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Quebec in Canada Considers Ban on Face Veils in Public Sector, in a move criticised as Marginalising Muslim Women

The proposed law prohibits anyone giving or receiving government services, such as a provincial government-issued health card, from wearing face-covering garments

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FILE - A demonstrator adds a Quebec flag to her veil during a protest against Quebec's proposed Charter of Values in Montreal, Sept. 14, 2013. Thousands took to the streets to denounce the province's proposed bill to ban the wearing of any overt religious clothing by government-paid employees or people seeking government services.VOA

Montreal, October 20, 2016: Quebec is moving ahead with a law to ban face coverings in the public sector in a move criticised as marginalising Muslim women and potentially inflaming anti-immigrant tensions in the mainly French-speaking Canadian province.

The proposed law prohibits anyone giving or receiving government services, such as a provincial government-issued health card, from wearing face-covering garments. As an example, it would prevent a woman from donning the face-concealing burqa while trying to get a Quebec driver’s license and prohibit a civil servant from covering her face.

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The Quebec government is holding hearings before a vote on the legislation, which is likely to pass because of the centrist Liberal party’s majority in the legislature.

Quebec says the law is aimed at ensuring the religious neutrality of the state. Critics say a law is not required and only affects a small number of Muslim women who wear burqas or niqabs.

“It’s an unnecessary exercise,” said Amira Elghawaby, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, adding it could “isolate and victimise women who wear the face veil.”

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Like France, Quebec has struggled at times to reconcile its secular identity with a rising Muslim population, many of them North African immigrants. The face covering, or niqab, became a big issue in last year’s national Canadian elections, especially in Quebec, where the vast majority of the population supported a ban on them at citizenship ceremonies.

France in 2004 passed a hotly contested ban on veils, crosses and other religious symbols in schools, which appeared to be a model for Quebec’s “Charter of Values” that the previous provincial government tried to introduce in 2013.

Quebec’s justice minister has said the law is not an attack on Muslim women and “respects individual choices.”

“Our approach in this file would be balanced and respectful of greater principles such as gender equality and the recognition of rights and fundamental freedoms,” said Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee.

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The latest legislation, Bill 62, is a watered-down version of that charter, and opposition lawmakers say it does not go far enough.

Parti Quebecois legislator Agnes Maltais said Bill 62 fails to include services provided by municipalities, a key point of contact between civil servants and the public. Maltais said the law should be amended to prevent all state workers in positions of authority such as judges and prison guards from wearing religious symbols. (VOA)

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Triple Talaq verdict is a small victory. But there are more battles to be won

Are the divorced Indian women getting their due?

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Triple Talaq was a harmful practice faced by Muslim women
Triple Talaq was a harmful practice faced by Muslim women. Pixabay
  • Women are asked to compromise for the sake of family honor, children, not being financially independent and many such reasons
  • It’s a tough decision for Indian women to file for a divorce even if their marriages have been exploitative, oppressive or unhappy
  • The problems are most dreadful for women whose marriages have not been formally ended

 New Delhi, September 3, 2017: Supreme Court’s verdict on Triple Talaq case is like a ray of sunshine. The verdict has been welcomed, applauded and celebrated all across India by the people who advocate for women’s rights. Judgement on Triple Talaq has been possible because of courage shown by strong Muslim women to change the course of their lives and a long struggle of groups such as the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan who did not put their foot down in spite of having to face pressure, threats from the Muslim community and outside of it.

Reactions women in country face when they consider getting a divorce

There are many other societies where higher rates of divorce are often equated with an expression of choice that women possess and the liberation of women. But, sadly this is not the case with India as divorce evokes dark, shameful reactions, taunts, rage, and pity from the society, often a woman is blamed for it. It is not considered as a suitable option for women suffering from unhappy marriages, they are asked to work it out, to solve the differences even if there’s no easy solution to it. They are asked to compromise for the sake of family honor, children, not being financially independent and many such reasons.

Why do Indian women hesitate from taking a Divorce?

It’s a tough decision for Indian women to file for a divorce even if their marriages have been exploitative, oppressive or unhappy. One reason for this could be the low status of women or not enough respect and value given to them in the society, especially rural India. Another reason is that the women who have low income don’t spend their independent share on themselves out of guilt, they utilize most it in taking care of their homes and save the rest. Also, some regressive and unequal practices are still going on like inheritance, asset ownership which means that no matter which religion a woman belongs to they are denied access to owning assets.

It means that most often than not an end of marriage leaves women with a financial crisis, along with emotional pain, on top of that they not only have to manage their own life but also their children’s without much financial aid.

Divorce Percentage

According to 2011 census on Indians marital status, “among divorced Indian women, 68% are Hindu, and 23.3%, Muslim.” This implies that more Hindu women are getting divorced than Muslim women.

The State governments have failed to empower Muslim women, issues related to their rights and needs are hardly addressed by politicians. Thus their social and economic conditions are degrading- they have unequal access to job, education and other opportunities in life.

More failed marriages were recorded in rural India with 8.5 lakh divorced persons and in urban India, the number is 5.03 lakh divorced persons. Maharashtra has the highest number of divorced citizens which is 2.09 lakh persons. The state which holds the record of lowest failed marriages has 1,330 divorcees.

