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HRW Slams Myanmar’s Proposed Interfaith Marriage Ban

26th March 2014

HRW (Human Rights Watch), a New York-based Human Rights Watchdog, on Tuesday said Myanmar should remove proposed ban on interfaith marriages warning that the “blatant discrimination” dangers religious freedom and women’s rights.

According to HRW, under the law being considered by parliament, Christians, Muslims and men of other minority religions could face up a decade-long imprisonment for marrying Buddhist women.

President Thein Sein, an ex-dictator and former general, asked parliament last month to pass on the proposed marriage ban to fullfil demands made by an extremist Monk. The president, in a letter to law makers, said “the proposed legislation was to give ‘protection’ to Buddhists marrying people of other religions.”

HRW Asia director Brad Adams said “”it is shocking that Burma is considering enshrining blatant discrimination at the heart of Burmese family law.”

“This law would strip away from women their right to freely decide whom to marry, and would mark a major reversal for religious freedom and women’s rights in Burma,” he said in a statement. And according to HRW, the proposed legislation would allow Buddhist women marry only Buddhist men. Besides, if the parliament passes on the legislation, a man will require to seek permission in writing from a Buddhist bride’s parents before the marriage and hence “seriously jeopardising women’s autonomous decision making”.

It is said that 89% of Myanmar population are Buddhists and Christians and Muslims make 4% of the population each although experts believe that the actual population percentage of the latter two minorities could be higher.

“In ethnically and culturally diverse Burma, government leaders are playing with fire by even considering proposals that would further divide the country by restricting marriage on religious lines,” Adams added.

“A violation of women’s rights and human rights” condenmed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi

The country has been stricken by (highly possibly state-backed) violence targeting especially Muslims since 2012. Thousands of Muslims have been killed andleft more than 140,000 Rohingya Muslims internally displaced.

Myanmar has earlier faced stern criticism for imposing “two-child policy” against only Rohingyas Muslims, one of the world’s most persecuted minorities according to United Nations.

(Source Referred: Agence France-Presse, AFP)