Editorial : Hindu marriages - Sunday 3rd April 2011

AS part of the movement for the rights of scheduled caste Hindus in Pakistan, activists called on Thursday for the promulgation of a law formalising Hindu marriages. The fact that many Hindu couples still cannot acquire legal proof of marriage has implications broader than simply a lack of recognition by the state; it can become a significant hurdle when trying to get national identity cards, filing for divorce, obtaining property rights or even travelling within the country as a couple without facing harassment. Speakers at Thursday’s conference also pointed out that it makes it difficult to file cases in instances of abductions and forced conversions leading to remarriages, and that the lack of a CNIC makes it harder to cast votes. In the absence of legal documentation, Hindu couples are dependent on circumstantial evidence such as wedding photographs, the whims of the particular official they are dealing with, or lawyers’ affidavits, if they are able to procure these.
But more than an administrative inconvenience, this state of affairs runs counter to the constitution’s guarantee of equality for all citizens. Given the recent murders of two major public figures fighting for minority rights, now would be a good time to pass a law regarding Hindu marriage registration to reinforce that Pakistan’s minorities have the same rights as its Muslim population. Nor should it be a particularly controversial law for politicians to back; it is simply inertia, it seems, that has resulted in the long delay despite court cases, protests as well as a Supreme Court notice asking the government to look into the matter. Marriage is one of the most basic buildings blocks of our society and a common human aspiration. Denying its formal recognition to a specific portion of the population cannot be classified as anything other than discrimination.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/03/hindu-marriages.html

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