In accordance with Sharia law, Pakistan court has ruled that men can marry underage girls as long as they have had their first menstrual cycle after which it sparked 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.

The Catholic teen’s parents said that the girl was born on 22 May 2005 and have provided a baptismal certificate and school testimony as evidence that she is 14.

During the hearing, the parents argued that her marriage is invalid in line with the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, which forbids marriage under the age of 18.

The judges, Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali Shah ruled that, as per Sharia law, even if Huma was a minor, the marriage between her and her alleged abductor, Abdul Jabbar, would be valid as she had already had her first menstrual cycle.

Taking to Twitter, Karachi-based journalist Daanika Kamal tweeted, “She is a child. 14 years of age. Abducted, converted to Islam by force & made to marry the man that abducted her. The 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.

The Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed in 2014 in order to stop forced marriages to minors in the province, primarily of Hindu and Christian girls, where it is prevalent.

However, the new court ruling proves that it was merely an attempt to improve the image of the country in front of the international community.

(With inputs from agency)