Scheduled Caste Rights Movement (SCRM) in collaboration with ActionAid held a protest demonstration here in front of the parliament. Initially almost 200 people including Hindu community from different regions of Pakistan and civil rights activists held a mock marriage ceremony in front of National Press Club to mark ineffectiveness of a marriage when it is not registered with the government.
Scheduled Caste women, while speaking on the occasion, said that absence of marriage registration law entailed multiple social issues for them including those of abduction, forced conversion and deprivation to benefit from any government scheme. Shakuntala Devi,a participant from Multan said, ‘It has now been more than four years that we have been waging struggle for our rights. In 2011, a bill was presented in National Assembly for legislation of a law to register Hindu marriage but so far there has been no reported progress. Hindu women are being constantly victimized as, in absence of a marriage law, they remain deprived of basic social, political and economic rights’.
Reema Mai from Rahim Yar Khan said, ‘Since last 60 years, Hindu women are being discriminated against. Hindu girls and even married women are abducted and later re-married to non-Hindus and it all goes unnoticed because there is no law to protect us. We feel very insecure and our family elders take pre-emptive measures by marrying us at very early age. We cannot move freely as there is always a fear of being abducted. If we have to get our National Identity Card, it becomes the most challenging task for us. We have to bribe the concerned staff for getting NIC and similarly we cannot stay in a hotel because of our inability to produce marriage registration certificate’.
SCRM president, Guru Sukh Dev said that four years back in 2008, Scheduled Caste Hindus realized that they needed to have a collective platform for pitching their demands. SCRM is now a social movement with many successes in its credit, however still we are facing many challenges to make our voices heard. SCRM lobbied with many parliamentarians from different parties and introduced a marriage registration bill in the parliament which is 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 our sufferings and insecurities.