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HVK Archives: Fight is on here for Muslim women's rights

Fight is on here for Muslim women's rights - The Times of India

P.K. Surendran ()
September 28, 1998

Title: Fight is on here for Muslim women's rights
Author: P.K. Surendran
Publication: The Times of India
Date: September 28, 1998

A handful of Muslim women in Kerala are fighting a grim battle
against the mighty men of their community.

NISSA, which in Arabic means women, formed by some 20 divorced
Muslim women in July last, is demanding equality for them in the
community. To achieve this, the organisation is demanding
suitable amendment to the Muslim Personal Law. A few of them
have buckled under the pressure of orthodoxy which a couple of
them have died. The remaining women are carrying on the battle
nevertheless.

It has been easy, as NISSA president V P Suhara has found out
now. Mother of three and widow Suhara was elected leader of
NISSA, in view of the initiative she had taken in its formation.
A few months after the organisation was launched, Ms Suhara was
smoked out of her home in Big Bazaar. She was warned by many
organisations and an apology was demanded from her for efiling
Islam=94. Criminal cases slapped on her when she refused to
oblige.

The immediate provocation was her recent press conference in
which she had produced before the press a poor woman who was
married and divorced twice in three years under a contract
system called, utta in which a man marry a woman for a
specific period. This has no legal sanctity but poor women are
trapped in the system. The net result is the woeful legacy of
divorcee and a couple of kids.

She had demanded a thorough probe into the system and approached
the National Women's Commission for its support. The action
seems to have angered the obscurantists who turned their ire on
her. Ms Suhara, describing her woes to The Times of India in her
unfinished new home in the Civil Lines said, she was getting
both letters of encouragement from well wishers who are mostly
outside Kerala and threats as well.

NISSA is fighting for a review of the Muslim Personal Law
practised in the country. It is not a common civil code but re-
look of the Law within the Islamic framework the forum is asking
for. The appeals and memoranda the organisation have sent to the
high and the mighty in the country point out that the Mohammedan
Law enacted by the British was at variance with the Koran and
Shariat. he Muslim women are suffering agony and thraldom,
says Ms Suhara. he tripple talaaque, marriage of minors,
contract marriage, not giving girls a role in deciding marriage,
lack of property rights are keeping them down in the mire of
deprivation.

Why is the Indian government not bringing our marriage laws on
par with others elsewhere? asks secretary C K Sainaba. Even in
Islamic countries the Personal Laws are amended in accordance
with the requirements of the local needs, she points out.


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