ALIGARH: Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, a national coalition of Muslim women with over 70,000 members across 13 states, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders on reforms needed in Muslim Personal Law.
This comes as the Supreme Court bench of Justice Anil Dave and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel instructed the National Legal Services Authority of India to reply by November 23 on whether “gender discrimination” suffered by Muslim women should not be considered violation of their fundamental rights, guaranteed under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution and international covenants.
On Constitution Day, Zakia Soman, co-founder of the outfit which is now nine years old, said, “Gender justice is the principle of our Constitution. With our letter to the prime minister, we want to get the concerns of Muslim women registered with the government of India. We have prepared a draft that reflects the aspirations and demands of Muslim women. Accepting its provisions will help Muslim women lead a life of dignity.”
The women have presented a draft and urged the PM to take into account Constitutional rights of Muslim women. They have also sought that their opinions be taken on board, on issues of equality and justice.
In the draft, the Muslim women have drawn from the Quran to seek that polygamy be declared illegal and halala made an offence. They want women to have equal share of property.
They have suggested that Muslim women could be granted justice through amendments to the Shariat Application Act, 1937, as well as the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. They have recommended that the government might even consider enacting Muslim personal law anew.
The letter cites examples from Muslim countries that have “codified personal laws governing marriage and family matters,” and claim that Indian Muslim women have been denied access to such codified laws because “of the dominance of self-appointed conservative leaders.”
The women make mention of the research they conducted with a sample of 4,710 Muslim women across 10 states, in which an overwhelming 92.1% said they wanted a total ban on oral/unilateral divorce; 91.7% were opposed to polygamy and 83.3% women said codification of Muslim family law would help women from the community get justice.
The women said that after multiple consultations with thousands of Muslim women, lawyers and religious scholars, they had drafted a Muslim Family Law based on Quranic tenets and also in “consonance with the Constitution of India”.