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Bangladesh's Hindu women fight for divorce rights


Unlike her Muslim compatriots, Tarulata Rani is unable to inherit anything from her family, cannot divorce and cannot claim maintenance from her absent husband -- all because she is a Bangladeshi Hindu.

Unlike Bangladeshi Muslims or Hindus in neighbouring India and Nepal, Bangladeshi Hindu women can't divorce as the legal provisions do not exist and their marriages have not been allowed to be officially registered.

"Is it a crime to be born a Hindu girl?" Rani, 22, who was married two years ago, told AFP.

"I can't inherit any property. I can't divorce my husband and remarry even though he left me for another woman and beat me all the time."

Last month Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved a new law that will introduce official marriage registration for Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh in a move designed to protect the rights of women like Rani.

The legislation, expected to be passed shortly in parliament, has been welcomed by civil rights activists and many Hindu women.

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