Child marriages — one of the worst forms of gender based violence — are rampant across Sindh, especially in rural areas. These marriages also include forced conversions where a girl from a minority religion is married to a Muslim male on the pretext that she converted to Islam.The Sindh Assembly promulgated the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013 and repealed the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1932 in the wake of 18th Amendment. These steps raised the legal age of marriage for a female from 16 years to 18 years.However, despite the existing legal framework on the prevention of child marriages in Sindh, such marriages continue to occur. The recent provisional order by the Sindh High Court Circuit Bench to allow Ravita Meghwar (Gulnaz) — who is only sixteen years old and supposedly converted to Islam — to stay with her husband casts scepticism on the efficacy of the law.We must understand the socio-legal issues of child marriage in Sindh before we can analyse why the law has failed to curb child marriage. Child marriages in Sindh are deeply rooted in the gender norms established through the intersection of patriarchy, religion, illiteracy and poverty.This is further complicated by the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 2013 which clearly indicates that a child marriage can only be dissolved by seeking khula under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939.Realistically, it was near impossible for lawmakers to establish a law that would dissolve child marriage automatically; which is what human rights activists demand. This is because of the various complexities in child marriage cases.For example, if a child marriage is consummated and a married female child conceives and a foetus is formed, legal abortion cannot take place. Although the act of consummation can be called an act of rape on account of the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act 2006, it still leaves unanswered questions over the fate of the foetus. This explains why judges avoid calling these marriages an act of rape. Child marriages in Sindh involve various complexities that can best be addressed by focusing on prevention. Such an approach should rely on a monitoring mechanism provided for under existing provincial laws Amidst these social and legal issues, how can we prevent child marriages? The only solution lies in strengthening the preventive mechanisms against child marriage which may not completely prevent child marriage but may substantially reduce its occurrence.The 2013 Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act does have such preventive mechanisms; however, these laws are not completely formed and are not exercised in the entire province.Under section 24(1) of the Act, a Provincial Monitoring Committee has to be constituted. The Committee’s mandate includes looking into complaints and taking Suo moto notice of violations of the law. This Committee has the capacity to play a significant role in preventing child marriages in Sindh. However, the Committee is yet to be formed.The Act also provides for the formation of District Monitoring Committees under section 35 (1). These committees are required to provide information to the Court or to the local police station that a child marriage is going to take place or is going to take place. Just like the Provincial Monitoring Committee, however, the District Monitoring Committees have not been formed either.The Child Protection Authority Act of 2011 is another law that can prevent child marriages in Sindh. Under section 16 (1) of this Act, child protection units have to be established at the district level.Till date, these units have been formed in only a few districts in Sindh and that too on the basis of financial support from an international donor agency.Thus, child marriages in Sindh involve various complexities which can best be addressed by focusing on prevention. This preventive approach should rely on a mechanism of monitoring which is provided for under laws such as the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act and the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act. The writer has a master’s degree in human rights and democratisation from the University of Sydney Published in Daily Times, July 14th , 2017.