Discrimination of Hindu women in Bangladesh

Tabassum Islam Mim

Hinduism is the second largest religious affiliation in Peoples’s Republic of Bangladesh ,according to the official 2022 census of Bangladesh. There are so many grounds where Hindu womens are discriminated because, in Bangladesh there is no proper law for Hindu  women. What is Hindu  law? Generally, the Hindu  law is the personal law of Hindu people and the law is applicable in the matter of marriage, maintenance, adoption, guardianship, custody, gift and will, inheritance etc. And the Hindu community of Bangladesh is mainly governed by the Dayabhaga School of Law Hindu marriage and its discriminatory aspect in Bangladesh Hindu marriage- the nature of Hindu marriage is primarily a sacrament or religious duty. In Bangladesh there is no scope for registration of marriage, the registration of Hindu marriage is not compulsory whereas the registration is mandatory for Muslim marriage. But their legislation has been passed by the parliament of Bangladesh to provide the option to register Hindu  marriage-The Hindu  Marriage Registration Act-2012. However,registration of Hindu marriage is not compulsory in Bangladesh registration of Hindu  marriage is voluntary in nature, so many Hindu  people may not register their marriage. It has been observed that Hindu women are facing challenges in proving their marriage. The Hindu  marriage registration should be mandatory for all Hindu  people. Hindu females are not allowed to marry more than one in their life in Bangladesh but Hindu males are allowed to marry as many as they wish. Unlimited polygamy is permitted under Hindu law but polyandry is totally prohibited. Remarriage of Hindu  widow- Under the classical Hindu law remarriage of a Hindu widow is prohibited. A Hindu widow sacrifices her life if her husband dies. In the Indian sub-continent, this practice is known as Sati. There were some social movements against this practice led by Raja Ram Mohon Roy. The practice was abolished by the adoption of The Sati Regularation act 1829. The “Sati Practice” seriously hampered the happy and normal life of the Hindu widows. Also, a Hindu widow will absolutely lose the right of inheritance, and maintenance from her deceased husband for the reason of remarriage and she will lose the right of guardianship of the children of her deceased husband. A Hindu widow has no right to her deceased husband’s property after her remarriage. Maintenance- A Hindu male has a personal obligation to maintain his wife, children, and aged parents. This obligation does not depend on the possession of the property. On some specific grounds a wife can live separately and she can be asked for maintenance if her husband is suffering from any loathsome disease, reason of cruelty, if her husband marries again if he changes his religion or reason by any justifiable cause, etc. there is a legal provision of The Hindu  Married Women’s right to separate and maintenance act-1946 provides the Hindu wife live separately and get maintenance from her husband. As I have already mentioned that Hindu  marriage registration is voluntary, not mandatory in Bangladesh. A husband easily denied to give maintenance and a Hindu  wife does not prove their marriage because she has not any legal documents. Adoption- in Bangladesh adoption is only approved in Hindu  law, the adoption laws followed in Bangladesh are discriminatory, adoption is legal process of a son or daughter from one family to another family. A Hindu  family adopted a son for religious purposes. Hindu  people must have a son to perform the “Sradha Ceremony” and also to carry the family line. In the Hindu religion, the son is very much important for religious and secular purposes. A husband can adopt a son without the consent of the wife but the wife can not adopt a son during the lifetime of her husband or after his death except if her husband gives the authority or give the consent to adopt. However. if a wife adopts a son she must take the consent. Inheritance- Only five women can inherit property under the Dayabhaga School of Law and those five women are widow, daughter, mother, father’s mother, and father’s father’s mother. There are several restrictions placed on their absolute right to inherit any property that is theirs. The widow’s claim to her husband’s widow’s estate or the possessions she acquired after his death, is restricted to the amount of receiving in interest from the estate. Unless there is a legal requirement she lacks the power to alienate such property. In the case of Nurunnabi vs Joynal Abedin 1977, the court stated widow’s claim to her husband’s property is subject to certain limits. On the other hand Hindu daughters are entirely deprived of this she has no right to inherit any property from their father instead the son is the only one who has the right.

The writer is a student from East-West University, Department of Law, Spring-2022.

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