- About BMMA: Formation, Vision, Objectives and Structures
- Achievements and Milestones
- Citizenship and BMMA
- Education and Child Rights
- Employment and Livelihoods
- Gender Justice and Law Reform
- Outreach and Networking
- Public Meetings and Campaigns
- Community and Government Survey
- Roping in the youth: Sehr and Udaan
4. Islamic Feminism and BMMA
- Campaign to Codify Muslim family law
- Darul Uloom-e-Niswaan: Womens’ Knowledge Centre
- Auraton ki Shariat Adalat
- Equal Access to Sacred Spaces: Haji Ali Dargah and BMMA victory
- Photo Gallery
- BMMA in News
Founding of BMMA
Historically, the women’s movement in India represented by many autonomous women’s groups has undertaken the mammoth task of bringing women’s issues to the forefront. It was done by way of advocating for law reforms and also creating consciousness amongst women for unapologetically demanding their rights as women and as citizens of this country. We find that these groups have done tremendous work towards raising issues concerning women’s rights. Unfortunately, the movement assumed the homogeneity of women’s identity and thus could not effectively address the concerns of the many excluded and minority groups like the Dalits, the Muslims and the adivasis etc. Also, our experience particularly in Gujarat and many other situations of communal violence shows that secularism is the key foundation for working on women’s issues and it should be adhered to unflinchingly. We were shocked at the conspiracy of silence in Gujarat in which even some women participated when Muslim women were brutally mass assaulted and burnt alive in broad daylight. Besides Muslim women’s exclusion cannot be fought in isolation without simultaneously addressing the exclusion of the Muslim community. We needed a proactive participation of the entire Muslim community, secular groups, civil society, media, those in government in order to address Muslim women’s rights. We felt that we need to take up the leadership of our issues ourselves even as we work closely with the mainstream women’s movement and other excluded peoples’ movements such as the dalit movement, the trade union movement, the adivasi peoples’ movement etc. We felt the need for a healthy constructive solidarity and collaboration with secular community even as Muslim women lead the struggle for their rights. Jiski ladai uski agwayi became our motto.
Post the communal violence in Gujarat 2002, some of us working in Mumbai, U.P, Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka and Rajasthan were holding meetings and consultations with Muslim women in different states. By early 2006 we were already organized as a small group of Muslim women who were determined to fight for the citizenship rights of our community as guaranteed by our Constitution. The Muslim women at the grassroots who were extremely marginalized socially, educationally and economically had in a sense taken the lead in forwarding the cause of, initially, fellow Muslim women and now the entire community. This process of empowerment which began during and after the 1992-93 communal violence in Bombay and other parts of the country and culminated in Gujarat 2002 [where Muslim women led the struggle for justice], gave us hope about the potential of Muslim women’s empowerment. We were witness to numerous instances where Muslim women came forward to demand relief and rehabilitation, against police firing, against illegal detention and for peace and harmony. The recent years have seen a huge upsurge in Muslim women’s involvement in the public sphere. Many women who had lost an earning member of their family had to take up some economic activity to sustain themselves and their families. Others took to education with a vengeance and scores of other women simply could not go back to their homes after having played a crucial role in protecting their men and their community from police brutality. The transition from the ‘private’ to the ‘public’ had begun. Organization was now the crying need of this historic hour.
The women at the grassroots began to slowly organize themselves through various means. Some joined the political parties; others took support of the NGOs to partake in the developmental and welfare activities. A few NGOs, who till then believed in the homogeneity of the women’s causes, realized that special attention needs to be given to Muslim women. At least the process of understanding their issues had begun.
It was a heartening sign that the most marginalized were taking a lead in responding to the challenges of unemployment, illiteracy, discriminatory family law, police atrocity, communal polarization and State’s omission and commission in relegating the community to utter neglect and alienation. In short, the women of the community were ready for social transformation.
Indian history is replete with scores of instances of struggle for social justice. Women and especially Muslim women have also initiated and actively participated in many historical movements for justice during the freedom movement. These struggles are still on with increasing strength of women. But, women’s participation and the articulation of her notions of social justice and development have always been ignored. This alternative voice which is concerned with just and humane development did not get due recognition. Thus a strong need was felt to create a collective that will not only address the concerns of the Muslim community and particularly of the Muslim women but also take concrete steps to ameliorate this situation. We felt that a platform was required where the most oppressed and marginalized individual gets a voice and is able to mobilize herself to create conditions in society which will ensure social, economic and political justice, human rights, equality and peace.
The formation of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan [BMMA] was a natural corollary to this socio-political situation – blatant exclusion followed by the self-propelled empowerment processes that had been happening in the country. While the Muslim women were struggling in their respective villages, cities, districts, states what was missing was the national platform that could forge these scattered energies together. We felt the need for a national alternative progressive voice of the community. The BMMA proved to be that missing link which got together Muslim women under one umbrella into a democratic organization.
The preparatory work for the movement began and continued in 2004 to 2006. On 10th January 2007, the BMMA was formally inaugurated in Delhi in the presence of eminent personalities and large number of Muslim women who had gathered to witness and participate in this historical moment. About 500 women from grass-roots from across the country were present at the inauguration. The eminent members present and who supported and joined the movement were Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Ms. Sayeeda Hamid, Prof. Imtiaz Ahmed, Ms. Seema Mustafa, Prof. Babu Mathew, Dr. Jimmy Dabhi and Dr. L C Jain amongst others.
