Married Hindu girl forcibly remarried by jirga in Pakistan
Islamabad, June 17 (IANS) A married young Hindu woman was forcibly married to a 56-year-old Hindu man in Pakistan’s Tharparkar district on the orders of a jirga — an elders body.
Wadia Bai Meghwar and her cousin Suresh had contracted a marriage of their free will in a Karachi court on May 4, 2016.
However, a few days later, a notable from Thar’s Arbab family took Wadia from her home, promising to marry the couple in a traditional wedding.
“But instead of handing her to me, her brother, Gayanchand Meghwar, married her off to an old man,” said Suresh, who identified the other man as Chetan Meghwar and estimated to be 56 years old.
Inspector General (IG) Sindh A.D. Khawaja, taking notice of the incident, ordered an inquiry and recovery of the woman, reported Dawn.
“The girl’s brother and other relatives have been arrested in a raid on Friday, and an investigation into the matter is underway,” said DSP Mithi Bilawal Haq Mehar.
He added that senior police officials have ordered the young woman be recovered and produced in court as soon as possible.
Local activists called for a thorough inquiry into the Jirga and the Hindu woman’s forced remarriage, demanding severe action against all those involved under the recently-enacted Hindu Marriage Act and other laws to save the young girl.
Pakistan has become the first Muslim country to give Hindus the right to register their marriage officially.
The bill was passed in February by the assembly in Sindh – home to most of Pakistan’s three million Hindus.
Activists say that without such a law, Hindu women were targets of forced conversions, abduction and rape, and widows lacked rights.
The National Assembly is considering a wider law recognising Hindu marriages.
Pakistan’s other main religious minority, Christians, have a colonial-era law recognising their marriages. However, Hindus have never had any legal framework to register their unions until now.