Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on Dawn.com.

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience

.

Email


Your Name:


Recipient Email:


KARACHI: For the first time in the country's history, marriage laws for millions of Hindus living in Sindh have been codified after the Sindh Assembly approved the Hindu Marriage Bill, 2016, on Monday.

Senior PPP leader and Sindh Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmad Khuhro moved the bill in the provincial assembly which was later passed after a debate between the opposition and treasury benches.

The bride and groom cannot be less than 18 years, according to the text of the approved draft.

Married couples will be required to obtain a marriage registration certificate, while a couple can also face fines in case their marriage is not registered. The law can be applied retroactively to existing marriages.

Zoroastrians and Sikhs will also be able to register their marriages under the new law.

Hindus, despite being the second-largest religious minority group in Pakistan, with a population of 3.3 million, had no legal mechanism to register marriages.

Related: ‘Delay in Hindu marriage laws a denial of basic rights’

Unlike the Muslim majority or Christians, Hindus lacked any legal framework for protection of their marriages and are unable to provide legal proof when required.

Christians, the other main religious minority, have a British law dating back to 1870 regulating their marriages.

Without the law, Hindus say their women were easy targets for rape or forced marriage and faced problems in proving the legitimacy of their relationships before the law. Widows have been particularly disadvantaged.

Without official proof of relationships, getting government documents issued or moving forward on any other activity which involves documentation — from opening bank accounts to applying for visas — became next to impossible for any citizen.

After the 18th Amendment, the issues of religious minorities and their family matters became provincial subjects but the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies passed resolutions allowing the federation to legislate Hindu marriage law.

A similar resolution is pending in the Punjab Assembly.

A draft bill has already been passed by the National Assembly standing committee on law and justice, while Senator Nasreen Jalil, the chairperson of the Senate standing committee on law and justice, has also convened a meeting of the committee to take up the matter.

A clause in the draft Hindu Marriage Bill, which states that a marriage will be annulled if any of the spouses converts to another religion, is being vehemently contested by both its opponents and supporters.

Clause 12(iii) says a marriage will be annulled if any of the spouses converts to another religion

The patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, PML-N MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, said the matter related to the basic human rights of the Hindus in Pakistan.

“There are fears the clause would be misused for forced conversions of married women the same way young girls are being subjected to forced conversions.”

He referred to the current practice by certain elements who kidnapped teenage girls and eventually presented them in courts along with a certificate that the girl had married after converting to Islam.

PPP parliamentarian Senator Taj Haider opposed the idea in the law, and said the clause could also discourage cross-marriages.

The US Commission on Religious Freedom said in a recent report that conditions in Pakistan had “hit an all-time low” and governments had failed to adequately protect minorities and arrest those who attack or discriminate against them.

But many see the passage of the bill as a ray of hope.

“Now after the passage of this bill in the Sindh Assembly, after 70 years, Hindus will also have a marriage certificate just like Muslims do,” said Shahnaz Sheedi, the coordinator for South Asia Partnership Pakistan, a civil rights movement.

“We hope that bill will be soon adopted at the national level,” she said. The National Assembly in Islamabad has been considering such a bill it is still in committee.


Comments (72) Closed



Sajjad Khan Feb 15, 2016 04:37pm

They are not Hindus, they are our fellow brethren.Period.

Ali jee Feb 15, 2016 04:41pm

Same for everyone in Pakistan Muslim or not same law

SK Feb 15, 2016 04:44pm

Anything that gives minorities improved legal status is welcome! Good on you - those who moved the motion.

Asgher Ali Feb 15, 2016 04:45pm

A real positive step, though late. We have to be all inclusive for all Pakistanis regardless of their faith. That will be a step towards moral Ascension. It will with us bring tolerance towards religious freedom. Live and let live!!

Tanweer Khan Feb 15, 2016 04:45pm

@Sajjad Khan

Totally agreed - and as such they too should be allowed all the very same rights, benefits and privileges that the rest of us have been availing for almost 70 years.

