A three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC), headed by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, is currently hearing a case regarding the hardships faced by the minorities living in Pakistan. One of the issues that have been highlighted by the representatives of the Hindu and Christian communities is the abduction, forcible conversion, and forced marriages of women. We’re all familiar with several cases where a girl is abducted, converted to Islam against her will, forced into a marriage, and forever condemned to a life of subjugation and mistreatment. Very few cases manage to make headlines. Even fewer reach the courts, and those that never result in justice for the affected party. There are also cases where married women were abducted, forcibly converted and remarried. Now, one would think that what about her previous marriage?

Well, if she goes to the court seeking justice, she would be asked whether her ‘new marriage’ has been consummated. If so, she is convicted of Zina under Sharia law, and sent to prison. No wonder most victims decide against taking the matter to the honourable courts. Marriages within Christians are registered under the Christian Marriage Act 1872. The law is there. However, the problem, as it usually turns out, lies in implementation. Union Councils, throughout the country, have been hesitant to register marriages in violation of their legal duty. After recent court orders directing them to do so, it remains to be seen whether this practice of non-compliance will the law for no good reason would cease to exist. For the Hindu community, there is no law which regulates their marriages. This makes it extremely easy for aggressors to take advantage of the situation.

Another fundamental problem is the court’s reluctance to recognize the prevalent phenomenon of forcible conversions. A conversion is a conversion in the court’s eyes. At least that is what their practice suggests. Surrounding circumstances are completely ignored, and this inhumane exercise of manipulation and aggression is considered legitimate. And if a complainant dares to declare that they still hold true to their original faith, charges under the infamous blasphemy laws quickly follow. Simply put, they can either choose to suffer at the hands of the courts, or just accept their fate and surrender.

This simply cannot be allowed to go on. This country’s track record with regards to minority rights is utterly shameful. Our current practices are only making matters worse for them. For how long will we turn a blind eye to these barbaric activities carried out under the guise of religion? So few have raised their voice against such practices, and for that reason, they have been singled out and persecuted with impunity. The solution lies in a collective struggle to rid our society of such evils.