All of us who are associated with the Muslim community and specifically with the issues of Muslim women are aware of the extreme social, economic, political, legal and educational backwardness of the community. The issues of the community and specifically of the Muslim women are difficult to handle as the community is in minority and is deeply influenced by conservative, religious patriarchal forces on one hand and survives in extreme poverty and marginalization on the other. Moreover, communalism and fundamentalism has resulted in increasing insecurity and alienation within the community. Increasing incidence of terrorism, increasing negative impact of capitalism and international perception of the community has had an adverse impact on the issues of Muslim women.
The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan believes in the values of democracy, secularism, equality, non-violence, human rights and justice as enshrined in the Constitution of India. These are our guiding principles in our struggle for justice and equality. We are guided by the Quranic values of justice, kindness, compassion, wisdom in our work. We also believe in collaborating and building alliances with other movements and networks that are fighting for social justice and human rights. We want the leadership of Muslim women to work towards ameliorating the social, economic, political, legal and educational backwardness and fight for justice. In our quest we follow the positive, liberal, humanist and feminist interpretations of religion for ensuring justice and equality.
The BMMA believes in working towards understanding and ameliorating the marginalization, backwardness and insecurity of the Muslim community and help Muslim women their voice for justice. It works towards empowering and mobilizing Muslim women and taking steps to ensure their social, economic, political, civil, and legal and religions and human rights. The BMMA wants to take forward the process of legal reforms within the Muslim personal law and assess the possibilities of reforms within this law. It also seeks to undertake and propagate positive and liberal interpretations of Quran which are in consonance with principles of justice, equality and protection of human rights. The BMMA wants to document and record the historical, political and social contribution of Muslim women to strengthen the movement. It wants to understand the caste based hierarchies and marginalization of dalit Muslims and to take steps for social justice and equality. BMMA opposes injustice in all forms. BMMA supports mutual religious respect, peace, social harmony and human rights. BMMA seeks to create an alternative voice of Muslim women with the belief that Muslim women themselves can lead the movement towards equality and social justice.
The movement being a national alliance carries out its activities though an informal national structure with a system of accountability. It addresses the issues of education, employment, security, health and legal reforms and takes proactive and concrete steps on each of these. It not only works at the grassroots on these issues but also does political advocacy to raise issues at appropriate fora. It joins hands with other movements for social justice so that the poor and the oppressed can come together and collectively fight for their rights. The BMMA has been actively working in 15 states namely Maharashtra, Gujarat,Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Orissa, Rajasthan, Telangana and West Bengal. We have presence in Kerala, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. As already mentioned, the Muslim community is extremely backward socially, economically and educationally. BMMA focuses on the issue of education, livelihood, health, social security and law reform. It mobilizes Muslim women at the grassroots and advocates for changes by acting as pressure groups. The activists of the BMMA present their plight before the local authorities and demand for immediate action.
The BMMA works through a well-organized democratic structure. It is headed by the National Council which comprises of the co-founders as well as the state leaders. The important programmatic and administrative decisions are taken in the National Council. The state leaders in turn undertake activities and programs to strengthen the districts. The approach is two-pronged; to mobilize and organize Muslim women at the grassroots and through them advocate for change. The National Council meets every 3 months to share its work and take decisions on important matters. Perspective building meetings are held to develop the capacities of the women activists. Press and public meetings are held to bring visibility to the functioning of the Andolan.
The National Council which is the highest decision making body of BMMA comprises of the following women at the state and national level.
- Maharashtra, State Convener, Khatoon Shaikh
- Tamil Nadu, State Convener, Jeibunnisa R
- Madhya Pradesh, State Convener, Safia Akhtar
- Odisha, State Convener, Farhat Amin
- Nishat Husein, State Convener, Rajasthan
- Karnataka, State Convener, Nasreen M
- Rahima Khatoon, State Convener, West Bengal
- Niyazmeen, Contact Person, Delhi
- S.Q Masood, Contact Person, Telangana
- Nasreen Jamaal, Contact Person, Jharkhand
- Akhtari Begum, Contact Person, Bihar.
- Shabina, Contact Person, Kerala
- Qudsia Anjum, Contact Person, Uttar Pradesh
- Amena Khatun/ Kulsum, Contact Persons, Gujarat
Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Safia Niaz
- ACHIEVEMENTS AND MILESTONES
Given below are the important achievements of BMMA in the last 10 years
- Established seven Karwaan Centres across different cities for economic empowerment of women and girls
- Campaign for implementation of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee Report
- Formation of groups of young Muslim girls and boys for their overall empowerment and development.
- Prepared and published draft Muslim Family Law.
- Prepared and published gender-just nikaahnama.
- Three publications of more than 250 testimonies of victims of unilateral divorce.
- National study Seeking Justice Within Family: Muslim Womens’ Views on Reforms in Muslim Personal Laws was published in 2015.
