State Council Meeting Report
Maharashtra Unit, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan
16, 17 June 2012, AgaKhan Palace, Pune
The State Council of Maharashtra Unit of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan [BMMA] met in Pune at the prestigious AgaKhan Palace. District Conveners of BMMA from Osmanabad, Pune [Daund, Yeravda, Hadapsar], and Sholapur attended the meeting.
On 16th June a press meet was held at the Patrakar Bhavan to condemn the Delhi High Court judgment regarding the age of marriage of Muslim girls. It was well attended by the press. At the press meet the District Convener of Pune, Saeeda Jamadar stated that Muslim girls are actively educating themselves. But the judgment does not reflect this reality. The ruling has raised many questions for the Muslim community and particularly Muslim women. BMMA demanded 18 years to be the age of marriage for Muslim girls and 21 years for boys. A 15 year old child cannot have this maturity and therefore it is inappropriate to have such a low age of marriage. In the press meet Noorjehan Safia Niaz, Founder Member of BMMA called for codification of Muslim law so that the Quranic injunctions can be translated into a law and women can access justice.
In the afternoon, the State Council meeting was attended by 30 women. Muslim women from Pune district, especially from Daund attended the meeting in large numbers. In this meeting, Noorjehan Safia Niaz gave an indepth understanding of BMMA. She gave details about its genesis, vision, objectives, values, principles, activities and campaigns. Salim Shaikh and Faiyaz Inamdar from Muslim Samanway Samiti took an active part in the proceedings and gave a broad understanding about the issues and concerns of Muslims in Maharashtra and in the country. The Muslim women from Daund shared about the difficulties faced by them in their district and expressed their willingness to join BMMA. They shared with the gathering the case of a woman who was orally and unilaterally divorced by her husband. She wanted justice for herself and her children.
In continuation of the meeting, on 17th June District Conveners from Osmanabad, Sholapur and Pune shared their work with the rest of the team. It was also decided that the State Convener of Maharashtra, Khatoon Shaikh will visit Daund and meet the local qazi and masjid committee to get justice for the woman who had previously shared her traumatic experience of oral divorce.
In the public meeting held in the evening, the BMMA was honoured to have Ms. Shobana Ranade amongst them. She is a Gandhian and a freedom fighter. Amongst many other responsibilities she is the trustee of Kasturba Gandhi N.M Trust. She expressed her support and solidarity to BMMA and remarked that AgaKhan Palace has seen many historical moments of freedom struggle and it is only natural that any movement for social justice will be successful if started from here. Mr. Siddharth Dhende, sitting corporator from Yeravda and a practicing doctor, who also supported BMMA in organizing this meeting, called for dalits and Muslims to come together to fight social injustice and marginalization. He also through a case study narrated the various stages at which a Muslim woman faces hurdles and difficulties. Poverty, lack of education and awareness, patriarchal socialization of men all contribute to her travails. He also stated that it is a well thought out strategy to keep the bahujan out of the ambit of power. And hence all exploited classes must join hands for justice and development. Khatoon Shaikh, Convener of Maharashtra shared her work in other districts of Maharashtra and her experience of working with the State in implementing the schemes meant for the minorities. Salim Shaikh, Secretary Muslim Samanway Samiti, urged the Muslims to work towards their own development. He shared the fact that BMMA and MSS are working together in Maharastra for giving voice to the most marginalized community, the Muslims.
The meeting concluded with the following resolution:
BMMA launched their Unit in Daund, Pune. Safia Shaikh was declared the BMMA leader of Daund.
The gathering called for an effective and immediate implementation of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee report.
The gathering also called the Delhi High Court judgment to be very unfortunate and insisted that the age of marriage of Muslim girls should be 18 and that of boys should be 21.
Connected to the issue of age of marriage, the gathering called for codification of Muslim personal law so that the Quranic injunctions which favour women’s rights get converted into a comprehensive law and thus become accessible to Muslim women.