‘A girl should only be married off when she is mentally mature’

In a gauzy fantasy, Safia Badal imagined becoming a bride and looking “the prettiest on my wedding day.” But at 13, she was surprised by a proposal and same-day marriage – in an ordinary dress. Had she been a burden on her impoverished, divorced parents? As a 19-year-old homemaker in the capital of Punjab province, Safia remains in a marriage that has brought disappointments – but also two young sons.


My name is Safia, and I am a resident of Bilalnagar neighborhood in Lahore.

I was married off when I was just 13.

Every girl wishes to become a bride and move to her new home.

This is the day when she looks the prettiest of all.

This is what I wished, too.

One day, some guests arrived, and they talked about a proposal.

I was married off the same evening in the dress I was already wearing.

I do not know if a girl is a burden on her parents or not.

It is up to the parents to decide.

My parents got divorced, and I moved with my mother to my grandmother’s house.

There was poverty in the house.

I am 19, and my older son is 3½ years old. The younger one is 1½ years old.

A girl should not be married off at a very young age because she does not know how to manage a household.

She is not mature enough at that age.

A girl should only be married off when she is mentally mature.

What the community says

بلوغ کے بعد جنسی ضرورت شدت سے محسوس ہوتی ہے اور شادی کے بغیر جنسی ضرورت پوری کرنا غیر مذہبی، غیر فطری، غیر انسانی اور ایک حیوانی عمل ہے... فطری راستہ ترک کرنے سے زناکاری، ہم جنس پرستی اور خود لذتی کو فروغ ملتا ہے جو کئی لاعلاج بیماریوں کا باعث بنتا ہے.. لیکن لبرل طبقہ اس کو کبھی Highlight نہیں کرتا...

TRANSLATION: One feels a strong urge for sexual intercourse after reaching adolescence, and trying to fulfill this urge outside wedlock is against the religion, unnatural, inhuman and devilish. If the natural remedy is not provided, sex outside wedlock, homosexuality and masturbation get promoted, which results in incurable diseases. However, the liberal elements of the society do not highlight this aspect.

Gul Muhammand

Swat, Pakistan

14 سال کی عمر میں شادی ہو جانی چاہئے ۔ عورت کے لیے بھی ٹھیک اور اس گھر والوں کے لیے بھی ٹھیک۔

TRANSLATION: A girl should be married off at 14. This will be good for the woman as well as her family.

Qari Fida Mohammad

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Global perspective

Percentage of women married before 18
10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
Show map

United States


The number of children married per 1,000, ages 15-17 years old

(That's about .6%
of 15- to 17-year-olds .)

The term ‘child marriage’ refers to formal marriages and informal unions in which a girl or boy under age 18 lives with a partner as if married. In an informal union, a couple lacks a formal civil or religious ceremony. Our graphic is based on United Nations information. The main sources are national census and household surveys, including the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). Surveys are subject to sampling and measurement error. We used the U.N. child marriage and population figures to approximate how many women in each country were married before 15 and before 18.

Source: “Child Marriage Database”. UNICEF (March 2018)

“World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017)