National Federation for Indian Women [NFIW] from its very inception (1954) upholds the Indian Constitution which defines India as a sovereign,  democratic and secular state. It guarantees that every citizen lives with dignity and enjoys equality. All women are discriminated against by Personal Laws of all Religions. If Muslim clergy allows Talaq in one sitting, the Roman Catholic clergy can annul a marriage on a unilateral basis irrespective of when it had taken place and the Hindu men can abandon their wives without divorcing her and there are so many such examples where only the woman is discriminated against.

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. The focus at present is on the Muslim Personal Law. NFIW stands for justice for women in all religions. Without any disrespect for any religion we always support changes that are of utmost importance to women that are towards ensuring equal status between men and women. In the issue of Triple Talaq in one sitting we stand with Muslim women.

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. Woman should have a right to DIVORCE/KHULA and say the word “TALAQ” thrice in the same manner at a gap of one month and ten days each time in the presence of two adult witnesses and the divorce should be binding.

If at some point of time in their life the man and the woman once married and now divorced wish to remarry each other again there should not be a forced “Halala” in between. [Halala is the interim, obligatory ‘Nikah’ with another man and subsequent ‘talaq’ that has to take place for the husband and wife to marry again.] Divorced woman should have a right to maintenance for herself till she marries again and support for the children[if any] till they are adult.

Mehr should be paid at the time of ‘Nikah’ and cannot be taken back under any circumstances even if the woman seeks divorce.  Faced with questions about reforms or changes, it is immediately put forward that ‘the demand should come from the community.’ Well now the Muslim women are asking for these changes and a male dominated All India Muslim Personal Law Board [AIMPLAB] is threatening them and trying to crush their lawful demand.

It is mysterious that the Apex Court has sought the opinion of AIMPLB, an NGO, which neither represent the entire Muslim community nor have substantial number of Muslim women as its  members and not of the women organisations of this country with long standing. Why is the opinion of AIMPLAB being sought in case of issues that relate to women and not that of progressive Muslim women’s groups?

Instead of talking about gender justice and protection of women rights the Law Commission has floated a public questionnaire on UCC. Why is the government trying to merge the two issues? Why is the issue of the UCC being linked only with the Muslim Personal Law in a deliberately misleading manner polarizing communities? What is the scientific base for such a questionnaire and the home work they have done before preparing it? What is the composition of the Law Commission and how many women are there as its members?

This is nothing but an RSS-BJP design to push forward their Hindutva Agenda. All the orthodox and fundamentalist forces of all religions are united in denying women the equal status. At the present juncture the fundamentalist of AIMPLB is hand-in hand with these counterparts in the Hindu religion. NFIW reiterates its position that the Rights which are enshrined in the Indian Constitution should be ensured to every citizen irrespective of gender, caste and religion. Name of the speakers:  Mubina Qureshi (Ahmedabad), Mumtaz Fatima (Lucknow), Annie Raja, Dr. Noor Zaheer, Dr. Rushda Siddiqui , Najma Faizi.

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