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After 16-month Struggle, Hindu Marriage Bill gets tabled in Pakistan’s National Assembly

The bill was approved by the standing committee on February 8 and has received support from the Hindu community and liberals

Hindu Marriage. Image source: Wikimedia
Islamabad, August 18, 2016: After the 16-month struggle, the much-debated Hindu Marriage Bill has been tabled in Pakistan’s National Assembly. Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Ramesh Lal, one of the bill’s movers, said on Wednesday that it took around 10 months for a house panel to clear the bill and another six months for its report to be tabled in the house.

“The delay was possibly because of extraordinary debates and discussion around the bill, but at least now the government should consider tabling it in the house in the next session,” Dawn online quoted Lal as saying.

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The bill was approved by the standing committee on February 8 and has received support from the Hindu community and liberals.

Map of Balochistan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Map of Balochistan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

However, some of the more religious members of the Hindu community have expressed strong reservations regarding the bill’s contents including allowing separated individuals to remarry, and also states that a Hindu widow is entitled to remarry and shall have the right to do so, of her own will and consent, after a period of six months since the death of her husband.

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It is expected that the cases of abduction of married Hindu women will stop once this bill is enacted, Dawn online reported.
The law would give the Hindu community proof of marriage in the form of a ‘shadiparat’, which is similar to a Muslim ‘nikahnama’.

Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have consented to the federal government formulating a Hindu marriage law that they would then adopt, while Sindh had formulated its own Hindu marriage registration law.

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Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

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According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS