Sindh Assembly approves Hindu Marriage Bill
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 marriage registration certificated while a couple can also face fines in case their marriage is not registered. Zoroastrians and Sikhs will also be able to register their marriages.
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. 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.
Hindu women have had to face problems in proving their relationships when dealing with officialdom, while widows were 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.