In a press conference held in Islamabad in March 2011, SCRM, in collaboration with ActionAid Pakistan urged the government to give equal status and protect the rights of scheduled caste Hindus, particularly their right to marriage registration.
They warned the government that if effective legislative measures are not taken “on priority”; scheduled caste Hindu women and men will stage nationwide protests and sit-ins to bring attention to their demands. They also resolved to put up a demonstration in front of the Parliament. On the occasion, they also initiated a signature campaign to involve concerned citizens and larger civil society in their “ fight for rights”.
Speaking at the occasion, Hindu minority women hailing from different parts of the country regretted the government’s failure to address violations of Hindu women’s rights.
“Due to an absence of marriage registration certificate, we are not entitled to obtain national identity cards; hence we are denied the right to vote as well. Despite having Supreme Court’s Suo Moto ruling of 23rd November 2010 in our favour, no concrete steps have been taken to solve this long standing issue.”
Shami Mai, a poor woman from Rahim Yar Khan said, ‘In case of separation or domestic violence, a Hindu woman cannot register complaint in government departments because of lack of any legal document to prove that the perpetrator was her husband.’
Hindu families also face a number of problems while travelling from one place to another. ‘If we have to travel or stay in any hotel, policemen and hotel administration mistreat us. They become suspicious of our relationship to each other. If the government passes a law for our registration, we can easily defend our self respect by showing the documentary evidence of our marriage. In most cases, we end up spending nights at railway stations or on foot paths’, said Naina Bai.
Aita Vadhani said that Hindu women faced more problems than women belonging to other minority groups. ‘In case a Hindu married girl is abducted or forced to remarry, we are unable to fight this injustice on legal grounds for lack of a proof of her earlier marriage.”
Shakantala Devi said that absence of marriage registration law had deprived Hindu women of their right to property and other entitlements. She urged for early passage of legislation to ensure Hindu marriage registration.