60 years in waiting: Hindus demand matrimonial rights

Scheduled Caste Rights Movement (SCRM), ActionAid hold demonstration outside parliament.


Ppi March 29, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Condemning the delay in the passage of the Hindu Marriage Registration Act, Scheduled Caste Hindus, particularly women, gathered in Islamabad in front of the parliament to lodge a protest against consequential social discrimination they have to face in the absence of a law protecting their matrimonial rights.

Scheduled Caste Rights Movement (SCRM) in collaboration with ActionAid held the demonstration. The demonstration started with around 200 people, including Hindus from different regions of Pakistan and civil rights activists staging a mock marriage ceremony in front of the National Press Club to highlight the ineffectiveness of a marriage when it was not registered by the government.

Scheduled Caste women speaking on the occasion said that the absence of marriage registration law culminated in multiple social issues for their community, including incidents of abduction, forced conversion and deprivation of benefit from any government scheme.

Shakuntala Devi, from Multan, said, "It has been more than four years that we have been struggling for our rights. In 2011, a bill was presented in the National Assembly to pass a law to register Hindu marriage but so far it has seen no progress. Hindu women are being constantly victimised. In absence of a marriage law, they remain deprived of basic social, political and economic rights."

Reema Mai, from Rahim Yar Khan, said, “since the past 60 years, Hindu women are being discriminated against with girls and even married women being abducted and later re-married to non-Hindus, which goes unnoticed because there is no law to protect us.

Explaining early marriage in her community as a form of defense mechanism, she said, "we feel very insecure and our elders take pre-emptive measures by marrying us at a very early age."

The travails for her community, Mai said, did not end there. "We cannot move freely as there is always a fear of being abducted." She added that even getting the national identity card is an uphill task for them, "If we have to get our National Identity Card, it becomes the most challenging for us. We have to bribe the concerned staff for getting a NIC and similarly we cannot stay in a hotel because of our inability to produce a marriage registration certificate."

SCRM president, Guru Sukh Dev said that four years back in 2008, Scheduled Caste Hindus realised that they needed to have a collective platform for pitching their demands.

"SCRM is now a social movement with many successes to its credit, however still we are facing challenges to make our voices heard."

SCRM had lobbied with many parliamentarians from different parties and introduced a marriage registration bill in the parliament which was still pending.

“It has already been more than 60 years that any law to protect Scheduled Caste Hindus was discussed in the parliament. Now we earnestly demand early passage of Hindu marriage registration law so that it brings an end to our sufferings and insecurities,” Dev said.

COMMENTS (14)

Ali | 9 years ago | Reply

@Syed is right. The issue is divorce that is delaying this marriage law. The Hindu community wants to delete the divorce clause, which is not possible according to basic human rights. India has a divorce clause, but our Hindu community is opposing divorce right. Those who dont believe it, please google this site for: "Divorce Remains sticking point in Hindu Marriage Act", published on 12/10/2011.

munna | 9 years ago | Reply

This is the thanks the non-muslim minorities for being loyal to the soil of Pakistan prior to Pakistsn.What do you think if the people take to arms for their rights?

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