New Delhi: A Muslim women’s group on Tuesday came out in support of women’s entry into the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra, charging “male-dominated bodies” which run shrines with bias.
The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan said it supports demands by Hindu women to be allowed to enter the chabutra or sanctum sanctorum at the well-known temple in Ahmednagar.
We salute the women activists for their democratic protest and assertion of their right to worship in the face of all odds placed by the patriarchal male temple administration,
Andolan co-founders Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Safia Niaz said they were shocked at the imposition of Section 144 by the district administration to bar the women from proceeding peacefully to the temple.
We condemn the discriminative arrangement at the temple and urge the temple trustees to correct their stand in line with the principles of gender justice enshrined in the constitution.
Condemning the police action, the group urged the Maharashtra government to “immediately take steps to correct this continued denial of justice to women devotees at the temple”.
The group said religious trusts presiding over temples, dargahs and churches must come clean and make amends to the patriarchal practices that have kept women out of places of worship.
God or deities or pirs are not private properties of any individuals or trusts.
“Religions of the world – Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism – do not discriminate between the genders.” the group added.
The temple and dargah trusts do not have the authority either from religious or legal sources to discriminate against anyone.
“We call upon the male-dominated trusts and bodies to correct their stance urgently, failing which more and more women are bound to protest and demand their right to worship,” the group said.
Sep 21, 2017 (IANS): On August 22, the Supreme Court ruled that triple talaq — the practice which allows a man to divorce his wife instantly by saying the word talaq thrice — is unconstitutional. Predictably, the ruling was denounced by a number of Muslim leaders and organisations. Some interpreted it as an attack on their religion and way of life. Others saw a conspiracy angle in the importance given to an issue.
This perspective is desperate and distorted. This perspective is not only wrong but also wrong-headed, misplaced and misguided.
I applaud this judgement because I strongly believe that Muslim instant divorce is illegal and incorrect in many ways. Instant divorce is deplorable, disgraceful and shameful. In addition, it is demeaning, demonising, disheartening and demoralising to Indian Muslim women.
Most importantly, as one of the judges pointed out, triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Quran. Recognising this, many Islamic countries, including two of India’s large Muslim neighbours — Pakistan and Bangladesh — have abolished the practice.
In addition, it is unconscionable to think that a man should be allowed to banish a woman to whom he is married — who is also the mother of his child or children, in many cases — by uttering a word three times, with no consequences. Triple talaq is also inherently discriminatory in that only a man has that “right” — a Muslim woman cannot end the marriage in a similar way.
Over the years, some Muslim organisations have rationalised triple talaq by arguing that divorce rates within their community are quite low compared to other religious groups. It affects less than a third of a per cent of Muslim women, they argue. This is neither a sound legal nor moral argument. Even if one concedes that instant divorce affects only a minuscule population, injustice should never have legal sanction, regardless of how many people are affected.
The triple talaq ruling, the result of a decades-long campaign by women’s rights groups, was a historic verdict. With the stroke of a pen, the judges made illegal a practice that over the decades has ruined the lives of countless Indian Muslim women.
In the absence of a comprehensive study among Indian Muslim women, it is not known how many of them have been divorced in this manner. A 2013 survey of Muslim women in 10 Indian states by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, an advocacy group that fights for the rights of Indian Muslims, found that triple talaq was the most common mode of divorce among those surveyed.
Of the 4,710 women sampled in the survey, 525 were divorcees. Of them, 404 were victims of triple talaq. More than 80 per cent of them did not receive any compensation at the time of divorce.
Two of the five judges that delivered the triple talaq judgment differed on the constitutionality of practice. The bench was in unanimous agreement, however, in asking the government to enact within six months legislation to govern Muslim marriages and divorces.
India’s justice system has numerous drawbacks. It often takes decades for courts to deliver justice. In this instance, the Supreme Court should be applauded for delivering a correct judgment in a timely manner.
The ball is now in the government’s court. It is up to people’s representatives to come up with policies that will change the lives of Muslim women for the better.
Equitable legislation on Muslim marriages and divorces should be just the starting point. The central and state governments must craft policies that empower women belonging to all castes, creeds and religions. Such policies should focus on educating women, developing their skills and making them part of the work force. Empowerment of this type will allow them to pursue and create their own destiny. It will lead to financial independence. In addition, it will promote the security and stability of women and will build their self-esteem and confidence.
India’s Muslim community should embrace the Supreme Court verdict. They should join together to say: End triple talaq. End triple talaq. End triple talaq. They should leverage the verdict as an opportunity to advocate for and bring about much-needed reforms related to women’s rights. (IANS)