked by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), which declared it un-Islamic.
The bill proposed by ruling PML-N party MP Marvi Memon was withdrawn Thursday, 14 January, after the influential council, which advises the legislature on whether bills comply with Sharia law, declared it "un-Islamic" and "blasphemous", Express Tribune reported.
The bill proposed harsher punishments for those entering marriage with minors, including prison terms of up to two years, and raising the minimum age of marriage to 18. Under Pakistan's constitution, the council's advice is not legally binding, but should be taken into consideration when considering new bills.
In May, 2014, the CII ruled that Pakistan's current laws stipulating 16 as the minimum age for marriage were un-Islamic, and girls as young as nine could be married "if signs of puberty are visible".
Pakistan is one of a number of states to have pledged to end child marriage by 2030, under the UN's Sustainable Development goals. The charity Girls not Brides estimates that about 20% of girls in Pakistan are married before the age of 18.