- We conducted a Study People at the Margins: Whose Budgets? Whose Rights? Locating Muslim Women in Indian Policy along with UNWomen and Ford Foundation
- We contributed to a national study Broken Promises, A Study on the Socio-economic Status of Indian Muslims: Seven Years Post Sachar published by Centre for Peace Studies and Action Aid Association
- Regular Publication of educational material especially booklets on rights of women in the Quran.
- Filed  and won petition  in Mumbai High Court and Supreme Court to demand entry of women in Haji Ali mazaar.
- Filed petition in Supreme Court against the practice of unilateral divorce and nikah halala.
- We run Auraton ki shariah adalats in four cities to help women get justice in family matters
- Established Darul Uloom-e-Niswaan to train women to become qazis
- Through various efforts we have successfully informed the Indian public that gender justice is a fundamental principle of Islam
- Our membership crossed 100,000 members in December 2014
- We submitted a memorandum to the National Commission for Women signed by 50,000 women calling for abolition of triple talaq in 2016
- Several of our leaders have consistently received recognition in civil society through different awards and prizes
At the First Inaugural Convention, the distinguished speakers highlighted the importance of this event and pledged their support to the cause of the Andolan. In his very enlightened speech, Prof. Imtiaz Ahmed, noted social scientist expressed that although in many ways Muslim women are similar to other women, their religious identity sets them apart. He also warned against the dangers of communal politics of the Hindu and Muslim fundamental forces who emphasise and fester the differences between the two communities. Seema Mustafa, senior journalist made a very valid point about the continuous unchanged stereotypical image of a Muslim woman in the media. Her other identities are submerged in this unilateral image. The policy of discrimination particularly affects the community and among them woman are the most affected. In the convention the following resolution was passed:
To enable the Muslim community to attain full citizenship, we demand:
- An enabling socio-economic and political environment to achieve full human potential.
- Participation of Muslim community in the mainstream education.
- Immediate halt to the persecution of Muslim community on the pretext of curbing terrorism.
- Reforms and humanistic approach in personal laws with community participation and support for justice to women.
- Economic policies to be reviewed to account for loss of livelihood of marginalized class owing to the impact of neo-liberalization, globalization, privatization, imperialism and capitalism.
The above stated factors have led to total deprivation, suppression and violence of women in society. Hence women should be at the centre of all policy making and BMMA will strive to build women’s leadership and make their voices heard on all these issues at all levels.
The 2nd Annual National Convention of the BMMA was in Delhi at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts on 27th November 2008. The Convention was attended by approximately 1000 Muslim women from 15 states across the country. A very distinguished panel of speakers including Dr. Tahir Mehmood, Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyer, Mr. Babu Mathew, Fr. Cedric Prakash, Prof. Ram Punyani, Prof. Madhu Khanna, Mr. Kamal Chinoy and Ms. Sadia Dehlvi, Ms Mohni Giri, Ms. Haseena Ansari attended the Convention. On this momentous occasion,the website of the Andolan was launched.
The 3rd Annual National Convention of the Andolan was held on 9th October 2009 in Lucknow. Titled ‘When Will We Become Full Citizens’, the Convention was addressed by Ms. Sehba Farooqui, member of All India Democratic Women’s Association, Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, member of the Muslim Personal Law Board and religious leader of the Shia community mentioned that all institutions must make space for women; it is only then that true development will take place. He challenged the All India Muslim Personal Law Board to reserve 30% seats for women in the Board. Member of the Education Committee of the Planning Commission, Prof. Sabera Habib remarked that this Andolan must move towards becoming a people’s movement so the voice of the Muslim women reaches the Parliament. The highlight of the convention was the state and district leaders of the Andolan who presented their state reports. These reports hold a special significance as it contained the experiences of Muslim women when they contacted the government officials to know about the steps being taken by them to reach out to the Muslim community, especially in the context of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee report.
The 4th Annual Convention of the Andolan was held in Ahmedabad in 2010. The key note address was delivered by Swami Agnivesh, noted scholar and activist. Other speakers included Javed Anand from Muslims for Secular Democracy, Sheeba Aslam Fehmi, noted journalist and a writer, Harinesh Pandya, RTI activist, Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Safia Niaz. More than 800 women from across the country attended the Convention. In the Convention resolutions to advocate for implementation of recommendations of Sachar Committee report, to demand codification of Muslim personal law.
The 5th Annual Convention was held in Kolkatta in March 2011 where over 200 women from different states participated.
In 2012, as part of the 6th Annual Convention, a national public hearing of women who were unilaterally divorced was held in Mumbai. A publication of compilation of 68 case studies of women who were thus divorced was released. More than 20 women from across the states of the country narrated their personal stories of instant divorce and abandonment. The Convention passed a resolution that BMMA will continue with its demand for abolition of unilateral divorce and will work towards codification of Muslim Family Law based on Quranic and Constitutional values and principles.
In 2013, the 7th Annual Convention of BMMA was held in Bhopal. The state leaders of BMMA presented their activities in their respective states. Eminent persons from the city of Bhopal attended the convention.
The 8th Annual Convention of BMMA was held in Chennai. It was attended by a large number of women from Tamil Nadu. Adv. Bader Sayeed, Sharifa Khanum and other dignitaries attended the Convention. A resolution was passed that Muslim women must get their Quranic rights and discrimination that they face in their daily lives must end.
