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89% Muslim women want government hand in codification of law in Maharashtra: Study

Mumbai(dna): Around 89% Muslim women feel that the government should intervene and help in codification of law and 86% want religious leaders to take responsibility of justice for them. This and many other findings have come out in a study conducted by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), an organisation that looks to take up rights of Muslim women in particular and women in general.

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan office-bearers address a press conference at the Marathi Patrakar Sangh on Tuesday.

The study was conducted across 10 states with a sample size of 4,719 Muslim women. Published as a book named ‘Seeking Justice Within Family – A national story on Muslim Women’s Views on Reforms in Muslim Personal Law’ by Dr Noorjehan Safia Niaz and Zakia Soman, the study was released in a press conference at Marathi Patrakar Sangh on Tuesday. The book, which will be given to the prime minister’s office, various commissions, eminent jurists among others, is available on bmmaindia.blogspot.com.

Among the other major findings is that an overwhelming percentage of women (95.5%) from the sample study have not heard about the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). Formed in 1985, AIMPLB is often considered to be the de facto body head on religious matters of the Muslim community.

Apart from that polygamy is the second highest concern. Around 91.7% did not want their husbands to have another wife in the subsistence of their first marriage. At least 85.7% felt the Mehr (Dower) amount, which is almost always skipped, be given at the time of nikaah.

Age of marriage, said 75% respondents, be more than 18 years for girls and 88% felt that 21 years for boys. The study says oral divorce, which has been a cause of heartburn, needs to be done away with and 88.3% respondents wanted the divorce to be done through the talaq-e-ahsan method, which means that the process be spread over a period of 90 days involving negotiation and avoiding arbitrariness and with a given of reconciliation.

“Not much has changed after the Shah Bano case. Most religious leaders are very resistant to any change,” said Zakia Soman. The group said that neither they nor the religious clerics have tried to talk to them over the issue of codification of Muslim law. For a law to be made and taking into consideration the orthodox people who are opposing reform managing to draw large crowds, the women’s group said that they also had the numbers.

“When Hindu Marriate Act came, where were the numbers then? We may not be having women (to show), but we can see that a large number of them are suffering. Because of no codification, there is an attitude among Muslim men that they have the right to marry more than once which is not in the case in Hindus. Hindu and Christian laws are codified and there is no reason why Muslim law cannot be codified when most countries have codified them,” said Noorjehan, emphasisng about the sufferings of the women in the lower middle class strata where the study mostly focused.

The findings
1. Status of Muslim women
Annual income of families below Rs50,000 – 73.1%
Married before age 18 years – 53.3%
Women with one or two children – 46.5%
Women who faced domestive violence – 53.2%
Women who are home makers – 78.7%
Women who’ve not heard about AIMPLB – 95.5%

  1. Marriage age
    Women who want girls’ age to be over 18 years – 75.5%
    Women who want boys’ age to be over 21 years – 88.3%
  2. Mehr
    Women who want Mehr to be given at marriage – 85.7%
    Annual income to be Mehr amount – 83.9%
    Do not want to forego Mehr when women want divorce – 75.1%
    Received Mehr less than Rs1,000 – 40 %
    Did not receive Mehr at all – 44%
  3. Polygamy
    Do not want husband marrying in subsistence of first marriage – 91.7%
  4. Divorce – women who want:
    Total ban on oral/unilateral divorce – 92.1%
    Talaak-e-Ahsan to be method of divorce – 88.3%
    Arbitration mandatory before divorce – 93%
    Arbitration process between three to six months – 72.3%
    Qazi to be punished who sends notice of oral divorce – 88.5%
    Women in sample study divorced orally – 65.9%
    Women divorced unilaterally – 78%
  5. Maintenance
    Women not receiving maintenance at all in marriage – 27%
  6. Custody and adoption of children
    Women retaining custody of children – 88.9%
    Ex-husband paying for children’s maintenance – 95.6%
    Want consent and well being of child to be deciding factor – 92.7%
    Adopted child to be the treated as natural heir – 79.8 %
  7. Codification and Darul Qazas
    Women who believe codification law will help get justice – 83.3%
    Activities of Darul Qaza be monitored by state – 87.9%
    Government to intervene in codification – 89%
    Muslim women body provide legal aid – 95.4%

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