BHARATIYA MUSLIM MAHILA ANDOLAN
Muslim Women Demand Codified Personal Law, Release Draft
Muslim women gathered under the aegis of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan [BMMA] in Mumbai on 17th and 18th of July to demand codification of Muslim personal law. They released a draft law which has been put together in consultation with thousands of Muslim women apart from leading Islamic scholars, lawyers, jurists and academicians. They demanded that the Parliament and the government of India adopt this draft and call for nationwide consultations to bring about a gender-just MPL – Muslim personal law- based on the Holy Quran. The Constitution of India permits all socio-religious communities to follow their religious persuasions in family matters. Consequently, there are existing laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, The Divorce Act for Christians and Acts based on religious texts of other communities. For the Muslim community the Shariat Application Act of 1937, The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act of 1939 provide partial solutions to the existing socio-legal problems such as marriage, divorce, custody of children, polygamy etc.
The BMMA has been holding consultations and meetings of Muslim women and others from the community in different states – Gujarat, Maharashtra, MP, Orissa, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, U.P etc in the last seven years. This has been done with the intention to bring about a gender-just and fair Muslim personal law based on the Quranic principles. It has been seen that scores of Muslim women suffer in India owing to a lack of knowledge and awareness about Quranic tenets in matters such as marriage, divorce and other family matters. This situation is compounded by total absence of any laws in written or codified form. As a result, women get divorced instantly and get thrown out with nowhere to go. Similarly, there is a huge misinformation about the right of a Muslim man to marry more than once. Polygamy is not given a free hand in Quran and the Quran in fact points towards monogamy as an ideal. The draft MPL is an effort to put an end to such suffering of women.
Key highlights of the proposed draft MPL:
- · Age of marriage for girls to be minimum 18 and minimum 21 for boys
- · Total ban on oral, unilateral and triple divorce
- · No to polygamous marriage
- · Well-laid out Quran-based procedure, Talaak-e-Ahsan for a husband to divorce the wife and vice-versa
- · Minimum mehr or dower in consonance with the groom’s annual income
- · Compulsory registration of marriages
- · Maintenance support for wife and children during marriage, separation and divorce
- · Rules for custody of children in the event of divorce based on the principle that mother and father are natural guardians of the child
- · Responsibilities of the Qazis and Arbitrators have also been laid down
The BMMA has resolved to undertake a nation-wide campaign to make women and general public aware for the need for a codified MPL and the need to make the government act towards it. BMMA also resolves to make coalition of organizations and individuals to make this law a reality. BMMA recognizes that a codified MPL is just a first step towards a long term journey of justice and equity for all amongst the Indian Muslims. We plan to undertake huge awareness, dialogue, consultations amongst all sections of the Muslim community, civil society and agencies of the government.
The copies of the draft MPL are being sent out to Law Ministry, National Human Rights Commission, National Commission of Minorities, National Commission of Women, various state minorities and women’s commissions, members of parliament and others in decision-making positions to hold consultations with various stakeholders on this draft.