Women unite to fight against oppressive religious laws


The organization of most regressive patriarchs of India, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)  is vigorously protesting the Central Goverment’s affidavit to the Supreme Court which supported a ban on triple Talaq. They are also boycotting the questionnaire circulated by the Law Commission inviting opinion on Uniform Civil Code.

At the same time women activists, both inside and outside Muslim community, has come out with a strong statement condemning the AIMPLB last month. Here is the complete text of the statement.

We, as part of women’s movement and practising feminists working with Muslim community and the women of the community for years in India, take the liberty to write this statement condemning the recent affidavit posed by All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). The claims of this affidavit are:

First, abolition of triple talaq is (un) Quranic;

Second, since women lack decision making abilities, it is only men of the community who should have this right;

Third, polygamy is Islamic, though not promoted by Islam, and this practice ensures marital rights for Muslim women, banning of which will result in promiscuous sexual practices or murder of women at the hands of their husbands;

Fourth, the honorable Supreme Court of India has no right to intervene in the religious law of the community.

This statement has been issued by the AIMPLB in the context of the growing number of Muslim women’s petitions challenging the constitutionality of triple talaq in the apex court.

Image credit - DNA

Image credit – DNA

We strongly condemn this statement based on all the four premises.

First, whether the practice of unilateral triple talaq is validated by religion or not is not our concern, rather we emphasize that it is gender discriminatory and epitomises patriarchal values and therefore must be abolished.

Second, the belief that women lack decision making qualities dilutes the citizenship rights of Muslim women in India who have been exercising their electoral rights for more than sixty years now.

Third, the idea that polygamy ensures marital rights for Muslim women and prevents death threats, and that its erasure will increase promiscuous sexuality, is not only conservative but also challenges the principle of ‘equality’ enshrined by our Indian Constitution for women.

Fourth, the claim that Supreme Court cannot intervene in personal law contravenes Article 14 which promises equal rights to the citizens within Indian territory across religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.

Results of a survey by a Muslim women's organisation in times of India

Results of a survey by a Muslim women’s organisation from Times of India

It is no surprise that All India Muslim Personal Board has not progressed over the decades and reiterates the same position which resonates with the patriarchal conservative ideas of the community. However, we envision a gender just law for the community where there would be social security and rights for women as promised by the Indian Constitution.

We do not believe in progressive or regressive interpretation of religion, nor codification of Muslim Personal Law for codification can eliminate the multiple realities of identity, multiple practices of beliefs and pluralist visions of family structure, which we believe exist in every community, including the Muslim community.

We therefore, emphasize on acknowledgement of women’s rights which remain unacknowledged in the name of religion, purity, chastity or even in the garb of ‘protecting’ women.

This statement is not only an emphatic resistance to religious organizations like All India Muslim Personal Law Board but also a call to reiterate the feminist vision of gender just laws for Muslim women who are also rightfully Indian citizens.

It is heartening to see Muslim women in India finding their own voice and broad-based support to fight the patriarchs controlling them in the name of religion.

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