Man convicted of marrying underage girl

A sessions court has sentenced a man to two years in the custody of a probation officer for marrying an underage girl, according to a news report.

Additional District and Sessions Judge (west) Irshad Hussain found Muhammad Aslam, 40, guilty of marrying a 15-year-old girl under Section 3 of the Sindh Child Restraint Marriage Act.

The convict would stay at his home with his wife, the same underage girl, under the supervision of the probation officer.

Explaining the decision for not sending him to jail, the judge noted that it would be more appropriate to hand over him to the probation officer because the convict was a first-time offender and the sole breadwinner of his wife and infant daughter.

‘Sending him in jail to serve out the sentence will not benefit him to reform his life and mend his ways,’ the judge remarked.

During the trial, the convict pleaded guilty and threw himself at the mercy of the court.

According to the prosecution, the complainant, the father of an underage girl, informed the police that his young daughter in May 2022 had been abducted by Aslam from their neighbourhood to commit rape or forcibly marrying her.

Meanwhile, the underage girl, along with her husband, approached a judicial magistrate to record her statement, stating that she had left her father`s house of her own free will and wanted to contract a `court marriage’ with Aslam.

The court disposed of the FIR after recording her statement.

The complainant approached the Sindh High Court, which ordered a medical examination to determine the girl`s age.

The medical certificate stated that she was 15 years old when she left her house.

Consequently, the court instructed the addition of sections of the Child Marriage Restraint Act and declared co-accused Arif Hussain, Aman Gul, and Nikah Khawan Moulvi Karamat as proclaimed offenders.

During cross-examination, the girl stated that she was 19 years old at the time of the marriage. She denied allegations of abduction by her husband and stated that she willingly consented to the marriage. She rejected the claim that she had filed a Khula application in a court. She stated that her husband was properly taking care of her and their daughter.

Furthermore, she expressed ignorance of the illegality of marriage involving underage individuals.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 14th March 2024.

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