In 2015, during the 9th Annual Convention, ‘No More Talaak, Talaak, Talaak’- a compilation of over 100 testimonies of victims of unilateral divorce was released in Delhi. Some of the survivors narrated their stories in person and called for abolition of triple talak.
In its 10th year celebrations, BMMA on 1st December 2016 again held a public hearing of victims of unilateral divorce in Mumbai. Close to 20 women from across the country narrated their ordeal in person. A compilation of testimonies of victims of unilateral divorce was released. A 10 year report of BMMA was released along with the narration of the journey of Muslim women, their trials, tribulations, challenges and achievements.
- CITIZENSHIP AND BMMA
While BMMA has campaigned with the state to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee report through submissions and signature campaigns, it has also carried multiple activities for the social, educational, economic and political development of not just the Muslim women but also of the community at large. Given below are the activities undertaken in this regard.
Education and Child Rights
BMMA has always given priority to education. Many activities to foster the literacy and educational awareness were carried out in all the centres of BMMA. The work in the field of education in various states in last ten years is highlighted below:
In the Mumbai unit, young needy boys from ages 16 to 25 received driving training; many women attended the career guidance festival called ‘Ummeed Mela’ which was organized by Yuva Parivartan; school students were given aid for education; students were given note books from the MLA’s fund, and by Yuva Foundation; children were provided books with support from organizations like Al-Madad Committee, Sahara and Anjuman-e-Islam; children were helped to get admission in schools; girls were enrolled for computer class.. Apart from this in the year 2011, Yuva Foundation had organized a felicitation program of students for their performance in 10th, 12th and Graduation. The students were given trophies and bouquets. The area leaders of BMMA supported and coordinated the entire event. 300 students attended the programme and students are provided support for fees from Mahila Bal Samiti (2011). Letters were placed before BMC to complain about the inconveniences of students and to seek solutions to their problems. Department of Distance Education of the SNDT Women’ University, Mumbai was requested to introduce Urdu as one more medium of instruction along with Hindi, English, Marathi and Guajarati. More than 75 women could take admission for graduation through the efforts of the Andolan in the year 2007 and 6 women took admission for senior college through SNDT Women’s University’s Distance Education Programme. (2011)
BMMA Unit has collaborated with the Minority Development Department to help students of minority community to access government scholarship. Although majority of the students are Muslims, however students from the other minority groups are also supported. The Units of Mumbai and Maharashtra submitted application forms to the Directorate of Technical Education and Directorate of Higher Education for scholarships.
The students from overseas were placed with BMMA to study the living conditions of Muslims in Mumbai. They were supported by the BMMA unit in their research. The students of College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan are placed for carrying out research on BMMA. Research Centre for Women’s Study of SNDT Women’s University also was supported by BMMA to conduct a survey of Behrampada community. The students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences have been placed with BMMA since last 5-6 years. BMMA also supported CEHAT to do a study on health concerns of Muslim women in Behrampada community as well as supporting another research on socio economic status of Muslim women in Mumbai. A student from Geneva was placed with BMMA, who is conducting a study to understand the issue of secularism and the challenges before the Muslim women’s movement in India. Some students of Sophia College did a report on the experiences of Muslim women during the communal violence of 1992-93. Students of PG diploma and MA from Centre of Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, SNDT University paid visit to the BMMA Unit to understand the exclusion of Muslim women within the Muslim community and within the larger society.
BMMA in collaboration with Angan organization has initiated a 13 week long empowerment programme for adolescent girls. The girls are given training in gender, relationship management, and self-awareness. Classes and exposure visits were also organized. (2010)
In the state of Rajasthan, BMMA members participated in the seminar, under which discussions were done for the protection of the children, who are living at the railway station. The draft of the bill for protection of children was discussed in the seminar. Members defended the innocent accused of the Ajmer bomb blast. It was resolved in the meeting by many human rights and women rights organizations along with BMMA that actual culprit should be booked immediately and innocent Muslims should be released. Department of Social Justice and UNICEF organized a one day seminar on finalization of provisions for protection of child rights. It was attended by the BMMA members along with other organizations. BMMA continues to campaign for awareness about the girl’s education and admissions in the school was accelerated by active BMMA group members. Meetings were convened with the police administration, Women’s Commission and Women and Child Department for the protection of rights of women. In the year 2015, Vandana Foundation conducted vocational training for 40 women which included English speaking, basics of computer, hotel management etc. 14 girls/boys from Bandra (W), 10 girls from Bandra (E) and 1 from Santacruz were admitted in Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University for 12th standard equivalent exams in August; 10 children were granted scholarship from J.N. Modi Trust, Malad and a girl was granted a scholarship of Rs.12000 from Rangoonwala Foundation in August; 4 children were referred to the Seema Khatib Trust in Andheri. A training session on making and marketing of Diwali products was held in Pune. Tutorial classes were arranged.
