The recent remarks by the Ministry of Human Rights to amend Christian Divorce law 1869, are laudable following a meeting with National -Lobbying Delegation for Minorities — a group of 24 minority delegates representing Christian, Hindu and Sikh communities across Pakistan. The century-old personal laws of religious minorities governing marriage and divorce matters have been deliberated and discussed among Christian Clergy, Parliamentarians and Civil Society for more than two decades but a revision to these laws still faces impediments from within the Christian community because of diverse and divided theological positions, and lack of political will of the minority parliamentarians. Christian Divorce Act 1869, pertains to the divorce law of Christians which was framed by the British for all the sects in Christianity. Prescribed by the said act, there are three modes available to file for a divorce. Namely, dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage and judicial separation. Adultery is considered a cardinal sin and is considered as reason enough for the dissolution of marriage, however, using adultery as a basis for divorce causes a lot of problems. The law requires that Christian couples seeking to dissolve their marriage should have evidence to support their claim. Moreover, this gives rise to character assassinations and narrows the application of divorce on grounds other than adultery. Also, according to Atif Jamil a Christian lawyer, in some cases, couples end up falsely accusing their spouses to get a divorce, and that leads to social stigmatisation of the accused. Before 1981, Section-7 of the Matrimonial Clause Act 1973, was part of the Christian Divorce Law that allowed divorce to be sought on grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marriage rather than adultery alone. However, general Ziaul Haq in the spirit of hyper-religiosity struck down Section-7, that resultantly only left adultery as grounds of divorce by using section 10 of the Christian Divorce Law 1869. According to section 10 of Christian Divorce Act 1869, a petition for a dissolution of marriage may be filed by the husband by charging his wife with adultery, whereas for a female spouse, she has to prove adultery coupled with cruelty, or adultery in addition to bigamy. There are other grounds such as incestuous adultery, rape, sodomy, and bestiality that can also be used to file for a divorce. Before 1981, section 7 of the Matrimonial Clause Act 1973, was part of the Christian Divorce Law that allowed divorce to be sought on grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marriage rather than adultery. However, general Zia-Ul-Haq in the spirit of hyper-religiosity struck down section 7, that resultantly only left adultery as grounds of divorce by using section 10 of the Christian Divorce Law 1869 The demand to amend Christian Divorce law has been made by the Civil Society, and in the year 2016, this issue was brought into the mainstream national discourse among the clergy, minority parliamentarians, and civil society. This was after a case filed by a Christian man Amin Masih, who asked for the restoration of section 7 in the Christian Divorce law that would allow him to end the marriage without accusing his wife of divorce. A debate commenced among Christians, the Synodical, Women Division of the Church of Pakistan held a consultation on Christian Divorce Law 1869, in November 2017, in Lahore where Christian Women stated their position, that the “existing law on Christian Divorce does not allow any ground other than adultery to seek dissolution of marriage and that has severely affected the lives of Christian women, whose right to seek legal divorce is eclipsed with discriminatory cultural mores and patriarchal norms. Therefore both men and women should be allowed respectable grounds to pursue the dissolution of marriages in order to protect the rights of minority women”. Diametrically opposed to this, a few minority parliamentarians namely Tahir Khalil Sindhu, Tariq C. Qaiser and a few others belonging to the ruling party then, Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) strongly opposed the revision to the said laws on the pretext that change in divorce laws is tantamount to altering the Bible. However, Mary Gill, the MPA of the same political party shared her position favouring grounds other than adultery to be instituted for the dissolution of a Christian marriage, and she also gave a statement during the hearing of the Amin Masih case which was in support of the restoration of Section-7. The clergy also seemed divided on this issue. Those opposing the changes support their arguments through literalistic interpretation of the Biblical and maintain that adultery is the only ground for dissolution On the other side, Bishop Emeritus of Lahore, Dr Alexander John Malik, rendered support for Section-7, by submitting a written petition in the Amin divorce case. According to him, the liberal interpretation of the Biblical text advocates the emancipation of human life from the perpetual agony and pain of an unhappy marital alliance. “The expunction of Section-7 from Christian Divorce Law by general Zia in 1981, was done without consulting the clergy”, Bishop Malik shared. Amin Masih’s request was finally heard and Section-7 was restored by the Lahore High Court that sanctioned relief to Christian couples to divorce without accusing each other of adultery. The judgment was hailed by Christian women and civil society with the exception of some groups of Christian clergy that filed the intra-court appeal against the restoration of Section-7. Divorce from a distressful marriage means emancipation from perpetual pain, abuse, agony and violence in marital relations, but Christian women seeking divorce have to face the rigours of a legal battle to exercise their right to divorce. However, Dr Shireen Mazari’s recent statement, to amend these laws reflect her commitment towards protecting the rights of religious minorities and has given us hope that justice will prevail. Ayra Indrias teaches Women Studies at Kinnaird College for Women Lahore and is a PhD Student in Gender Studies at the University of Punjab Lahore Published in Daily Times, September 23rd 2018.