AT AGE 15 MUSLIM GIRLS WANT EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT AND NOT MARRIAGE
Zakia Soman, Founder Member of BMMA objected to adolescent girls being married away based on the definition of puberty being applied in the narrow physical sense. Girls and even boys are not ready to take on the onus of family responsibility at such a young age.
Khatoon Shaikh, Convener of BMMA in Maharashtra who successfully organized the press in Mumbai, believes that our religious leaders and our courts are not aware of the changing scenario within the community. Muslim girls want to educate themselves, even the parents who are poor and struggling to make both ends meet, are trying very hard to educate their girls so that they can have better prospects in future life.
Noorjahan Dewan, Convener of BMMA in Gujrat who mobilized hundreds of Muslim women, wants a Muslim law which legalizes the age of marriage at 18 for girls.
Noorjehan Safia Niaz, Founder Member of BMMA, said that if the Muslim law would have been codified this judgment probably would not have come. In the absence of a comprehensive codified Muslim family law, judgments are either based on the discretion of the judge or on laws which were formed ages back and do not reflect the current realities. The draft Muslim personal law designed by the BMMA calls for several reforms in the personal laws based on Quranic tenets. It demands total abolition of triple talaq and puts severe restrictions on polygamy. It advocates for laws based on the principles of justice and fairness given in the Quran wherein the girls get full protection in marriage and after divorce. It also calls for suitable mehr at the time of marriage and proper registration of marriage. The women demanded compulsory registration of marriages and a fair and transparent nikahnama. They demanded a total ban on triple talaq and severe restrictions on second marriage as mentioned in the Quran. The proposed draft also calls for total abolition of unIslamic practices such as dowry and halala. The Muslim women called upon the government to pass the Muslim personal law to provide protection to girls and women in marriage, divorce and in matters such as custody of children and property.
Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan [BMMA], organized a dharna in Ahmedabad and a press conference in Mumbai to state that the ruling of the Delhi High Court regarding the marriage of a 15-year old Muslim girl is very unfortunate. The ruling has raised many questions for the Muslim community and particularly Muslim women. Under the banner of BMMA Muslim women came out in large numbers on the streets in Ahmedabad demanding that Muslim personal law be codified. The dharna was held at Jamalpur Darwaja with over 200 women participating. They demanded 18 years to be the age of marriage for Muslim girls and 21 years for boys. The women carried placards demanding codification of Muslim law based on Quran. They condemned the view that it is ok for 15-year-old girls to be married as many women felt that girls need education for a better life for themselves and their families. Similarly in a press conference organized by BMMA young Muslim girls addressed the press and said that 15 is an age when girls are busy thinking about their school and college and their future career. She has other dreams and aspirations and wants to educate herself and stand on her own feet. Heena Shaikh, Rukhsar Siddiqui, Alisha Patel and Ishara Sajid, Mumbai girls between the ages of 13 and 18, and associated with BMMA’s young girl’s initiative, shared their views on this important issue. They opined that the girl becomes marriageable on attaining maturity of mind and emotional capacity to be able to make important life decisions. A 15 year old child cannot have this maturity and therefore it is inappropriate to have such a low age of marriage.