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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

– 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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Uber Launches Campaign for Women and Youth in India

New Uber initiatives to empower women, youth in India

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Uber India
A campaign by Uber will empower youth and women in India. Wikimedia Commons

In a bid to make daily commute safer for women in India, ride hailing giant Uber on Friday launched a new campaign for Uber Auto, which also aims to empower riders with seamless shared mobility solutions.

The company also launched an Uber Moto campaign for youth with convenient doorstep pickup to help them save time from arduous commute and use that time to up-skill themselves.

“At Uber, we’re committed to simplifying the lives of our riders by addressing their everyday challenges through multi-modal mobility solutions,” Manisha Lath Gupta-Marketing Director, Uber India and South Asia, told IANS.

“We believe that our youth have immense potential, however, lack of safe and reliable commuting options often limits their aspirations. In a small yet meaningful way, we are delighted to support the aspirations of millions of men and women to move forward,” Gupta added.

Uber India campaign
The Uber Auto campaign in India is titled as “Badey Iradon Ki Chhoti Sawaari,”. Pixabay

Targeted primarily at women commuters, the cab hailing giant’s Auto campaign, titled “Badey Iradon Ki Chhoti Sawaari,” aims to provide women safe, reliable yet affordable travel options, thus, enabling them to fulfil their aspirations.

Instead of being dependent on friends and family for picking and dropping them, or standing on roads waiting to find a reliable mode of transport, Uber Auto allows women to step out whenever they need to.

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The company’s Moto campaign, titled “Sapno Par Hoja Sawaar” aims to inspire the young working professionals whose aspirations get dampened because they spend long hours commuting and have to change multiple modes of transport to find the most economical option.

Both the campaigns would be seen across digital, print and out-of-home advertising (OOH) platforms, said Uber. (IANS)