The Senate Standing Committee on Interior has approved a bill for an increase in the marriageable aged for women to 18, despite opposition from the Pakistan Muslim League-N.

The Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2017 was moved two weeks ago by PPP Senator Sehar Kamran.

It suggests the minimum age women can be married be raised from 16 to 18, but on October 11 the committee rejected the bill after declaring it un-Islamic, even though the mover of the bill was not present during the meeting.

Due to the criticism that ensued, the following day the chairman of the committee, Senator Rehman Malik, said the bill would be reconsidered after getting input from all stakeholders.

The bill was subsequently included on the agenda for the committee meeting on Monday 23 October, and at the very start of the discussion, PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi said the bill should not be discussed at all as the committee had already rejected it.

Ms Kamran argued that as someone under the age of 18 could not enter into a legal contract, they could also not enter into marriage, which is also a contract.

She added that by being married off young, girls were being deprived of an education, and that their physical and mental health was being compromised.

Senator Abbasi opposed the bill and said it was an Islamic issue and that the matter of marriages should be left to parents to decide as they know what is best for their children.

But the bill was passed by the committee with a simple majority and will next be tabled in the upper house for a vote.