Negatives of Triple Talaq

A Muslim man being able to end a marriage by a means of disrespecting and utterly irresponsible manner of triple talaq (uttering the word talaq 3 times, it can be oral, written or electronic). The practice of triple talaq was gender biased and gave unequal rights to Muslim women. So, it’s a victory worth celebrating that this shameful practice has culminated legally.

Why is Separation more harmful?

More dissolved marriages in India happen through separation and not a formal divorce. It’s a growing concern as separation (abandonment by a husband) is more common for women in all religions than a divorce. It puts women in a more dangerous spot as they can’t ask for alimony as there is no legality connected to it, which further weakens their financial status. Also, their husbands take away their freedom to remarry. According to census data, “More women than men in India are separated (out of a marriage without a formal divorce).”

So, though triple talaq was definitely a truly intolerable practice, it is only one of the ways through which married women could be abandoned. There are women across different communities who continue to face problems of abandonment, also called separation without having a proper means to survive or lead a decent life.

Also Read: Ishrat Jahan, a Triple Talaq Petitioner Writes to West Bengal CM Seeking Security After Supreme Court Verdict

Effectiveness of Divorce Laws

Marital dissolution in India comes under various laws but more often than not, the decisions don’t benefit women in a big way.  No matter how strong or secure is the legal framework, the single legal right that an Indian woman has after getting a divorce- the right of maintenance from her spouse or alimony. But maintenance or alimony reaches them much late due to the ‘prolonged legal processes’ and they are sometimes provided with very small and negligible amounts. Another loophole is that the court doesn’t ensure regular payment from their husbands.

Obviously, the problems are most dreadful for women whose marriages have not been formally ended, who are separated and not divorced from their husbands. Even for those women who have a formal divorce, the courts (be it family courts or formal courts) turn out to be grueling and intimidating places to seek justice, especially for the ones who are illiterate, not much educated, or belong to poor families.

Struggles faced during and after a divorce

Taking Divorce is a tedious process with repeated court trips, cases getting postponed, and lawyers charging heavy fees and most important but sidelined factor- to deal with patriarchal attitudes shown by lawyers as well as judges. All these reasons contribute to women feeling helpless with wasted efforts, and even lead to dissuasion of women (by family, relatives, friends, lawyers) to pursue the cases after a point.  Those women, who have taken up employment (for financial security) after the end of marriage, even if their employer pays them very less, they get little sympathy from the courts regarding alimony.

This should be the focal point in viewing the triple talaq judgment by the court. Muslim women have been successful in getting triple talaq scrapped by law but the war is not over yet. Indian women still have to face difficulties in getting some alimony or maintenance which is due to them, on which they have a deserving right.

Also Read: Namaz Offering Mamata Banerjee Remains Silent on Triple Talaq Verdict

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act

But, there has been a setback for Muslim women, we are talking about the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986, also known as MWA. This was widely seen as a patriarchal response in response to the clamor by the Muslim men to the Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano case in which her former husband was forced to pay continued alimony to her.

“The MWA drastically limited the husband’s liability to his former wife. It stated that once a woman’s iddat expenses (covering three months’ subsistence) had been paid and she had received her mehr (dowry) and any other money or property that had been gifted to her at the time of marriage, the husband had no further financial responsibility towards her.”

This law came was criticized by women activists and others who were sensitive towards women’s rights. It was called a discriminatory law that singled out Muslim women and deprived them of maintenance rights which are available to all the other divorced Indian women. They were taken for granted and the act had some harmful consequences. It encouraged a higher rate of divorce in Muslim community as it allowed Men to get away from the marriage without providing any maintenance for their wife’s survival.

Revision of Act

As per MWA, the husband should provide “reasonable and fair provision” during the 3 month iddat period. A clause was further added in 2001 by a Supreme Court judgment that “during the iddat period, a Muslim man is liable to make a payment to his ex-wife that will secure her ability to sustain herself in the future. As a result, courts began to require men to give their ex-wives substantial lump-sum amounts or to transfer some material assets such as land, a house, or gold and jewelry.”

The implementation of the law made divorced Muslim women heave a sigh of relief and will force the ex-husbands to give a substantial lump-sum amount to their wives. This would thus release the divorced Muslim women from worrying over the unreliability and uncertainty of periodic payments (by law) for maintenance.  This might make them even better off than non-Muslim counterparts. But in most other cases of divorce, lack of financial support from husbands remains a big concern for them.

The war is not over

The point we are trying to make is that the problems faced by divorced Indian women are plenty, and they are because of the social, cultural, economic and legal practices that are still present in all religions. This Supreme Court verdict should be reminders for all of us to take note of this small victory, to keep in mind the loopholes present in Divorce rights still and should also motivate us to take up more such battles in future in order to make our country more gender sensitive. So, that both the genders can live a life of peace and dignity.


