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A Uniform Civil Code Is Crucial To Protect Muslim Women From These Unfair ‘Traditions’

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By Pillai Vishnu:

A veiled Muslim bride waits for the start of a mass marriage ceremony in Ahmedabad, India, October 11, 2015. A total of 65 Muslim couples from various parts of Ahmedabad on Sunday took wedding vows during the mass marriage ceremony organised by a Muslim voluntary organisation, organisers said. REUTERS/Amit Dave - RTS3Z5U
Image credit: Reuters/Amit Dave.

Many decades ago we got a Hindu Code Bill. At the time, it was opposed strongly by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and other right-wing Hindu organisations. But the political will of the other side was stronger and Ambedkar and Nehru were able to stand their ground.

Now, a lot of the evil traditions in the name of Hinduism have become extinct like polygamy and many other evil patriarchal practices of Hinduism which are rarely ever heard of anymore. We can all agree that the Hindu Code Bill did a lot of good to Hinduism and the society at large. This is the motivation you need to break out of evil traditions in the name of God and religion. This is the motivation we need now to expand the Hindu Code Bill to a uniform code bill. Isn’t it unfair that the Muslims have a personal code? Unfair because I think Muslims are Indians first. They are Indians who happen to be Muslims and not Muslims who happen to be Indians.

The need for a uniform code bill is not just equality in law irrespective of religion. A study by an NGO, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan found that 92.1 percent Muslim women were against the practice of ‘triple talaq’, whereby the husband can divorce his wife wife by saying the word ‘talaq’ thrice.

The very sorry story of the Shah Bano case should have provided our leaders with enough ballast to push for and implement the uniform code bill. But the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi thought it would be better to appease the Muslim community for electoral gains. If he hadn’t thought about the country in terms of votes, probably we wouldn’t have heard of Shayara Banu who was forced to have six to seven abortions (she lost count) and then later divorced by mail with those three fateful words written in it. We wouldn’t have heard of a judge divorcing his wife by the triple talaq either.

Surprisingly, triple talaq is either banned or restricted in countries like Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan but it continues in India!

Divorce is fine, but let it happen in a court of law where the women have a chance to get what is due to them. That’s why you need a uniform code bill. Our patriarchal religions shouldn’t come in the way of the rights of women and gender equality. Religion shouldn’t be allowed in politics, or the law and, more importantly, it shouldn’t come in the way of justice.

Muslim personal law’s existence should be questioned especially when it stands in opposition to Prohibition Of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) for the Muslim community. The archaic Muslim personal law is just enforcing the tradition of not allowing young girls to have a decent shot at a good future. Instead, it allows these girls to get married at a tender age thereby, in most cases, forces them into a life of domesticity. And the country loses a bright future. Do you want to keep losing?

Polygamy has been described as a human rights violation by many women’s rights group across the globe on the grounds that it violates the dignity of women. The problem is that Muslim Personal Law gives cover to the practice of polygamy, where there have been cases of the wives being tortured physically and mentally and treated worse than animals in many instances.

Muslim personal law does not support family planning either. We can not afford to have people rejecting family planning at this time and age. In the older times, ‘more was merrier’ but at present, overpopulation is one of the greatest challenges we face as a country and as a civilisation. It would be unwise for us to follow rules formulated in a different time and place. It’s high time that we realised that rules and laws have to be updated with changing times.

I urge the Muslim community to support the push for a uniform code bill. It isn’t a threat to your religion. Support it because it would be a boon for your mother, sister, daughter and wife. Your support is important because we do not need politicians using religion to hold back a much-needed reform. Don’t restrict yourself to just being vote banks for politicians. It’s time you show how much smarter you are than the politicians and make them listen to you and not the other way around.

You must be to comment.
  1. Daredevil

    No one says a word when women walk out of relationships whenever they feel like it, often because they are ‘bored’. Real oppression occurs when women are handed miniskirts and plunging necklines in the name of freedom, and brainwashed out of their homes to work in the name of liberation.

  2. KK Bose

    Dear Sir, Greetings.
    What is required in India is the eradication of the wretched caste system. Think for a moment. What was the reason for the birth of Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism in India, and the entry of Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Islam in our country? Why the blood of everyone, except the 15% most favored in which you and I are included, boiling at all times? If not the untouchability based on the Varna (skin colour) system later converted to Varna class system right from Vaman avatar till the entry of the British, which again converted to ‘Caste system’ during the British rule? See some of the judgments of the British India courts, and our Hon’be Supreme Court after independence. ERADICATE CASTE SYSTEM.

  3. Pillai Vishnu

    To end a legal relationship one has to go to court, get leggaly divorced thats the law of the land. Muslim men do not have to though, they can just say three words and they are divorced and that is binding legally. Muslim women are not allowed to divorce. The uniform code bill will change this, where all divorces will be at a court, where everyone, man and woman, can get justice.

    The uniform code bill, is not about clothing and personal freedom. One can wear what they want be it a miniskirt, plunging neck line, salvar or burkha. What one wears or doesnt is ones own freedom. The uniform code bill will not dictate that, so as any other law in the country.

    You say women are brainwashed to work? Really, are men brainwashed to work then? To be indepenadant, to earn your living, to make a living, to make a name, is an individual’s choice. It isnt exclusively for men, women can make that choice too. They do not need any permission to have those aspiration and they definitely aren’t brainwashed to have those aspirations!

  4. Truth

    Women are very emotional by nature. If women could give triple talaqs, marriages would not last more than a month. Divorce is an emergency exit, not a privilege.

  5. Truth

    If a man exposes in public, he is a pervert. When a woman exposes, she is liberated. Liberated from true value as a human being, whose low self-esteem has to be compensated with skin-show. Women don’t have any respect for themselves or their bodies. As for women in the workforce, it is clear why the business of nannies and day care services is thriving, with children growing up with maids who are then expected to treat children like a mother would. Feminism is the destruction of morals, values, ethics, and family life. Since the rise of feminism, we have seen a rise in depressed fathers, single mothers, divorces, and juvenile criminals.

  6. Jitender Kohli

    Uniform-civil-code is to provide equality to the Indians irrespective of religion, region, caste or creed, each human loving should support and well-come it.

  7. Vishnu

    I really didnt want to acknowledge your sexist comment, but i feel for whatever reason i should explain.

    First of all, all humans have emotions, which are regulated by various chemicals. I am doctor thats what we are taught. Men and women both have emotions. To answer your queations there are many studies out there that find women more mentally strong than men. But this is not a battle of the sexes.

    I will be the last person to judge a women’s decision, because my mum is a women anf her decisions have made me.

    The uniform code bill is against the triple talaq, no one should be able to get away from commitments by uttering three words. Mind you i am not againsg divorce, i hope that a women will never spend a day with a man who is fine to end a relationship by uttering 3 words. The uniform code bill will give justice, what is her due. The religious laws are shielding such men, for that it should go.

    You say divorce is not a priveldge? Yet why is it only men are allowed to divorce? Isnt that a previledge for men?

    Please refrain from sexism.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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