Sunday, April 8, 2012

Now, a better life for married Muslim women? Consultation on codification of Muslim Family Law aimed at making laws favourable for fairer sex

Now, a better life for married Muslim women?

Consultation on codification of Muslim Family Law aimed at making laws favourable for fairer sex

Muslim women who have been getting a rough deal due to arbitrary decisions of Ulemas and the unscrupulous behaviour of their husbands now have something to look forward to. A consultation on codification of Muslim Family Law offers them a better deal with respect to marriage age, mehr (gift during marriage), polygamy, and maintenance during the marriage and iddat (separation period before divorce), divorce and irregular marriage.
The consultation for the same was held on Saturday at the SNDT Women’s University. Organised by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) and Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD), it had prominent speakers like Dr Zeenat Shaukat Ali, advocate Kirti Singh and Javed Anand, representatives from Jamat-e-Islami and various women’s group across Maharashtra participating.
While issues like the mehr amount being the same as that of a man’s annual income, the marriage age being 18 for girls and 21 for boys and the fight for better maintenance have been highlighted in the media before, the meeting delved into greater details of the marriage contract.
The draft talks of making divorce a wee bit more difficult, to begin with. “There were some customs like triple talakh that were prevalent during the pre-Islamic period and got re-introduced during the Kalipaths. At one point of time, people made a joke out of divorces. They were being given legitimacy by clergy order and laws made by Imams, which ended up eclipsing Quran. There should also be a complete ban on Halala that makes a joke of women,” said Dr. Zeenat Shaukat Ali. Halala includes making a women marry another man if she has to remarry her previous husband.
“The things being prepared in the draft are not something new. They were always there in the Quran. Due to various schools of thoughts, these issues are being dealt arbitrarily and not the way Quran talked about it. Ulemas call the triple talakh socially repugnant but also consider them to be theologically valid,” said Javed Anand.
Apart from Halala, the draft helps women to call off the marriage if her husband has deserted her and has not been around for two years. The new codification also makes polygamy conditional. “In the nikahnama, a woman can deny marriage if her husband does not accept monogamy,” said Noorjehan Safia Niaz of BMMA..
Other issues that left for discussion at a later date include custody of child and inheritance rights. “We will take them up soon. Overall it was very fruitful. We are happy that we could take them up openly as all this was not possible earlier. There are differences and they still remain but we are able to talk now,” added Niaz.

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