Pakistan Proposes ‘Bizarre’ Bill On Forced Marriage

Rasheed stated that if the bill is passed, it will bring growth, happiness, and the promotion of constructive avenues for the province's kids

Pakistan
Pakistan also has the world's sixth-highest number of women married or in marriage before the age of 18. Wikimedia commons

BY- JAYA CHOUDHARY

In an unusual move, a Pakistani senator has proposed enacting legislation that would make it mandatory for parents to marry off their children once they reach the age of 18. This bill was proposed by Syed Abdul Rashid, MLA of the Muttahida Majaliy-e-Amal(MMA). Sindh Compulsory Marriage Act 2020 is the name of the bill. According to the draft, parents of an adult who is not married off after turning 18 must “present an undertaking with the reasonable reason of delay before the Deputy Commissioner of the District,” and those who fail to submit the undertaking would be fined Rs 500 (US$3.22) each.

Rasheed stated in a video message broadcast following the filing of the bill that “societal problems, child rapes, immoral activities, and criminality” were on the rise in the country.
“To regulate all of this… Muslim males and females have been granted the right to marry after puberty or after the age of 18 years, and fulfilling this is the obligation of their guardians, particularly their parents.” Rasheed stated that if the bill is passed, it will bring growth, happiness, and the promotion of constructive avenues for the province’s kids.

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Rashid added, “Unemployment and inflation are major issues along the path of Nikah because we have not been able to absorb the precepts of Islam.” Dowry should be prohibited, and measures should be enacted to prevent it. Meanwhile, Pakistani activists have labeled the new bill a “joke” and have completely rejected it.

However, the law is unlikely to be enacted, but the proposed bill elicited a large response on social media, with the majority of people criticizing it. They say that a separate bill must be passed for Hindu girls in this matter.

According to a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) assessment, at least 1,000 non-Muslim females in Pakistan are forcefully converted to Islam each year. Many of these females are from the Hindu community in Sindh, which has a population of roughly eight million Hindus. Pakistan also has the world’s sixth-highest number of women married or in marriage before the age of 18. There has been a significant increase in the frequency of coerced conversions of girls from minority ethnicities in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

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Pakistan is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which demands that the right to religious freedom includes the ability to change one’s faith and that no one shall be forced to change their religion. Despite the numerous examples of forced conversions, the country has so far rejected two legislation.

Minorities in Pakistan, particularly Hindus, continue to endure persecution at the hands of both state and non-state actors, with violent occurrences and forced conversions on the rise. In December 2020, the United States State Department designated Pakistan as a “country of special concern” for breaches of religious liberties, a label that the Pakistani government denies.