State Level Workshop on Strengthening Institutional Linkage and Rights of Muslim Women in India

State Level Workshop on Strengthening Institutional Linkage and Rights of Muslim Women in India
December 3rd to 5th2013
Gandhi Bhavan, Bhopal Madhya Pradesh
Organized by
MARG (Multiple Action Research Group) Delhi
BMMA (Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, M.P
A Two days State Level Training was organized on the issue of “strengthening institutional linkage & Rights of Muslim” Women in India in the state of Madhya Pradesh at the Gandhi Bhavan (Bhopal) by Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA-MP) and MARG-Delhibetween December 3rd to 5th 2013 with a seminar on last day.
There were around 45 participants for the training programme who had gathered from various districts of Madhya Pradesh. The participants were mainly from the Movements, lawyer groups  and  Civil Society Organizations working on women livelihoods, gender justice and Democratic rights issues; subject experts, academicians, lawyers, government representatives and media persons. The workshop was more on the principle of participation and collaboration of all, where each got the opportunity to share their views matters of concern. This report lays emphasis on the objectives for the workshop and the outcome of the meeting. The language used in the workshop was Hindi. 
The presentations and discussions in the two day workshop raised important points of Muslim Women’s Rights in the Constitution of India and Personal Law. All participants agreed that the human-rights-based approach on the Muslim women issues needed to be more intensively revealed, evaluated and continuously monitored. There was diversity in the understanding and use of Human-rights-based approaches across organizations varying from more legal understandings of rights to more localized notions of empowerment. It was clear that more conceptual work needed to be done to arrive at a deeper understanding of the meaning of rights and the ways in which using a Human-rights- based approach could add value to the Muslim women’s Rights interventions by the state, regional organizations and authorities.
The workshop started with a welcome by Mrs. Safia Akhtar(Convener-BMMA MP),following this Ms.Anju Talukdar (MARG), delivered the inaugural address and shared her ideas with the participants and in this session Mr. Rajesh also joined welcomed the participants and invited them to introduce themselves with their expectation and challenges. After introduction of all the participants their challenges and expectation from the programme, these following points extracted:
  • Conservative Nature of Muslim Community,
  • Low literacy level and lack awareness about Muslim Personal Law,
  • Lack of awareness in the  community and authority on Muslim Women’s  Rights,
  • Lack of information about the Muslim Women Rights,
  • Non-responsive nature of authorities on Muslim personal law matters.
  • Societal Behavior and law.
  • New Learning
  • Unfold law and policies in the matters of Muslim women rights
  • Identification of authorities and departments which helps to empower the community.
  • Easy solution in the matter of domestic violence, succession, divorce and other personal matters.
Objectives of the Workshop:
In the same session, Mr. Rajesh described the aims and objectives of the programme with incorporation of Constitutional Rights and Muslim Personal Law.
Session –I
Constitution of India, Organs of Government, Fundamental Rights
Ms. Anju stated that the Muslim community and most of Govt. departments have a myth in their mind that the fundamental rights of women in Indian constitution and in Muslim Personal Law are different. But in practical both are almost same in books of law. All the rights come with liabilities and the nature of state. Our constitution is based on Equality, Security and Justice and all our practices govern by it. Various departments and commissions concern with minority community but the gap between the community and authorities create more difficulties to empower the community and as result the condition of Muslim women is vulnerable. Ms. Anju presented a PowerPoint presentation before the participants on:
  • principles of Indian constitution
  • Pyramid of Rights
  • Fundamental rights in Indian constitution.
  • Article 14,19, 21,22,23,24,25
  • Right to Life,
  • Right to freedom
  • Right to property
  • Right to religious education and propagation
Ms.Anju explored stated points before the participants and the main emphasis on weaker section support system before law and explained it with a Shayari Competition.
Session –II
Civil and Criminal Cases, Legal Remedies, Hierarchy of Courts
Mr.Rajesh initiated the session with Ms.Anju most of the participants not aware about the Civil and Criminal nature of cases. Ms.Anju described the nature of civil and criminal cases and the courts. Mr. Rajesh explored the legal remedies to practice our constitutional rights before courts in case of any violation of our fundamental rights by the state or individual. In these session participants discussed the Dow Chemicals (Bhopal Gas Tragedy), right to life, freedom and organization.
Mr. Rajesh also explored the writs and its nature according the violation before courts. He said the legal remedies provide equal opportunity to the citizens of India before the law. Most of the victims, activists and organizations utilize it.
Ms.Anju described the hierarchy of Courts (Civil & Criminal, High and Supreme Courts) nature of cases which will maintainable before different courts.  Public interest litigation in personal and organizational capacity before the high court and supreme court.
