Pause. Rewind. What? Pakistan’s Premature Puberty Problem

Beware the masala. (Photo: Heather Rai/Creative Commons)

Beware the masala. (Photo: Heather Rai/Creative Commons)

Pakistan is an undeniably hot place, what with the deserts and the unforgiving sun. Throw spicy food into the mix and the combination is surely a recipe for disaster. At least, that’s what the country’s Ministry of the Interior says.

See, the MoI–not to be confused with moi–believes that children in Pakistan mature earlier than those in other countries. The totally true and obviously grounded in science reason for this is that the heat conferred upon youths by way of temperature and foodstuffs actually somehow causes their bodies to enter puberty sooner. And we Americans thought we had it bad with our oversexed, under-sensitized tweens. We can stop worrying drivel like the “Twilight” series is corrupting our kids; instead, we just have to make sure parents in the South start cutting back on the jalapeños. We don’t want a Pakistani premature puberty problem on our hands.

What’s the big deal, you ask? So some crackpots made their way into the Pakistani government–so what? Well, as shocking as it is that individuals who would believe environmental and culinary factors could so effectively transform an entire population’s physiology somehow attained federal positions, we need to consider the larger implications of this implausible situation.

The major problem here is that the MoI seems to be using this false heat-and-maturity claim to head off legal changes that would improve children’s lives. Take, for example, a bill that would ban child pornography, trafficking and abuse that was introduced three years ago. Certainly, such a law (if enforced) would serve to protect children’s rights. However, the MoI is blocking cabinet support for this bill by hoisting high the claim that children in Pakistan mature earlier–thereby effectively robbing them of their childhood and the deserved protections that go along with it.

Using the Sharia argument that children become adults when they reach puberty, the MoI is also claiming that the age of criminal responsibility must not be raised from seven, where it is now. Yes, you read that right. In Pakistan, first graders are tried as adults. Wait, did I say tried? I meant punished. The United Nations, on the other hand, says the minimum age for criminal responsibility should be 12 (seriously, let them get to junior high first), but Rehman Malik and his ministry are having none of it. Apparently, raising the age of adulthood could allow would-be suicide bombers to fly under the radar. Clearly the problem here is not so much that there are potential 10-year-old Pakistanis willing to blow themselves up, but that a change in law would make it harder to punish some of them.

To Pakistan’s Ministry of the Interior, we pose a question: Seriously?

For fabricating a physiological condition for the purpose of avoiding legislation that would better the lives of children and make the government more accountable to them, the MoI is hereby:


Amina Elahi is’s Managing Editor. Check out her blog, where she posts words and images that make her think.