A complex issue to be sure. Here we have another example of poverty, cultural tradition and law in a war-torn society in direct conflict with one another.
“They were informed that marriage of underage girls is illegal and they were shocked,” a policeman, who was part of the raid, told The Express Tribune. “They said we’re illiterate and do not know about the law.” The girl’s parents have been arrested.
While I’m not sure how likely it is, considering the law outlawing child brides in Pakistan passed in 1929, it certainly isn’t impossible. Rural community members living in relatively destitute conditions with no ability to read not comprehending the law. It’s possible. Definitely possible. And when cultural tradition continues widespread in these villages, the people see that and it reinforces a norm. Norms = societally acceptable. Societally acceptable = assumption of legality.
This is where it gets very difficult to stand outside and judge the situation. Child brides are something I am passionate about. I believe it’s not something that should happen to a child. However, it’s not as simple as that 99% of the time when all these other issues - poverty, literacy, education, cultural tradition, the isolation of rural communities, etc. - play a part in the continued practice.
Now what’s that 5 year old going to do with her parents arrested and her would be groom arrested as well? I don’t know that we are seeing much of a solution by criminalizing the very people who likely were put in a position of having to marry off their daughter in the first place.
But that said, I don’t have much of the story yet, so I’ll add the disclaimer that my opinion is definitely subject to change on this case.