Session -III
Criminal Justice System (FIR, Bail, Arrest etc.)
Session III initiated by Mr.Rajesh and showed movie “Bol Basanto”. The movie have all the aspects of criminal system like FIR, Arrest(Woman), Bail and trail. After the movie its open session which was initiated by participants. Questions raised by the resource persons and participants answer it.
Sub-Inspector Ms.Rashida Jahan described the processes also in practical. The participants shared their experiences and views in the police station and in the court during their work.  Ms. Anju also described cognizable and non-cognizable offences, investigation, custody of woman and its nature and the role of public servant. In these session participants skit a play of under the direction of Ms.Anju.
Session -IV
Domestic Violence Act
Session IV is almost like a open session due to experience of various participants o it but they are not utilize it in the matter of Muslim woman. Ms. Anju stated that the Muslim women are also covered in it and it gives shelter, maintenance and possession in same house to the victim. The Domestic Violence Act has very positive aspects but the nature of authorities and society is not appropriate on it. It has fast trial procedure but in practical it is delayed in court. Most of the participants shared their experiences and challenges.
Ms.Anju did a powerpoint presentation on Domestic Violence Act on the following points:-
  • Types of violence,
  • Relief
  • Service Providers
  • Limitation of disposal
Protection officer and police departments role is clear in it but the victim don’t know to contact first whom. The prime problem is shelter and delayed trial which is disheartened the victim.  Most of the participant’s opinion is: more utilization and public pressure make it more efficient.
Second Day (December 4, 2013)
Recap of Previous Day
All the participants actively revised the previous day sessions on different segments and contents like Fundamental Rights, Criminal Procedure (FIR,Bail, Arrest and Trial) Domestic Violence Act 2005.
Introduction of Personal Law, Difference between Personal Law and Other Laws
Mr.Anju differentiates the personal law and other laws (Like Criminal and Civil). Personal law addresses the matter of Marriage, Divorce, Adoption and Succession according to religion and customs. Muslim personal law is not codified in India and it is based on Shariya Application Act and Dissolution of Muslim marriage act 1939. BMMA and some other Muslim women organizations working on codification on the basis of Quran. 
Mr.Rajesh has a presentation in PowerPoint on the following:
  • Source of Muslim personal Law
  • Marriage and its Eligibilities,
  • Types of Divorce,
  • Basis of Divorce
  • Maintenance as per Personal Law and Criminal Procedure
  • Succession as per Muslim personal law.
Ms. Anju also described Section 125 of maintenance with comparison of Muslim Women Protection Act 1986  she illustrated Ahmad Khan V/s Shah Bano (1986) Case  and Daniel Latifi’ s case before the participants.
Mrs. Safia Akhtar also briefed about Muslim Women’s Rights according Quran, Veil-Tradition in India and in Islam, Property Right in Islam. She also described types of Divorce according Islam and practical barricades of Islamic Family Court (Qaziyat) which makes Muslim women vulnerable in the society.
Right to Education & Prohibition of Child Marriage
Ms. Anju said that Right to education and Prohibition of child marriage act are two different acts but both are interlinked. Mr. Rajesh said that article 21 A of Constitution says that free and compulsory education is a right of every child and in result Govt. make act in 2005 which is called Right to Education Act. we got it after a long struggle in the interest of society. But our society suffer with  various irrational practices  like child marriage, child labour, trafficking etc. most of  the problems of children solved by the law and legislation but child marriage is a societal problem. Which will demolish by the community not by the authorities and law. Some participants shared their experiences on child marriage in rural area. Mr. Rajesh presented the following presentation  (Powerpoint) before the participants:
Right to Education
  • Free and Compulsory Education
  • Private and Govt. School
  • Liabilities of Authorities and Parents.
  • SMC and SMDC
Prohibition of Child Marriage
  • Age of Marriage
  • Punishment on child marriage
  • Preventive measures with other practices.
The participants collectively came to the conclusion that Muslim Women’s issue should be address separately and constantly. In future we will develop resource material and establish a resource centre on it. Mrs. Safia Akhtar thanks to all the Participants who came from long journey and MARG also which made it possible on the Muslim Women specifically.
Seminar on Strengthening Institutional Linkage and Rights of Muslim Women in India
Seminar was organized by MARG (Multiple Action Research Group), Delhi and BMMA (Bharitya Muslim Mahila Andolan) Madhya Pradesh Unit. MARG is an organization working nationally on increasing legal awareness among people, providing legal-aid, working towards good governance and networking with commissions to develop better policies for marginalized communities.  BMMA is a group of activists working for empowerment of Muslim women and nationally creating awareness among Muslim religion regarding the rights of women. In this seminar, most of the activist, community leaders and many other NGOs from Madhya Pradesh also participated to address the problems faced by Muslim women in Madhya Pradesh.