In the state of Chhattisgarh meetings with District Urdu school teachers and staffwas conducted regularly to monitor the problems of Muslim student. Painting workshops like “Our Role in Harmony and Social Integrity” for the school students; essay and prose competition on “Role of women in peace establishment” for college girls; workshops on implementation of the recommendation of Sachar Report; seminar on ‘Quran and Women’s Rights’ were organized. Bridge tuition classes for the girls of higher secondary schools; campaigns on ‘No Drop Out of the Muslim Girls for 8th, 10th and 12th students, schemes on providing cycles; technical coaching for girls are regularly organized. (2007)
In the state of Gujarat books sponsored by Seerat, Lokhit and Islami Committee were distributed to needy children. Also efforts were made to re-admit children who dropped out of school. (2007) Enrolment of girl children has been regularly undertaken by the state unit in Gujarat apart from regular meetings with parents to drive home the importance of educating the girl child.
In Odisha special coaching classes of class 5 and 6 in Mathematics and English for Muslim girls were conducted. Out of these students 10 got Post-Matric Scholarship from the state government in the year 2010. We conduct awareness camps on law, rights and health regularly. Through various informal schools in villages and basti areas we are trying to engage drop out students in education and eventually enroll them in IGNOU courses. We also impart computer training under NCPUL [Govt. of India] course. Girls ‘Puppet Team’ was formed to spread awareness on the issues of community. In the year 2015 as many as 140 drop-out students got admitted in schools. As part of its mandate to raise awareness on higher education, the Orissa chapter of BMMA organized a programme on the new RTE guidelines on 11th, 12th,and 13th Aug 2015 with MARGin three different schools of Cuttack. More than 250 parents and teachers participated in this programme.
In the state of Tamilnadu, Education Scholarships under Minority Programme for school children were sought. Women’s groups in all the three districts participated in lobbying at district level with Backward Classes Department under the Minorities programme. As a result of this lobbying as many as 200 students could apply for scholarships in Dindigul district in 2010. In one of our programmes Ms. Jeibu Nisha shared her experiences of working with children’s parliament as part of the governance in local PRIs. She stressed the need for making the children to be better leaders of tomorrow.
Similarly MP among various other works with women and children towards accessing their basic entitlements in the state also helped four girls get a scholarship in IGNOU in diploma in nutrition, Urdu language and certificate programme in food & nutrition in year 2015.
A loose network of organizations working on the issue of education has been regularly held in Mumbai. The organization involved are BMMA, Hukook-e-Niswan Sanghatana, NEEDs, Muslims for Secular Democracy, Idrisi Association, Bombay Catholic Sabha, MESCO, Uncle’s Classes and others who meet regularly to help students avail of government scholarships especially meant for students from the minority community. To create awareness was spread in the localities of Navpada, Behrampada, Kherwadi, Chita Camp, Dowri nagar. Forms were distributed and the students were helped to fill up those forms and attach relevant documents with it. These forms were submitted at the respective departments by our activists. This network also is collaborating with the Maulana Azad Financial Corporation [MAFC] for implementing employment loan schemes for the minorities. The Corporation also facilitates the formation of SHGs of Muslim women.
Employment and Livelihood
In MP a survey of 150 families was conducted; a vocational training was conducted for six months and 60 women were trained in tailoring; The Centre conducted an orientation on gender, labour rights and women’s rights in the Quran for 60 women; It also conducted sessions to enlighten women on government schemes for them; hosted conducted exhibition in the month of February on clothes designed by women from the centre. Here were exhibited455 pieces stitched by 42 trainees with nearly 120 designs.
Vocational Training on Bridal make up for brides and groom was also part of the Kaarwan training at Odisha. In addition meeting was held to facilitate and support self-employment: 70 to 80 boys, women and girls participated in this meeting where all the participants shared their views and discussed their challenges. Employer’s sensitization: 50 community members, leaders, volunteers, co-coordinators participated in this programme.
BMMA in Odisha facilitated training on different skills for women, girls and boys from the Kaarvan Center, Cuttack. Training on making paper bags, paper envelops, kitchen gardening, paper Thonga, Saya stitching, embroidery, xerox repairing etc. 600 boys, girls and women learnt these activities. About 50 women are doing their own business and 40 boys are doing part-time work in the press etc.
Most of our projects and programmes in Odisha are based on income generating schemes and awareness. Here BMMA volunteers have made efforts to get the order to supply lunch packets to Big Bazar’s employees in Cuttack. 10 women got a platform to sell their home made products. Muslim women are supported to start their own businesses. Young Muslim girls are doing marketing of thongas and paper bags. It was for the first time that the young Muslim girls came out of their houses and went from shop to shop for marketing of thongas. Exhibitions are held every year to empower Muslim women. Now the Muslim women are getting the orders of Iftar from 2 mosques. This was for the first time that the mosque management committee has bought Iftar for the whole month of Ramzaan from a social organization.
Women are encouraged to form SHGs and thereby informed about the various employment and vocational trainings and projects. Besides this, a few vocational training centres in the name of ‘Khawateen’ impart training in tailoring, embroidery, and computers. Our tailoring students have got their first stitching assignment to stitch school uniform of an Urdu medium school. Women from slums and drop-out girls were engaged in the year 2009 to prepare Iftar during Ramzaan. We also organize a “pay and eat Iftar” for non-Muslims to generate some fund for the organization.
