New Delhi/Islamabad, Feb 7 : Men in Pakistan can marry underage girls in accordance with Sharia law as long as they have had their first menstrual cycle, a high court in the country has ruled.
The verdict has triggered outrage among many on social media.
The Sindh High Court in Karachi on February 3 gave the ruling in the case of 14-year-old Huma Younus, a Catholic girl who was abducted, forcibly converted and married off to a Muslim adult in October 2019.
Her parents went to the police and the court seeking justice in the matter.
A well-known Pakistani journalist, Naila Inayat, had last year quoted Huma's mother Nagina Younas as saying, "Should Christian mothers kill their daughters if conversion and kidnapping is their fate in Pakistan?"
Though the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act forbids marriage under the age of 18, the Sindh High Court put it aside.
Infuriated by the court verdict, Karachi-based journalist Daanika Kamal tweeted, "She is a child.
14 years of age. Abducted, converted to Islam by force (and) made to marry the man that abducted her. Court ruled that under Shariah law, the marriage is valid if she has had her first period. This is the state of our minorities, of our women."
European Christians on social media called it "wrong and disgusting" and urged the European Union Commission and the international community to terminate all ties with Pakistan.
Incidentally, in a somewhat similar case in India, a Delhi court in 2017 had acquitted a Muslim man accused of eloping with a Muslim minor under Muslim law.
The court had noted that there was a major discrepancy between Muslim law and the provisions of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.