Pakistan court declared an underage girl’s marriage valid because she had her 1st menses before marriage

Can the menstrual cycle of an underage girl decide if she is ready to get married or not? The question is not about deciding the right age for a girl to get married, but the question is a question mark on the mentality of the people who think a menstrual cycle can be the basis of getting a girl married. 

A recent incident in Pakistan brought the skewed mentality of the people in the limelight who think that an underage girl’s forced marriage is valid only because she had her first menstrual cycle before the marriage. The case is about a 14 year old Christian girl Huma, who lives in Muslim majority country Pakistan. 

Huma was only fourteen when she was abducted in October 2019 and forced to change her religion to Islam from Christianity by her abducter Abdul Jabbar. After forcibly converting her Islam, he married her without her consent, and since then, her parents Younis and Nagheena Masih are fighting for justice.

But, the events took an unfortunate turn when the Sindh High Court declared the marriage valid. The reason behind declaring the marriage valid was stated by Court Judges Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali after confirming her age.  According to the judges, the Sharia law clearly states that if the girl has had her first menstrual cycle before marriage, then the marriage will be valid even if Huma is underage. 

Tabussam, Huma’s lawyer, fought against the judgement as it was not in accordance with the Singh Child Marriage Act 2014, which outlaws all the marriages before the age of 18. She even said that she and the girl’s parents have reasons to believe that, “the investigating police officer was supporting Abdul Jabbar and his family. They also fear that the test results of Huma’s age could be falsified and she might be sent with her husband,” 

Now, as the ruling has been passed, they are determined to take the case to the Supreme court and have requested to keep their daughter in a women’s shelter where she is safe and away from the abductor. They have produced all the proofs declaring Huma underage, including the church’s testimony, and are also pleading the International community to support them and help them fight injustice. 

It will be a long battle for the parents and the minor Huma to fight in Muslim majority Pakistan. We hope that she gets justice and a second chance to live a life of dignity and freewill.