Pakistan is home to 3.4 million Scheduled Caste Hindus also known as Dalits; a minority of 0.25% in a nation of mainly Muslim population.
The representatives of Hindus believe that due to discrimination against them and state’s denial of their rights, their census population is tampered and shown as less than actual. This further marginalizes them and excludes them from social and political spheres.
For Hindu families, lack of marriage registration mechanism is a matter of serious concern. Lack of NIC and marriage registration has resulted in many domestic, social and psychological problems for the Hindu families, especially women and girls. Hindu married couples face numerous problems in travelling and lodging outside of their place of residence. Due to an absence of NIC and marriage registration mechanism, scheduled caste Hindu women do not get any share in their husbands’ property, and their access to health facilities and participation in social, economic and political processes is also minimal. According to them, for years Hindu women (already married to Hindu men and having children) have been abducted or forcibly converted to Islam and re-married to Muslim men without their consent. Since there is no documentation to prove the earlier marriage, their husbands or other family members are unable to take up the issue on legal grounds.
29 July 2008: SCRM (the Network HRF) started lobbying and advocating for legislation for Hindu marriage registration. Several consultations, seminars press conferences and rallies were arranged to sensitize media and civil society on the issue.
Oct 2008: A case was filed in the high court to press for the need for such legislation. In addition, legislators at the provincial and national level, Ministry of Human Rights and Ministry of Minority Affairs were contacted and convinced to take the issue forward.
15 Dec 2008: Hare Rama Foundation Pakistan team drafted a Pakistani Hindu Marriages Registration Bill 2009, in consultation with Hindu Religious scholars and Hindu community. Hindu marriage Registration Laws & Rules of India were also referred to. The draft bill was submitted to the Ministry of Minority Affairs & Ministry of Human Rights in order to push them to start the legislation process.
23rd November 2009: When the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) rejected a Hindu woman’s request for a marriage certificate on grounds that ‘no such mechanism or legislation was in place’, SCRM highlighted this issue through various advocacy efforts. On 23rd November 2009, the Chief Justice of Pakistan took Suo Moto action on this burning issue and directed the Government to legislate on the issue of Hindu marriage registration.
In order to demand action on Supreme Court’s order, and to build civil society’s pressure on the government to start the legislation process to address this long standing problem, SCRM, with an active support of ActionAid Pakistan, has launched a strong campaign in 2011 which involves press conferences, rallies, post card campaign, lobbying meetings and other advocacy tools to push for quick action.
After all our effort we are able to highlight this issue at national level. In this campaign we are able to attract government officials and local leaders to support us on this desiring need of Hindus in Pakistan. On October 2011 this bill was presented at National Assembly. After the submission of bill, it was forward to Ministry of Human Rights here a thorough discussion was made. After some recommendation this bill was forward to Law Committee (NCSW) for finalizing the Draft Bill. Our team members were participated in Law committee Meeting and give their valuable inputs in finalizing the Draft.
In 2016 Provincial Assembly of Sindh passed the Hindu Marriage Bill and Provincial of Punjab and KPK passed the resolution on Hindu Marriage Bill, The National Assembly also passed the Hindu Marriage Bill in September 2016. We hope that soon the Hindu Marriage Bill become a law for Pakistani Hindus.