Hasaan Feb 15, 2016 04:45pm

Good

Democratic Kp Feb 15, 2016 04:50pm

It must now be tabled in the National assembly to be approved without any delay!

YOUKNOWIMRIGHT Feb 15, 2016 05:16pm

Disgrace that it has taken 70 years, but better late than never. No people should be subjected to such degradation.

nishant Feb 15, 2016 05:19pm

Wow after 7 decades of injustice minorities in pakistan just got a marriage law.

Hashim Feb 15, 2016 05:22pm

At last some good news from Sindh Assembly!!

badshah Feb 15, 2016 05:45pm

Took them roughly 70 years. WOW!

shoaib Feb 15, 2016 05:52pm

@sajjad your confusing patriotism with legal requirements of personal law. if we go by your argument then no muslim could marry in america by nikah because then they would not be muslims, but only americans.

Shamsher Feb 15, 2016 06:04pm

Better late than never.

Harmony-1© Feb 15, 2016 06:17pm

Forced conversions is a serious issue that cannot be allowed in a civilised society. Strong laws and punishments are necessary to stop this happening.

A Troll From Nowhere Feb 15, 2016 06:25pm

It's fine as long as our fellow Hindu countryman are happy with it.

M.Saeed Feb 15, 2016 06:25pm

Good. It is never too late to start a good cause.

Shankar Feb 15, 2016 06:29pm

Shocking! It took you 70 years to do this?

khanm Feb 15, 2016 06:33pm

Sindh Assembly approves Hindu Marriage Bill.... what about the Hindu marriages prior to this bill..

Awais Ali Feb 15, 2016 06:39pm

They are not Hindu they are equal Pakistani like me you and others.

Zidane Feb 15, 2016 06:48pm

Its a rigorous effort from Provincial assemblies to bring minorities into national stream by their marriage documentation.In Pakistan, mostly minorities belongs to less develop areas and suffer with miserable conditions. Every person of that minority should aware this marriage law. Firstly aware minorities then implement it. It should be same in every province. I think implementation should be on federal level.

Zia Feb 15, 2016 06:50pm

Why different laws? All Pakistanis should be under one marriage law. And marriage annulment is for the individuals to decide not for the state to intervene. Still medieval laws. Most of the Pakistanis who care about Pakistan don't count and those few who don't care decide what people should do. Results are obvious.

pk Feb 15, 2016 06:53pm

@Sajjad Khan

Well said.

Karachiite Feb 15, 2016 06:55pm

We should respect all religions and we should treat every citizen of Pakistan the same way we treat the majority.

GA Feb 15, 2016 07:01pm

It's a disgrace that it took so long to give fellow citizens this law. But better late than never.

Nadeem Feb 15, 2016 07:06pm

Really good to see that.

Ayub Feb 15, 2016 07:14pm

Conversion from one religion to another religion, by free will, is the right of every person. It should not made an issue. All religions are sacred and venerable. it is upon the individuals how they interpret and follow their religion. all religions teaches us virtues. No religion allow the followers to kill or inflict harm on the followers of other religions.

Zak Feb 15, 2016 07:16pm

This should have been done 50/60 years ago. It never seemed to be an issue then. Was there a law, which got sidelined under politics.we need answers.

an expatriate Feb 15, 2016 07:20pm

A move in the right direction. In order to simply there should be a central registry to register ALL marriages regardless of religion, caste etc. All citizens should be treated equally.

SardarSuri Feb 15, 2016 07:21pm

@Sajjad Khan - I wish more people followed your line of thinking.

Muhaimen Feb 15, 2016 07:26pm

Its never too late.

Jayram Feb 15, 2016 07:27pm

Hi i am from Banglore India. I have been reading this newspaper since Jan 2016. And was really surprised after reading the comment from our fellow Pakistani friends. You are really good guys. I dont know why the electronic media from both sides spread bad rumor about each other. I dont see any difference in the way of thinking as i read your comments in this section. Majority of comments are progressive. I hope all the dispute and differences will be over soon in near future.