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Hope “Real” Issues Concerning Muslims will Also Get Attention: Swaraj Abhiyan

Swaraj Abhiyan's leader Yogendra Yadav said educational inequality, discrimination in jobs and housing, and framing innocent Muslim youth with terror charges are their next major issues to focus on

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Muslim lady seeking for justice. Pixabay.
Muslim lady seeking for justice. Pixabay.
  • Post triple-talaq settlement, the Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj Abhiyan said that now attention should be given to other real serious issues of Muslims
  • Apex court should stop the abandoning of women without divorce
  • More attention should be given to the serious issues such as educational inequality, discrimination in jobs and housing, and framing innocent Muslim youth with terror charges

New Delhi, August 23, 2017: The Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj Abhiyan on Tuesday said with the triple talaq issue settled, now attention should be paid to the “real” issues concerning Muslims such as education, discrimination in jobs and habitation etc.

The Swaraj Abhiyan, while welcoming the Supreme Court decision banning instant divorce in one sitting by Muslim men, added that now anti-women rights practices in other religions, such as abandoning women without divorcing them, should also stop.

“We believe triple talaq is not only unconstitutional and inhuman, it is also un-Islamic. We hope that with the legal wrangle settled, now the country’s attention will go towards other big problems of the Muslim community,” the party said in a statement.

“Today, the Muslims across India are living in fear. It is high time that Muslim leaders and the so-called ‘secular’ parties paid attention to real serious issues like educational inequality, discrimination in jobs and housing, and framing innocent Muslim youth with terror charges,” it said.

The party also said that as the apex court had set aside the triple talaq, in the same spirit discriminatory practices against women in other religions, such as abandoning women without divorce, should also stop. (IANS)

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Islamic Yoga: Amalgamation of Yoga and Quranic Recitation by Muslim Women of Vadodara

A yoga session was organized by Tadbeer Foundation in which around 52 Muslim women participated

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Islamic Yoga, Amalgamation of yoga and Quranic recitation by Muslim Women
Islamic Yoga, Amalgamation of yoga and Quranic recitation by Muslim Women. Pixabay
  • Yoga is an age-old technique practiced since thousands of years and it is not a legacy of any one religion
  • Through Islamic yoga, we are trying to blend the ancient practice with Islamic chanting
  • I am a very good believer of Islam but there is a myth that only Hindus can practice yoga

Vadodara, Gujarat, August 22, 2017: Does only one religion have an exclusive right over yoga? Is yoga to be practiced by Hindu’s only?  It’s is a long going debate if practicing yoga is permitted in Islam religion or not as it originated from being a form of Hindu worship. Different people of Muslim faith have contrasting opinions on it. Don’t worry!  A city-based foundation called Tadbeer Foundation has come up with an uncommon way to spread yoga amongst Muslims. They have mixed yoga with Quranic recitation.

A special yoga session was organized by Tadbeer Foundation in which was attended by around 52 Muslim Women on August 20. The session was held at Taiyyebi Hall which is on Ajwa Road, Vadodara.

According to TNN report, Naasheta Bhaisaheb of the Tadbeer Foundation said, “Generally, women from our community stay away from doing yoga believing that it belongs to a particular faith. But yoga is an age-old technique practiced since thousands of years and it is not a legacy of any one religion. Through Islamic yoga, we are trying to blend the ancient practice with Islamic chanting,”

She added that the Islamic yoga is a completely a new concept altogether and in this practice, Quranic recitation gets blended along with various yogic posture in which Muslim Women try to enhance the physical benefits of yoga by adding a spiritual touch with recitation.

“The yoga session was specially designed by our spiritual leader Saiyyedna Haatim Zakiyuddin Saheb and my husband Dr. Zulqarnain Bhaisaheb, a homeopathy doctor,” said Bhaisaheb.

ALSO READ: Yogatomics Training and Wellness Centre in Stonington, USA Uses Healing Sound to Bring Twist in Traditional Yoga Practices

For this particular session, an international yoga expert – Shabanaben Lalawala came especially from Mumbai. He targeted common problems which women often suffer from like osteoarthritis of knees, back pain, frozen shoulders and hip pain among other diseases. Yoga can help in providing relief from diseases like these to an extent and can also prevent women from having such diseases if they practice yoga on a regular basis.

She added, “In this session, we focused on 5 asanas. From next session onwards, we will be focusing on problems related to diabetes, thyroid and so on.”

ALSO READ: These 7 Yoga Practices Can Help You to Ease Your Wandering Mind and Enhance Concentration

A local Muslim woman got herself a private yoga practitioner to help her with yoga postures. Fatema Lokhandwala, a 43-year-old woman, who holds a master’s degree in medical microbiology, said “I am a very good believer of Islam religion but there is a myth that only Hindus can practice yoga. Since last 4 years, I have been practicing yoga for which I got a private yoga practitioner. But the Islamic yoga that we did on Sunday was meant for physical, mental as well as spiritual upliftment and added more to what I was practicing so far,” mentions TNN report.

Shahina Chasmawalla, a 41-year-old lady, a resident of Vasna Road said “I am practicing yoga since last 5 years but Islamic yoga was a totally new concept for me. There is a taboo because of which some Muslim women don’t practice yoga. Anybody can practice yoga for its health benefits.”


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