March 07, 2016

India: Muslim women demand equal rights (two reports feb-march 2016)

[News reports follow ]

The Hindu, NEW DELHI, March 7, 2016

More Muslim women join cause with SC’s PIL for gender parity

Legal Correspondent

An initiative by the Supreme Court to probe gender discrimination in Islamic personal law has opened the door for Muslim women hailing from various parts of the country to come forward against their own religious practices of marriage, divorce and property inheritance.

Latest in the trickle of petitions being filed in the Supreme Court is one by the Kerala-based organisation, NISA - Progressive Muslim Women Forum, through its representative V.P. Zuhara. This organisation in Kozhikode district works for the civil and matrimonial rights of women

“Women who practice Muslim faith are still subjected to grave social evils that find sanction in the Shariat law and as a consequence, proliferates discrimination against the Muslim women in society,” it said.

In its plea, the organisation, represented by advocates Sriram Parakkat and Govind Manoharan, said the community was stuck in time since the passage of Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act by the British in 1937. Progressive laws like the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, have not been able to wean the community away from discrimination shown to Muslim women.

The organisation rebuts the claim that a court cannot adjudicate on Muslim personal laws. The plea contends that courts can adjudicate under Article 13 if the Shariat law is found to be “inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights” of Muslim women.

This plea immediately follows the Supreme Court’s admission of an earlier petition filed by Shayara Bano to declare the practice of triple talaq, nikah halala (bar against remarriage with divorced husband without an intervening marriage with another man) and polygamy under Muslim personal laws as illegal, unconstitutional, and violative of the rights to equality, dignity, life and freedom of religion under the Constitution.

Ms. Bano had said she only wished to “secure a life of dignity, unmarred by discrimination on the basis of gender or religion.

On October 16, last year, the Supreme Court decided to register a PIL suo motu titled “Muslim women’s quest for equality” on gender discrimination women face under Muslim personal law.

The suo motu PIL and Ms. Bano’s petition are scheduled for hearing on March 28.

Response from across the country on practices of marriage, divorce and inheritance

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Daily News and Analysis

Muslim women demand rights as granted by the Constitution
Representational image
dna Correspondent | Sun, 28 Feb 2016-11:29pm , New Delhi , dna

Around 400 Muslim women from over 14 states across the country have come together to demand for several rights enshrines to them.

While the whole country’s imagination has been captured by incidents in universities, and within the Parliament, quietly, without much hullabaloo, an unusual gathering has been taking place in a quiet corner in the capital: that of Muslim women demanding the rights as granted to them by the Constitution.

Around 400 Muslim women from over 14 states across the country have come together to demand for several rights enshrined in the Constitution to them, but have been systematically denied. The gathering, which included a national convention on Saturday, and a protest in Jantar Mantar on Sunday, had the participation of several organisations. The collective urged the women to work to strengthen and support Muslim women's leadership and bring more women into the political space for a collective struggle. The convention also called for women to stand together against communal violence and patriarchal forces that attempt to undermine women's solidarity.

These organisations, which came under the umbrella of the the Bebaak Collective, included social rights bodies like the Sanatkada Sadbhavna Trust (Lucknow), the Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiative (Lucknow) Vanangana (Bandha), Pragati Madhyam Samiti (Chitrakoot), Pehchaan (Dehradun), Muhim (Farukabad), Aastitva (Saharanpur), Parvaaz (Ahmedabad), Sahiyar (Vadodara), Muslim Mahila Manch (Nagpur) and the Aawaz-E-Niswaan (Mumbai).

Speakers at the national convention included Justice Rajinder Sachar, advocate Vrinda Grover, Prof Zoya Hasan and Dr Syeda Hameed. They emphasised on the need to unite against the systematic attack on the women. Justice Sachar, who headed the Sachar Committee, stressed on the fact that the findings of the Sachar Committee report is yet to find any value, and its recommendations any implementation.

Dr Syeda Hameed called for Muslim women to claim their right to define their own identity, their own beliefs and their own agenda. Historian Uma Chakravarti reflected and wondered if women were provided with social security by the state, women like Shah Bano would not have to fight against their own communities to claim miserable scraps as “benefits”.

Hasina Khan of the Bebaak Collective said that Muslim communities have always witnessed issues like communal riots, beef ban, hate speeches targeting them. There have also been covert and systemic forms of violence through the rhetoric of love jihad and ghar wapsi. These instances, along with many other quotidian forms of discrimination and violence against Muslims and other marginalised communities, have fostered an atmosphere of intolerance and fear in the country.

“Education, employment and mobility of Muslim women are major casualties under such circumstances. It is thus obvious that the current situation in our country deserves immediate attention and much needed deliberation relating to lived realities of Muslim women,” said Khan.

Reshma, who works with Sahiyar, said that their demands are simple. “We have three demands, we look for social security, right to citizenship and equality under the law, and the implementation of the Sachar Committee in all the states. Muslim people in slums in Gujarat are routinely targeted. It may not be as bad as 2002, but shops are routinely burned, or houses are destroyed. Muslim areas are never cleaned by the state authorities. In case a woman has a domestic problem, police routinely refuse to file an FIR,” said Reshma.