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New Trend: Muslim women in India defy tradition -and men – to be judges

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) is training its first intake of 30 women in Koranic law, constitutional law and gender rights

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Muslim women in India. Image source: www.youtube.com
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– by Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Barring the stereotype, an Indian Muslim women’s rights organisation is training women to be qazis, or judges, a role traditionally reserved for men, amid growing demand for more representation for women.

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) is training its first intake of 30 women in Koranic law, constitutional law and gender rights. This will be a year-long program that aims to produce a steady stream of female qazis across India, its co-founder said.

The Indian constitution allows Muslims, the country’s biggest religious minority, to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code.

The qazi, usually a hereditary title, plays an important role by solemnising marriage and finalising divorce and settlements.

“Traditionally, qazis have all been men, and their judgment has never been questioned, even if many are unfair to women,” said Zakia Soman, a co-founder of BMMA in Mumbai.

“But it’s important to have women hear and represent women who are in a vulnerable position. Besides, there is no bar on women qazis as per the Koran,” she said.

Dr Hina Zaheer Naqvi, first woman qazi in Uttar Pradesh. Image source: www.india.com
Dr Hina Zaheer Naqvi, first woman qazi in Uttar Pradesh. Image source: www.india.com

The move comes at a time of growing dissent against laws that activists say discriminate against Muslim women. A survey by BMMA last year showed more than 90 percent of Muslim women want to end the “triple talaq” divorce tradition and polygamy.

Last month, the Supreme Court said it would examine how far it could interfere in Muslim laws, as it heard a plea- to end the practice allowing Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying “talaq” three times.

Muslims make up 13 percent of India’s 1.2 billion population, yet government data show they are among some of the most excluded and marginalised communities.

The women being trained to be qazis are largely community workers and activists from states including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, Soman said.

There are some female qazis in Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia.

Women qazis in India can help prevent child marriage, ensure that a woman marries willingly and that a divorce is only granted after a period of reconciliation, and with fair terms for the woman, Soman said.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a non-governmental institution that oversees the application of Muslim personal law in the country, has criticised the female qazis.

“Women don’t have the right to be a qazi,” said Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali, secretary of AIMPLB.

“Besides, there is no need – there are enough men who are qazis. So it’s completely unnecessary,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But female trainee Safia Akhtar said there was a need for women qazis.

“There are many grave injustices against Muslim women, and we deserve a say in matters that concern us,” said Akhtar in the city of Bhopal. “If women can be prime ministers and pilots in this country, then why can’t we also be

“If women can be prime ministers and pilots in this country, then why can’t we also be qazis?” (Reuters)

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President Ram Nath Kovind Pays His Condolences to Former UN Chief Kofi Annan

Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the UN in 2001 "for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world".

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India condoles former UN chief Kofi Annan's death.
India condoles former UN chief Kofi Annan's death. Flickr

India on Saturday condoled the death of former UN Secretary General and Nobel laureate Kofi Annan with President Ram Nath Kovind expressing his condolences to the former Ghanaian diplomat’s family and the UN community as a whole.

“Sorry to learn of the passing of former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan,” Kovind said on the Rashtrapati Bhavan Twitter handle.

“My condolences to his family and to the UN community,” he stated.

Annan, 80, died on Saturday in Switzerland after a short illness, with his wife and three children by his side.

“It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that the former Secretary General of the UN and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness,” his family said.

Kofi Annan
Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006. Flickr

Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006. He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

He also led a UN commission to investigate the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar.

The Myanmar government led by Aung San Suu Kyi supported Annan’s recommendations on the crisis in the country’s Rakhine State.

Also Read: New AI Model to Identify the Risk of Heart Disease in Indians

Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the UN in 2001 “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”.

His tenure as the UN chief coincided with the Iraq war and the HIV/Aids pandemic. (IANS)