BANGLADESH: Rally protests new Hindu marriage law

Here is a case of a people fighting a proposed law that will address the discrimination against women.  For the protesters, to protect tradition is more important than to protect the women.  What an irony! It is to this absurd rigorism to tradition that made Jesus declare that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  (Mark 2:27).   


Traditionalist Hindus rallied in Dhaka on Friday to condemn a government proposal to reform age-old Hindu family laws.  The Hindu Marriage Registration Bill 2012 would make Hindu marriage registration mandatory and establish inheritance, divorce and maintenance rights for Hindu women.

“For over 5,000 years, Hindus have got married by the traditional system that requires no registration. We have no provision for divorce or polygamy,” said Supreme Court lawyer Ashok Kumar Ghosh on behalf of the protesters.

“This move is propelled by NGOs who are foreign-funded,” said Dr. Tapan Bagchi, deputy director of BanglaAcademy, a state-run cultural institute. “For thousands of years Hindus have followed the traditional customs for marriage and inheritance. Problems can be solved within the family. No law is needed.”

The bill was presented to parliament in July and is expected to be passed before the end of the year. Its contentious features include an amendment that would make polygamy, which is reportedly increasing among Hindu males, a punishable offense.

While conservatives oppose it, many Hindu women and rights activists have welcomed the proposed law.   Ayesha Khanam, president of the leading women’s rights group Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, said that Hindu women in Bangladesh should be entitled to the same rights as they are inIndia andNepal.

“We have seen how Hindu women are abused, tortured and deprived,” she said. “Muslim and Christian women get a share of their fathers’ and husbands’ property, Hindu women get nothing. The new law must be passed to bring an end to discrimination.”

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