KARACHI: The Sindh government notified on Thursday the Sindh Hindu Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2018. The bill, moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Functional leader Nand Kumar was passed by the assembly in March, earlier this year, to give couples the right of ‘separation’ and allowing Hindu widows to remarry.
The bill not only accords the right of separation to both the husband and wife, but also ensures the financial security of the wife and children.
“Either party to Hindu marriage, whether solemnised before or after the commencement of this Act, may present a petition to the court praying for decree of judicial separation,” the law states.
The law also places a general ban of underage marriages among members of the Hindu community. “The Hindu community had been protesting forced conversions and marriages of underage girls. This law has banned the marriage of minors from the Hindu community,” said Nand Kumar, adding that he had also moved a bill against the forced conversions of members of religious minorities, but the bill was gathering dust in the Sindh Assembly secretariat.
Referring to past practices, Kumar said Hindu women were considered lesser mortals, who were not even accorded the right to divorce before the enactment of this law. “The amendment to this law is aimed at getting rid of old and outdated customs,” he remarked.
Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto and other party leaders also felicitated the last provincial assembly’s lawmakers on the passage of the act, which was ratified by the Governor last week.
Before the passage of this law, there was no legal cover for Hindu marriages for the past seven decades.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2018.