The Hindu Marriage Bill 2017, which is the first elaborate attempt to create adequate laws for the Hindu community, was adopted by the Senate on Friday. The bill had already been approved by the lower house and the National Assembly after consultation with the Hindu community and all forums concerned on September 26, 2015. There was no Hindu Marriage law in the country for 66 years and it has been a gross injustice to the community to have to wait this long to get their rights. Nonetheless the country’s leadership and all the political parties in the parliament have done a commendable job of finally introducing the law.

The bill will institutionalise marriages of the Hindu community as it relates to marriage, registration of marriage, separation and remarriage, with the minimum age of marriage set at 18 years for both boys and girls. The bill will also help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage.

The bill did not formulate without opposition as Senator Mufti Abdul Sattar of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) kindly reminded lawmakers that the Constitution was ‘vast enough’ to cater to such needs, and there was no need for this law. But thankfully for Mr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a leading Hindu lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, whose commitment and dedication to the cause finally led to this moment after three long years of hard work.

One of the most important purposes of the law is that it will protect Hindu girls from forced conversions, a prevailing and deplorable practice in Sindh. There were some concerns over one of the clauses of the bill that deals with ‘annulment of marriage’, which states that one of the partners can approach the court for separation if anyone of them changes the religion. The government must pave the way to enforce the law in true spirit and to end the marginalisation of the Hindu minority of Pakistan.