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India: Uniform civil code good only if it seeks gender equality

Saturday 5 November 2016, by siawi3


Uniform civil code good only if it seeks gender equality: NFIW

Ambika Pandit


Nov 2, 2016, 11.03 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Mumtaz Fatima, a resident of Lucknow on Wednesday came out to share how she was given talaq over phone and the doors were shut on her when she returned from work to her house. That was 2010 and Fatima is still fighting for justice. She filed a case of domestic violence against her husband and sought maintenance for her child in the Court of law where the matter is still being heard.

Like her, the story of Mubina Qureshi from Ahmedabad is heart wrenching. She holds a PHD in Islamic Feminism and in her education, she found the answers to the injustice meted out to her as her demand for ’khula’ (divorce) to get out of a bad marriage went unheeded under the Muslim personal law by the community and clerics. After years of turmoil, she found justice only when she turned to the Court earlier this year, where she managed to get a divorce by mutual consent.

Today, both Fatima and Mubina are part of the movement led by National Federation for Indian Women (NFIW) that is demanding focus on gender justice and equality. NFIW has demanded abolition of triple talaq in one sitting with immediate effect and stated that Uniform Civil Code is good only if it covers all religions and focuses on the principle of gender equality.

The Federation’s general secretary Annie Raja has alleged that the ruling BJP-led NDA government was only highlighting the Muslim Personal Law for political gains in the UP elections next year. Raja hit out saying that the BJP, RSS and fundamentalist forces must stop attempts at polarisation by only focusing on the Muslim woman and the issue of tripple talaq. NFIW further referred to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) as "just an NGO" that does not represent the entire Muslim community, adding that it will urge the Chief Justice of India to ensure all stakeholders are heard by court in a case in this regard, rather than just the Board.

"All women are discriminated against by Personal Laws of all Religions. Gender equality and gender justice is not a religious issue; it is a socio-political and legal issue of the country as a whole. Ensuring these as enshrined in the Constitution, is the responsibility of the State and people irrespective of religion and caste," NFIW has emphasized in a statement.

Annie Raja said, "Triple Talaq in one sitting should be abolished with immediate effect. [It is not prescribed in Quran either]. Anyone pronouncing or supporting it should be treated as instigating domestic violence."

The Federation is also critical of the Law Commission’s questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code. "Instead of talking about gender justice and protection of women rights the Law Commission has floated a public questionnaire on UCC. Why is the issue of the UCC being linked only with the Muslim Personal Law? What is the scientific base for such a questionnaire and the home work they have done before preparing it?," the Federation asked. "This is nothing but an RSS-BJP design to push forward their Hindutva Agenda. At the present juncture, the AIMPLB is hand-in hand with these fundamentalist forces," NFIW has alleged.