Agha Ata Feb 15, 2016 07:30pm

It took us almost 70 years to pass an absolutely necessary law for a big number of Pakistanis. Shame on us.

thetechie (India) Feb 15, 2016 07:53pm

India is moving from hindu and muslim personal laws to "unified civil law". Same law for every Indian. Why can't pakistan learn from India's mistakes? There should be one law per nation. Anyways, a welcome move for at least making a law for your minorities.

Khwarezmi Feb 15, 2016 08:00pm

There are no Hindu, only Pakistani. Period!!

Ali Feb 15, 2016 08:35pm

Better late than never!

Gerry D'Cunha Feb 15, 2016 08:50pm

Third generation Hindus will enjoy this rights in Pakistan

Pak Feb 15, 2016 09:03pm

@Jayram You are v right.People of both nations don't want war .They want peace and harmony.

ahsan7979 Feb 15, 2016 09:22pm

It is the duty of the government to protect the minorities and for all Muslims of Pakistan to stand up and fight for the rights of minorities.

Harmony-1© Feb 15, 2016 09:23pm

@Jayram - Most of what you say is right but there is one clear difference. We criticise our government heavily when we see a wrong but you guys are very protective of whatever your government does and I often say you are rather criticism-averse.

Muhammad Farooq Feb 15, 2016 09:29pm

This should have been done when first such marriage was solemnized on the soil of independent Pakistan.

vin Feb 15, 2016 09:41pm

@Jayram - You need to go to country side and find out the real situation in both India and Pakistan. English speaking people on both side have good intention but in country side it's a different story. And don't forget the mob mentality on both side.

Abdulla Hussain Feb 15, 2016 09:55pm

I don't understand why human being is tagged as majority & minority in their own country based on their population. Having different personal laws according to respective religion practices is understandable but grading them as majority & minority in matters of national interest should be abolished.

Zain Feb 15, 2016 10:23pm

Bravo

S. Ahmad Feb 15, 2016 10:33pm

@Zia A civilized society has one law for everybody but again, only a secular society can accept and practice uniform laws based on strict secularism.

Mudassir Feb 15, 2016 11:32pm

34 years of Martial law with continuous terms of 14, 11 and 9 years could not give this and any of such types of law. 7 years of continued democracy (though corrupt and inefficient) gave NFC Award, 18th Amendment, Law against harassment of women at working place (though at campuses is still pending), NAP, GB reforms, Balochistan package, BISP, CPEC and now Hindu Marriages Act to the people of Pakistan.

kam Feb 15, 2016 11:35pm

@thetechie (India). The Pakistani Hindu community wanted this law as per their own requirements, as a single unified law was not giving them same protection.

Kedar Feb 16, 2016 12:00am

Bravo Sindh !

IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Feb 16, 2016 12:52am

What Hindus? They are family just alike any buddy else. Sindh Government is a huge disappointment from the very start.

Prakash Feb 16, 2016 02:02am

From previous comments it looks like that pakistanis are the same kind hearted people as any indian.So cheers to all my Pakistani brothers.

HumanFirst Feb 16, 2016 02:23am

A good and very positive step in the right direction for the future of pakistan as a civalised nation. A little late perhaps nontheless never too late to respect all humans regardless their religious beliefs.

Anwar ali Feb 16, 2016 02:32am

They are in minority and this law will protect them from Raps and force marriages. A good step towards humanity.

Jawad Feb 16, 2016 03:56am

These pakistani hindus are like our brothers and sisters and they should be treated like one. I love pakistani minorities because they represent Pakistan not other countries.

Khan- Pakistani Feb 16, 2016 05:51am

I dont see any role of a Pakistani Muslim in Hindu marriage law except we have to pass it to make a law !

Hulagu Feb 16, 2016 05:57am

A good step. Kudos to Dawn and media for constantly following up on this urgent and serious matter!