In the state of Rajasthan, a state level workshop was organized under the guidance of Ms. Aruna Roy for discussing the problems of implementation of NREGA. Members of BMMA attended the meeting. As a result of this rights of Sarpanch and BDO were curtailed and powers were given to Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat to audit the account of NREGA. (2010)
In Madhya Pradesh, to alleviate poverty and unemployment a tiffin centre was started wherein women were employed and which led them to earn their livelihood. Stitching, embroidery, making jute articles were taught to them so that they can grab employment opportunities easily.
In our Delhi unit, in collaboration with Nazreth Mahila committee we conducted awareness programmes and information about employment opportunities and Governmental schemes for the women were disseminated which was followed by a discussion. In collaboration with Shahri Adhikar Manch, BMMA facilitated the process of shifting footpath dwellers to government homes due to intense cold. We also provided relief work in the slum community in Gazipur where 250 hutments were burnt down due to short circuit.
In Mumbai, we provide vocational skills training to young Muslim girls. In the year 2010, as many as 37 girls completed the Mehndi course and have further enrolled themselves for sewing classes. Jewellery making in collaboration with YUVA Parivartan was undertaken. In collaboration with WIT, we provided training and markets for goods prepared by Muslim women. Training programmes were organized by Navjeet Community Centre on the management of SHGs. 2-month training was organized by Swadhar on saving and budgeting. These courses attract young girls to the centre and we can also conduct gender training sessions with them.35 women attached to the BMMA unit of Mumbai attended this training programme. As a follow up of this meeting, 63 women were able to open a zero-balance account in the Citibank. Some of them have also got loan for self-employment. SHGs which were formed by State Bank of India were given loan of Rs. 50,000 each.
In all the 4 wards of Osmanabad city where the Andolan is active, stitching classes have been started in the year 2010. SHGs were also formed in Malegaon through Maulana Azad Financial Corporation for getting loan for small businesses.
In Tamil Nadu, EDP training was given to 24 women members who were also trained on the importance of self-employment, need for skills towards self-employment to eradicate their own poverty and to ensure the education and good health of their children. Through this, women were mostly prepared to be able to get involved in tailoring and garment business. (2015)
In Madhya Pradesh Karavaan centre, individuals are trained to learn tailoring, sewing and embroidery work. A trained teacher helps students learn tailoring and sewing. Students learn to stitch garments and linen, embroider and even design outfits. Products made by students are regularly displayed and sold at art and craft exhibitions organized locally. Young girls are encouraged to learn Mehendi application and earn during the festive season; we also conduct Spoken English classes.
To showcase the skills of the Kaarwan centre participants, an exhibition named ‘Jauhar’ was organized on 27th October, 2015. The kurtas stitched by them were on sale. The exhibition was a huge success as the turnover was very commendable and was highly appreciated.
Another five-day exhibition of kurtas called ‘Pause for a Cause’ was organized at the Bhopal-based Galaxy Plaza, Ibrahimpura from 23rd February to 27th February 2016. Table mats, books and associated products, household accessories like trays, lanterns were all on display which were designed by trainees of Bhopal Karwaan Center. The clothes ranged from kurtis and tunics to Anarkali suits. Anarkali suits could be found in hues at the collar and detailed patterns were worth appreciating.
Three month Tailoring Training to women on cutting and dress making was given to 60 women leaders in Vedasendore Dindigul. This included cutting and dress making. Among the trained women, 25 are doing a tailoring job independently in their homes today and earning Rs. 2000 to 3000 per month. 4 members joined retails shops and the remaining are waiting to purchase sewing machine. BMMA in Tamil Nadu is doing continuous facilitations to ensure 100% outcome. Certificates were also distributed to the qualified persons and many women used these certificates to get sewing machines from the district minority welfare department, the applications for which are in process.
In Gujarat the BMMA set up a centre for womens’ economic empowerment in Sarkhej area of Ahmedabad. We received 10 sewing machines in donations from various organizations. Girls and women were given training for dress-making and marketing of the products. Special care was taken to involve riot survivor women to participate in livelihood training activities. Efforts were undertaken to help these women get identity cards specially Aadhar cards through a special enrolment drive.
In 2010, to discuss the issues of the reproductive health rights, problems of hygiene, maternal and child health, breast feeding, contraceptive methods, family planning of Muslim women in the Rajasthan community doctors were invited to impart the information.
From a household survey in Odisha it was found out that a substantial portion of the community complains of hearing problem. In order to address this issue, a health screening camp on deafness was organized by BMMA. Two health camps on anaemia were organized where blood test of 110 girl students was done. Approximately 25 per cent girls were detected anemic and free medicines were distributed. The resource person also educated the girls about the side effects of being anaemic and advised them to take good care of their health.
Two days training with adolescents group on health and hygiene was organized. 93 participants were trained in 3 batches. The Unit ensured discussion of the same with their groups in monthly meeting.
2 Health Camps were organized by Dr.Iqbal and Dr. Anand Das. Total registration in the camp was 230 which included children, adolescents and women. Follow up for the referral to nearest government hospitals and medical college. (2011)
In Mumbai PHCs are inspected regularly for their facilities; women were given medical aid; people were facilitated in getting aid from Navjeet Community Centre; 6 people got their eye operation done in a medical camp organized by Lions Club in 2010. Medical aid of Rs. 3000 was arranged for a heart patient (2011). Regular health camps are held wherein so far 250 persons have benefitted from the free check up in the medical camp.
