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Christian marriage and divorce bill ready in Pakistan



The government of Pakistan has finalized the draft of a new bill to address the long-standing demand of the Christian minority to address laws governing marriage and divorce.

“We have prepared the Christian Marriage and Divorce Bill by consulting relevant stakeholders. They have acknowledged that there were several issues which were required to be resolved,” said Shireen Mazarai, human rights minister.

Mazari made the announcement while speaking at the Interfaith Conference for Young Women organized by the Catholic Diocese of Peshawar, the Church of Pakistan, Jamia Ashrafi Islamic Seminary and the Interfaith Harmony Council on Feb. 18.

“Our government has taken a rights-based approach to protect the rights of minorities guaranteed by the constitution. Women and minorities are among the most vulnerable sections of society and thus require special safeguards to ensure that their rights are protected,” she said.

She said that the beauty of Pakistan lies in the diversity of people from various religious and social backgrounds, which also enriches society.

“Islam gives us the responsibility to respect all religions. Pakistan is among the countries which provides personal laws to minorities, including the Hindu Marriage Bill,” she added.

The minister said the government had also taken some legislative measures to protect women’s rights such as the Anti-Rape Ordinance and the Forced Conversion Marriages Bill.

Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council and the prime minister’s aide on minority affairs, said women and girls play an important role in the reformation process.

“The constitution of Pakistan also provides equal rights to non-Muslims. There is no concept of forced marriages in Islam. Minorities should not feel scared or threatened. The state will go after the elements who are trying to harm them,” he said.

“We expect a positive role from human rights groups and non-government organizations and invite them to constructive talks.”

The proposed Christian Marriage and Divorce Act, if passed by parliament, will replace the Christian Divorce Act, 1869, and the Christian Marriage Act, 1872.

Four million Christians, who account for around 5 percent of Pakistan’s population, have been deeply affected by the absence of laws governing their marriages and divorces.

The bill will amend 140-year-old Christian personal laws.


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Governor Kemp Rolls Out “Faith Protection Act” Legislation




Atlanta– Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced his administration’s introduction of the “Faith Protection Act,” which would ensure the emergency powers of any governor of Georgia are not used to “specifically limit the practice of any religion.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, people of all faiths across America were told by state governments how, where, when, or even if they could worship at all. Not in Georgia. We chose to work alongside congregations across our state to ensure they practiced their faith safely and in accordance with public health guidance,” said Governor Kemp.

“The Faith Protection Act will ensure the emergency powers of any governor of Georgia in the years to come are not used to limit the God-given right to worship. In Georgia, we never shuttered churches, synagogues, or other places of worship because we value faith, family, and freedom. With the Faith Protection Act signed into law, Georgia will be a sanctuary state for people of faith.”

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Pakistan: Christian college student abducted at gunpoint



Gujranwala – The Pakistani police have registered a complaint about the kidnapping of another Christian student from Lahore in order to force her into an Islamic marriage. Mehwish Bibi, a student at the Women’s College in the city of Gujranwala, left her home at 8.10 am on February 18, to go to college but she never returned home. The family suspects kidnappings with the aim of forced marriage. Patras Masih, the young woman’s father, wrote down the following in the investigation report: “We looked for our daughter and started asking people about her. Two Christians, Masih and Akram Masih, informed us that they saw a Muslim, Muhammad Sabir, who with the help of two accomplices kidnapped her and pointed a gun at her. According to the witnesses, they forced my daughter into a white pickup truck. We ask the police to rescue my daughter as soon as possible. We demand justice and severe punishment for the perpetrators”.

Khalid Shahzad, human rights and religious minorities activist comments to Fides: “It is sad that we have to take note of yet another episode of the kidnapping of a Christian girl. Cases of kidnapping of young women belonging to religious minorities are increasing in Punjab Province. It is tragic that no one tried to stop the kidnappers from kidnapping a Christian girl. Every day Christian families live in worry and fear that their daughters will be victims of kidnappings”.

Christian communities have long urged the government to stop the phenomenon of the forcible kidnapping and conversion of Christian minors, complaining that impunity promotes such crimes. Impunity, they note, encourages such crimes. According to data confirmed to Agenzia Fides by the National Commission for “Justice and Peace” of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, there are around 1,000 cases of kidnapping of young Christian and Hindu women who are abducted from their families for the purpose of marriage and forced conversion to Islam every year.

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