Hindus do not have any existing marriage law in Pakistan. Currently in the absence of it, they do not have any legal document, pertaining to proof of marriage, or any legal rights that might follow. The National Assembly is in the process of approving two Hindu marriage bills, however it has been two years, and they have once again deferred the decision.

With news of Hindu girls being forcibly kept in madrassas to study Islamiyat, and then married off to Muslim men, we desperately need to pass laws like the marriage bill, in order to at least give them some sort of leverage to use against transgressors and harassment. It is because of the lack of laws that can protect their rights that minorities are ready to leave Pakistan. With the Marriage Bill, the Hindu community will finally have legal rights over inheritance, remarriage, separation, adoption of children and annulment of marriage, providing some sort of legitimacy to the community.

Marriage and separation-related complications have increased for non–Muslims after the 18th Amendment, under which religious matters and marriage issues were devolved to the provinces. However, this has done nothing to improve matters for them, where none of the provinces have drafted any legislation to cater to communities living under their safeguard. There has rather, been an increase in forced marriages and abductions of the Hindu community, especially in Sindh where they are pinning their hopes on the Supreme Court to take immediate notice of the situation.

This bill was jointly presented in the parliament last year, by the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Another marriage bill was tabled by law minister Pervaiz Rashid in March of this year, with no objections by any one for the approval of both. Why it is still taking so long to get these bills passed when there is no controversy surrounding the bills nor are their any major objections? These draft laws are very obvious pieces of legislation, and much needed. Yet, they can’t find space in our legislative system for no particular reason.