As part of our advocacy programme, a brief survey of health facility was done in the area of Behrampada and Navpada. A film show on TB was organized by the Unit in collaboration with the Navjeet Community Centre [NCC]. A study on problems related to BMC hospitals was done in collaboration with CEHAT [Centre for Health and Allied Themes] in communities of Ghas Bazaar, Behrampada, Navpada and Lal Mitti. A health awareness meeting on the importance of protein in our diet was also organized in collaboration with NCC which was attended by 55 women.
A health camp was organized by BMMA in collaboration with the PVT Polytechnic of SNDT Women’s University. 67 women took advantage of this camp which was conducted to measure haemoglobin, hyper tension, diabetes and eye check-up. The BMMA activists attended 3 meetings organized by Holy Family. The meetings were training programmes on communication skills, law and health concerns of women.
In Odisha, Health camp on anaemia was held at Batamangla Sahi, Cuttack. Dr. Sanghamitra Pati from South Asian Institute of Health Promotion, Orissa spoke to 53 Muslim women. Out of 53 Muslim women 23 of them are anaemic and these women were given medicine free of cost. A health camp on hearing was held at the Health Clinic Screening Camp at Idgah Cuttack in collaboration with Pratibandh Kalyan Kendra (PKK) Bhubaneswar. 100 Muslim and Dalit women participated respectively. (2010)
Street campaigns on removal of garbage was undertaken at Ilayangudi, Sivagangai district of Tamilnadu. A rally in relays was done in the streets sensitizing the public about the hazards of garbage. A memorandum was also presented to the civic authorities for removal of garbage.
Free health check-up camp, free cataract camps were organized in Ahmedabad by the state unit in collaboration with Red Cross Society and some philanthropic individuals. Regular liaison is being done with hospitals such as VS Hospital, Sarvajanik Hospital, Iqra Hospital for low cost medicines for women from poor backgrounds as well as for emergency help to old women who cannot afford treatment.
Hospital visits to Kherwadi health post, Kherwadi dispensary, Kalina health and Sundernagar dispensary, VN Desai hospital, Bharatnagar hospital to assess the changes made in them after we received letter from the ward office. Similar visits were made in other areas as well. Meeting with drug addicted parents & advised them to consult Krupa Foundation. Contact regarding drug addiction. School survey of various schools was conducted and reports were prepared. Health camps were organised in Golibar, Ambewadi, Shastri colony and Masjid galli, Sahlani School, Kherwadi, Khar East and Navpada. Public hearing and press conference with Jan Swasthya Abhiyan to present cases of denial and negligence related to health services in private and public hospitals. Presentations were done before the National Human Rights Commission. 2 trainings in Golibar on anaemia. Total 51 girls were present and one FGD was held on case study of Bhabha Hospital regarding its health facilities, total 15 women were present. Training on sexual abuse and women’s rights, Gender training was held with women doing domestic work Navpada and Bharatnagar.
Law Reform and Women’s Rights
The recent spate of crimes against women has made women’s safety a priority among all BMMA activities. Participants in different programs have shown a willingness to learn more about how to keep themselves and their friends and families safe.
Gujarat unit conducted awareness meetings on, “Importance of Politics and Women’s Participation”; literacy classes for women and successfully completed a course in counselling for women in domestic violence matters. The unit regularly works in collaboration with Womens’ Cell, lawyers, police stations to help women in distress find urgent help and support.
The Rajasthan Unit along with other state units demanded that the long pending issue of reservation for women in the Parliament must be immediately implemented. BMMA also stated that once the Bill is passed in the present form efforts must be made to make provisions wherein women from marginalized sections like the Dalit and Muslim women are also able to take benefit of the reservation. Meetings were held in Jaipur city to highlight the Constitutional, religious and human rights of the Muslim women. In order to take them into confidence and to take their support, meetings were held with religious groups. Activities of the Andolan are going on in Ajmer, Jodhpur, Bhilwara, Tonk, Sikar, Jhunjhuna and Nagaur in the year 2007. BMMA convened a meeting of eminent persons in Jaipur to stress on the rights of Muslim women in the Quran as well as in the Constitution. Clergy, administrators, lawyers, journalists and politicians attended this meeting. The attendance of so many eminent people indicated the impact of BMMA in Rajasthan (2010). A dharna was organized at Badi Chopad for pressuring the Parliament to pass the 33% reservation bill. BMMA was part of the fact finding committee which looked into the communal events in Udaipur. BMMA and the PUCL along with other organizations prepared an exhaustive report to highlight the atrocities against the Muslims. (2010)
Madhya Pradesh BMMA unit and other Muslim and non-Muslim organizations organized a rally on 15th April 2010 from Yadgaar Shahjani Park to Neelam Park. More than 200 women participated in this rally. This rally was supported by Rashtriya Secular Manch, Peoples Union for Civil Liberty, Yuva Samvad, Jan Natya Manch and New Sameera Samvedna Samithi, IWID, Ashna (WRC), PRS. This rally converted into a public meeting which was addressed by Shri L.S. Hardaniya, Smt. Nusrat Bano Ruhi from Rashtriya Mahila Federation, Shri Shailendra Shailey from Pragatisheel Lekhak Sangh, Hameeda Bee from Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sanghatan, Smt Shubra Pachori from Human Right Law Network, Smt Saarika from Action Aid, Shri S.K. Namdeev from Gas Peedit Mahila Pensioner Sangarsh Morcha, and Smt. Meerai Singh from New Sameera Samvedna Samiti. All of them emphasized that the reservation bill should be passed without any delay. Since women form 50% of the population they should get their rights. In fact women from all strata should get their rights.
