Forced conversions, mob violence and sectarianism will no longer go unpunished after Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a bill on 6 February amending some of its criminal laws.

The amended law on forced marriage for minority religious groups now applies to minors as well as women, with the punishment more severe “in the case of a girl child”. Other changes include bringing ‘mob justice’ under the anti-terrorism act, and increasing fines and sentences for hate crime.

Although the legal changes still need presidential sign off, activists are praising them. “Mob justice has become a part of people’s mindset. There was a great need to make it a punishable offence,” Samuel Pyara, the Christian president of Bright Future Society, told Asia News.