Seminar began with an introductory note of Mrs. Safia Akhtar(BMMA, State Convener –MP ). She welcomed Chief Guest Mr. Ibrahim Qureshi(First former Chairman of Minority commission) and the audience for their participation. In her statement, Safia Akhtar also presented the current status of Muslim Women in Madhya Pradesh. For such condition of Muslim Women in Madhya Pradesh, she said no law and efforts have been made so far. She also shared the information that Personal Law has been formed but still no efforts have been laid by Government for codifying Muslim law. The codification of Muslim law is very much required because it is affecting Muslim women a lot. In most divorce cases Muslim women remain the sufferer and the women looking for justice did not get much support because of too much dependence of Muslim’s on Qazi’s & Mufti’s. She also unfolded many stories about Muslim women accepting without resisting proposals of their husband’s is getting married again because of disbelief among Muslim men that Quran give them permission of doing four marriages.
After Safia Akhtar’s introductory speech, Ms. Anju Talukdar (Executive director of MARG) gave a description of MARGs objective of organizing the seminar on creating legal awareness among Muslim women and networking with Commissions to support in their effort of improving the situation of Muslim women in Madhya Pradesh. She also raised her concerns that most of the Muslim women do not know consider the rights provided to her by Indian Constitution. She also shared her experience of working with Muslim women’s in Orissa. She told that 75% of women do not know about commissions and the role of the commissions can play in improving the situation of Minority and Marginalized communities in India. Therefore, it is necessary to develop linkages with commissions to propose valuable recommendations to empower status of Muslim women.
Mr. Ibrahim Qureshi, the chief guest agreed on the issues addressed by the organizers and also shared his concerns for the current challenges faced by Muslim women in Madhya Pradesh. But he also told that Muslim religion is the only religion which has given more importance of Muslim women as per to her right of choice during her marriage, right in maternal and paternal property, equality in education and even in process of divorce, the rights of women are given more priority. He also told that commission have been doing lot of efforts in making Muslim women empowered economically by schemes started for SHG groups in MP. The percentage of general literacy rate (77.7%) has also increased. Many scholarship programs have also been started but the rate of availing these opportunities is low. There is lack of awareness among Muslim community. Therefore, NGOs should establish information centers to increase the level of awareness.
From audience raised their concerns and shared it with Mr. Qureshi regarding the higher drop-out rate of Muslim girls after primary education, child marriages, lack of efforts of Government in raising awareness on rights of Muslim women, etc.
Mr. U.C.Pandey from IGNOU also shared his concerns. He was happy to hear that many women from audience have been associated with IGNOU programs. Therefore, he gave details about the efforts IGNOU have been doing other than introducing educational programs for Muslim women but lots of scholarship programs as well as relaxation provided to Girls in fees. He also shared that recently a center has been started especially for Muslim women where female Muslim faculty will be appointed for increasing the comfortability level. Mr. U.C. Pandey also distributed the application forms for recently introduced programs of Muslim women.
After Mr. U.C. Pandey’s encouragement to audience, Ms. Upma Rai (President Women Commission M.P.) shared her happiness to be here and interacting with audience. But she also shared her resentment for the ill treatment Muslim women have been facing silently. She encouraged the Muslim women to know their constitutional rights and aloud their voice. She also shared a recent complicated case of a Muslim woman. She addressed the audience that Muslim women should approach court first in case of any kind of violence instead of sitting home idle and approaching Mufti or religious preachers. She also shared that if there would be any kind of problem faced by any Muslim women, they are free to meet her any time. She will be happy to help them in any way. She also said that she will be help BMMA and its supporters in formulating special recommendations for Muslim Women upliftment and in codification of Muslim Personal Law.
While approaching in the end of seminar, Nausarat Bano Ruhi (renowned social activist) shared that she is happy that so many Muslim women participated in this seminar and invitees from Commissions understood the objective of organizing this seminar. But still Muslim women should understand their rights and have to come forward and raise their voice against any kind of violence.
Mrs. Safia Akhtar while thanking the guests and audience shared the draft prepared to present before Government to introduce those recommendations while codifying Personal law. She also shared that this effort is not alone focusing in MP but at present, focusing at national level to reach maximum support of Muslim women to come forward and raise their concerns. In the end, thanked MARG for their support and guests for their cooperation. She also thanked the audience for their active participation.

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