Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act fails to protect Non-Muslim girls


14-year-girl was abducted from Jacobabad. Ali Raza Solangi, 30, had kidnapped her when she was going to school. She has been converted to Islam and married off to Ali Raza Solangi.

My daughter is kidnapped and Ali Raza who is a laborer – is responsible of her kidnapping. He is already married and has four children. How my daughter can like him,” said Vijay Kumar, father of a girl.    

In Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan – cases of conversions have been reported. In three months – three to four girls being kidnapped and converted to Islam. Police did not recover them.

Nevertheless, Sindh government tried to end child marriage – therefore – they legislated ‘Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2014. Sindh government introduced the act after Anjali Kumari’s case who was kidnapped – it was established; she was underage. The Court sent her shelter house and when she reached 18 age, then, she was sent to a man who married off to her.

Why Child Marriage Restraint Act cannot protect Non-Muslims girls:

“This is act will apply to Non-Muslims if both [boy and girl] are Non-Muslims – and, if girl is Non-Muslim and boy is Muslim, authorities will not implement the act, accordingly.” Because, Islam does allow conversion – including – marriage of minor, said Amar Nath, advocate.

Non-Muslims are not equal citizens – therefore – these kinds of laws do not apply to them.

Raj Kumar, activist criticized systematically discrimination in the state, saying, Non-Muslims are already discriminated in constitution of Pakistan, so, we do not see their laws, will help us.

The local police are reported to have stopped child marriage of Muslim girls. Conversely, the police fail to stop Non-Muslim girls’ marriage who are minor age.

“Once girl has been converted to Islam, there is no way to send back her to family – otherwise, she is worthy of being killed “Wajib-Ul-Qtl.” says Kalpina Devi, activist and advocate. She adds that child Marriage Act cannot protect Non-Muslim girls because mindset thinks that converting girl to Islam, will send them to Heaven [Jannat].

Veerji Kohli special assistance to Chief Minister of Sindh for Human Rights department agreed on the act was not implemented, equally. Hindu families are not able to present a proof of girl’s age. In Monika Kumari’s case – family proved her age and the court returned her to parents.

When asked Veerji Kohli, after few months – again, Monika Kumari was kidnapped and the whereabouts of her is still unknown, and another case of Christian girl in November, 2019 in Karachi was kidnapped, converted to Islam and then married off to an adult – and parents have proof that their daughter is underage. He responded that “I accept lack of implementation of the act and in 2020, our government will ensure to implement it.”

Asad Iqbal Butt spokesperson at Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, says that It is mindset that prevails in each institute of the state – even – some judges seen saying that “why you are following cases of conversion?”

You cannot implement the law unless you change mindset. “Mindset being built through syllabus in which is taught that Jews and Hindus are enemies. The state must change syllabus. The law is legislated by governments to appease international forums in order to receive funds,” he said.

Ravi Dawani, Secretary General at All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat says, some forces refrain from implementing the act. We have an example of governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer, was gunned down. He asked about Dr. Nimrita Kumari’s report – “who stops Sindh government from releasing report?” In Punjab, the court can allow girl to go home. But, in Sindh, despite the law – the courts send girls to shelter houses instead of sending back to their parents.

“Hindus are very disappointed and no one is interested in solving our issues,” said Ravi Dawani.

“The local police know about where girls are – they do not help families recover them because girl is Non-Muslim,” says Leela Raam, activist and lawyer.

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