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Men can marry underage girls once they have had their first period – Pakistan court rules

A High Court in Pakistan has ruled that underage girls can marry as long as they have had their first menstrual cycle, in accordance with Shari’a law.

The Sindh High Court in Karachi passed down the ruling in a hearing on Monday (3rd February) about the alleged abduction, forced conversion and marriage of Huma Younus, a Catholic girl taken from her home on 10th October 2019.

Her parents believe her marriage is invalid in line with the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, which forbids marriage under the age of 18.

Huma’s parents produced evidence – including a baptismal certificate and testimony from her school – purporting to show she is 14 years old, born on 22nd May 2005.

The judges, Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali Shah, ruled that, as per Shari’a law, even if Huma was a minor, the marriage between her and her alleged abductor, Abdul Jabbar, would be valid as she had already had her first menstrual cycle.

Huma’s mother, Nagheena Younus, told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that Christians are not treated as equal citizens in Pakistan.

She said: “Once again, justice has been defeated and, once again, our state has shown itself unable to treat Christians as Pakistani citizens.”