Mo Feb 16, 2016 06:05am

There is no Hindu or Muslim,we are all Pakistanis. Thank you Government for waking up and doing this

Hellboy Feb 16, 2016 06:05am

Here in India Muslim are only community which has Muslim personal law board that gone too far.

Anniyah Feb 16, 2016 06:44am

Seems more sense to have standardised marriage laws that are the same for all the religions. The individual religions can regulate the form of the ceremony. The laws would regulate who is eligible for marriage and the process for registration to make legal.

Chamatkar Feb 16, 2016 06:49am

Better late than never. The inordinate delay just because of all assemblies whether provincial or national,are completely under control of feudal system,the priorities of feuds are not to think of minorities,or to think about urban populations rights, all along these feuds disregard the rights of urban people and imposed apartheid quota system and denied rights of job to urban educated guys,and appointed illiterate individuals of rural areas .Hindus are lucky they got success in marriage laws in 70 years,let's hope the urban population will get equal rights as per Constitution to join government jobs,and not to go abroad to seek jobs, as most of the educated guys from Karachi are going abroad for jobs,and they are better of there, but always worry about their city when they see gutters over flowing ,and criminals policing the province,bad governance and bad law & order situation.Good news such as Hindu Marriage Bill passed although pertains to minority is like a zephyr to deprived.

adil Feb 16, 2016 08:23am

What a disgrace. 70 years to have a basic right given to over 3 million people? Pakistan has a long long way to go to move into 21 century

Sheryar Feb 16, 2016 09:20am

So this was not in place for 70 odd years, well shame on us then!

FAYAZ ALI Feb 16, 2016 09:31am

Really, great achievement for Sindh Assembly.

rudraiah rajasekhar Feb 16, 2016 09:47am

Very positive step and congratulation to Sind assembly.

bkt Feb 16, 2016 09:56am

Excellent news! First positive news from the Sindh government.

Kamal Feb 16, 2016 10:22am

There should be a law if anybody kidnaps a Hindu girl must be punished severely.

Sadaf Feb 16, 2016 10:52am

Government should also take concrete steps to safeguard their rights, stop forced conversions, stop rapes, give them equal opportunities in education and jobs.

Ayaz Munir Feb 16, 2016 11:07am

3.3 Million? they are atleast over 5 million , once you come to Sindh , especially Interior, you will realize how big they are in Pakistan

sfomann Feb 16, 2016 11:38am

Shame on us for taking 70 years to do this

Dobhai Alagalag Feb 16, 2016 12:17pm

Good news. Der aaye durust aye. I commend my Pakistani brothers on the positive comments they have given. Most Indian people wish an end to this old enmity. How it is going to come about I don't know, for vested interests on both sides will keep rubbing salt in old wounds, keeping them alive.

I also commend the moderators of Dawn who block rabid comments and only allow sane voices to be heard. This is where moderators of the Times of India fail in their job. Any one can post any thing anonymously. That is the reason comments on the Times of India are so often abusive, full of hatred and vitriol. Believe me, ache log aur bhaichara dono taraf hai. An Indian and a staunch Hindu sends greetings to his Pakistani brethren.

Samad Chaudhry London Feb 16, 2016 12:54pm

Well done Shows equality in Pakistan system

Muzzamil Feb 16, 2016 12:58pm

These are Pakistanis, not a minority. Atleast in the eyes of law, all Pakistani should be equal. That's called secularism.

kukreja Srichand Feb 16, 2016 07:33pm

@ahsan7979 sir,
For me there is no Hindu & no Muslim or any other word. We are all HUMANS , Let we live in peace,Love each other. I fear if in future HUMAN race diminishes, we then say protect HUMAN race as we now try to save Lion/ Tigers etc.

adilshamsuddin Feb 16, 2016 09:54pm

Its about protecting fellow citizen of Pakistan no matter what religion they belong to and definately no class or cast. All are equal