ISLAMABAD: Minority rights activists have protested against the government apathy towards their demand for a marriage registration law for Hindus.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, Scheduled Caste Rights Movement Pakistan (SCRM) Chairman Ramesh Jaipal said that the Hindu Marriage Registration Bill was presented to the National Assembly 2011 and again in 2014. He said the political parties had pledged to quickly pass the law, but no progress has been made since.
The Supreme Court has also asked the government to take measures for a Hindu marriage registration bill.
Jaipal said the bill was presented to the Ministry of Minority Affairs in 2008. Later the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) took up the draft and referred it to the Ministry of Human Rights in 2011.
He said they had been demanding a marriage registration law since 2009.
SCRM President Guru Sukh Dev Ji said Hindus had been deprived of a marriage bill for decades. He said Muslims and Christians are issued marriage certificates by the government, but not Hindus.
Without a legal marriage document, Hindus face a host of problems. “We cannot book a room in a hotel without a marriage document and cannot list ourselves as husband and wife on our national identity cards,” said Dev Ji.
Hindu representatives said they were happy when parliament took up the draft bill. “But parliamentarians now are using delaying tactics.”
SCRM Coordinator Radha Bheel said, “Our women are abducted and we are unable to take any legal action against the culprits because we do not have any legal documentation.” She said that Hindus in Pakistan had been struggling to get social justice and face discrimination on a daily basis.
“We have raised voice against abduction and conversion of our women, but no one is ready to help. Local landlords habitually abduct married Hindu girls, force them to convert to Islam, and marry them against their will because they know that their husbands would not be able to produce legal proof of the earlier marriage,” said Radha.
Jaipal said that MNAs and MPAs on minority seats spent more time defending their political parties than the minorities that they represent.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2014.