Minorities' rights: Schedule caste Hindu women demand civil rights -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Minorities’ rights: Schedule caste Hindu women demand civil rights

Hindu community lacked a sense of identity due to the absence of proper documentation of their marital status.

ISLAMABAD: For several years, Hindu women have been forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men even though they are already married to Hindus. Since there is no evidence to prove their marital status, they are unable to take a legal stand on their issue.

This was stated by schedule caste Hindu women during a press conference on Thursday.

Shakuntla Devi told The Express Tribune that a press conference was also held two months ago and they have sent thousands of letters to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for this purpose, but they haven’t received any positive response from the government yet.

She also criticised the eight MNAs from Hindu Community for not taking any initiative and not raising their issues in the parliament.

Anita Wadhani, an O-Level student from Mirpur Khas, also said the Hindu community lacked a sense of identity due to the absence of proper documentation of their marital status.

“The Supreme Court has ordered the issuance of CNIC for the Hindu community, but the relevant authorities are not cooperating with us,” she said, adding that Hindus were often stopped and humiliated by the police while travelling due to absence of documentary evidence of their marriages.

Naina Ji said a number of women were forcibly being converted to Islam, while there was no mechanism to protect them in case of divorce or their husband’s death.

Similarly, Pooja Devi narrated the story of her cousin who was kicked out of the house by her in-laws after her husband’s death, and could not gain her children’s custody due to absence of legal evidence on her marital status.

The absence of marriage registration process is a matter of serious concern for Hindu families, as it has resulted in several domestic, social and psychological problems, especially among women. The married couples often face numerous problems while travelling.

Also, due to the absence of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC), Hindu women do not get any share in their husband’s property, while their access to health facilities and participation in social, economic and political processes also remains minimal.

Pakistan is home to 3.4 million schedule caste Hindus, also known as Dalits, a minority of 0.25 per cent in a nation of mainly Muslims.

According to the 1998 census, upper caste Hindus are just over 2.1 million, though these figures are contested by representatives of the schedule caste Hindus.

Source: The Express Tribune

Date:6/24/2011