Pakistan raises age for marriage from 14 to 18

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A law passed in the Pakistani parliament on Wednesday removes the age limit for marrying in a country that is one of the most conservative in the world. The nation’s National Assembly approved the National Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill by a vote of 83 to 69 after international pressure on the issue.

The bill will allow girls younger than 18 to marry if their marriages last less than three years — but those who marry after that age must agree to a term of chemical castration as a condition for their release. The law is expected to be implemented in 2019, and the parliament extended that deadline by a further year until it could discuss legislation to extend the deadline, despite strong opposition from some political parties.

Under the age restrictions, married girls had been legally allowed to marry at 14, and the marriage was even punishable by six months in prison or a fine. The amendment means that women and girls now have a legal right to divorce before reaching 18.

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