Pakistan’s religious body known as the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has deemed a bill that would outlaw pedophilia “anti-Islamic” and “blasphemous,” according to various media reports.
Marvi Memon, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party, introduced the legislation last month. The Child Marriage Restraint Bill would have imposed harsher punishment for those who “marry” minors.
Nevertheless, Memon withdrew the legislation after CII, which advises the legislature on whether or not proposed laws comply with sharia, declared the bill “anti-Islamic” and “blasphemous,” reported The Express Tribune.
Despite criticism from various individuals, the council has stuck by its earlier ruling that girls as young as 9 years old are eligible for marriage “if the signs of puberty are visible,” pointed out The Times of India.
“About two years ago, CII Chairman Mohammad Khan Sheerani told the National Assembly that the council had given its recommendations over the suggested law and this should not have been discussed anymore,” revealed the Tribune.
In May 2014, Dawn quoted the chairman as saying that “laws that defined a minimum age for marriage were not Islamic and should be repealed, adding that the council would recommend that parliament amend these laws to bring them in accordance with Islamic principles.”
Following the council’s lead, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony also rejected Memon’s anti-pedophilia bill.
“The committee meeting, which was presided over by its Chairman Hafiz Abdul Karim, unanimously rejected the bill on ‘purely religious grounds,’” noted the Tribune.
Memon withdrew her proposal after the panel shot it down.
“Parliament cannot create legislation that is against the teachings of the Holy Quran or Sunnah,” the CII chairman has reportedly alleged, using relevant laws and references from the Quran and Hadith to support his arguments.
“According to Islamic laws, marriage can be solemnized when a girl attains puberty, Sheerani claimed. Under the Constitution, the CII chairman is the final authority in the council with the choice to overrule the voice of all members,” reported the Tribune. “While the CII’s decisions are not binding on parliament, they are treated as the guiding principles to frame laws.”
Under standing law, stipulated in the Child Marriage Restriction Act of 1929, the minimum age for marriage is 18-years-old for men and 16-years-old for women.
Nevertheless, the council has deemed that legislation non-compliant with Islamic laws, according to the Independent.