The Tamil Nadu Unit of BMMA organized a rally in support of the Bill. This rally was held at Ramanand, district head quarter. About 350 women from 30 villages of Ramanand and Sivagangai Districts participated in the rally in the year 2010. The women groups resolved that a minimum of 20 women from each district will contest in elections of panchayats.
BMMA has also given opportunity to Muslim women to take on leadership roles in their community. They are encouraged to visit the Collectorate, local ration office, police station and other government institutions with their demands. Some leaders have picked up the responsibilities fast, while others are still learning.
BMMA understands the importance of working with the community, especially Muslim women, young girls and boys and assisting them in their daily struggles of benefiting from government schemes and entitlements. The various state units, apart from working on codification of MPL and assisting victims of triple talaq etc, are also deeply invested in assisting communities in enhancing life skills, getting access to rations, scholarships, and health facilities among others. There have been a lot of achievements for the various state units in the past two years on issues ranging from health to supporting democratic rights. For instance, in Mumbai in Behrampada each lane a group of 10 houses were got together and each group was provided with a tap connection from BMC. These lanes now get BMC water. Many taps have been installed. We regularly get the toilets and gutter cleaned by BMC. We with the help of the Corporator made 4 lanes within the community. Applications have been submitted for making voters I-cards (2007); we also supervise ration shops to find out the quality and quantity of ration. Many people have got senior citizen cards made through BMMA’s initiatives. Now women are opening their bank accounts in Central bank of India whose bank documents were destroyed in the Garibnagar fire. The 25 victims of this fire tragedy got compensation of Rs. 5000 each from the Collector’s office. This year nearly 128 people were helped in filing application for domicile certificate. We are regularly helping the community to make their PAN cards and widow pension cards, ration cards as well as forms under the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojna are being submitted. In the area where BMMA is active, 100 women were mobilized to take out a morcha and demand for passes be issued for MMRDA toilets. For each visit to the toilet one person has to pay Rs. 2 but a monthly pass will cost only Rs.30/. Now passes for MMRDA toilets are being issued. We also organized a citizens group to the Nagar Palika and got 10 street lamps fixed. (2011)
In all 26 visits were done to the local ration shop for supervision and monitoring of quality and quantity of ration and to continue to apply pressure on the ration shop owner. (2011) In Mumbai RTI application was filed to know the reasons for suspension of ration cards, quota of ration allocated to each ration shop and the names of ration card holder in each ration shop. The Unit received the reply to its queries. Several Mohalla Committee meeting are being held in the locality on regular basis. The BMMA members have also enrolled themselves in the Jhopadpatti Panchayat formed by the police in the Nirmal Nagar police station, Bandra. (2007)
Nearly 75 young boys and 150 young girls were trained on ‘Rights of Women in Islam’; Resource Centre-cum-Library was opened in Golibar; 6000 signatures against the beef ban submitted in the CM’s office; Mobilizing 80 individuals for a programme to denounce the exclusion of secular and socialist from the constitution. We organized a dharna at the Azad Maidan to protest against the talk by some BJP ministers to change the Constitution. A public hearing and press conference with Jan Swasthya Abhiyan was done to present cases of denial and negligence related to health services in private and public hospitals. Presentations were done before the National Human Rights Commission.
In 2014 in Maharashtra, a lot of work related to entitlements, health and other issues was carried out, such as : Various meetings were held to check ration shops; meetings on PDS were conducted in Bharatnagar, Behrampada and Navpada in February. Ration Controller office was visited in February to attend a public hearing on the ration issue. The problems faced were put forward during the hearing; Forms were taken from MAFC for education and personal loan. Loan forms were given out to 10 people; 100 forms for hawker’s license were distributed in Navapda, Bharatnagar, Behrampada, Kalina and Mahim in February; a Gas Cylinder Morcha was taken out to the Collectors office along with 100 women from Kalina, Bharatnagar, Navpada, Pipeline, and Garibnagar. Submission to Collector’s office to Mr. Shivaji Patil for reduction in gas prices, removing the ill-thought out subsidy process and increase the number of cylinders.
In Osmanabad most families did not even had a basic document like a ration card as a result they couldn’t avail of cheap food grains from the PDS. In the year 2010 nearly 30 women could get a ration card.
In Odisha, an IEC material on government entitlements like Public Distribution System and pension schemes was published. The purpose was to make women aware about their rights and demand the same from the state. Through the IEC material they could know what they are entitled to and how much as well as from where they can get the fair priced commodities, and whom to contact in case of problems. Similarly the IEC material on pension schemes carries information about who are eligible to get old age, widow, disabled pension, etc.
In, Sivagangai district of Tamilnadu, in the year 2010, nearly 385 persons were benefited with OAP, ID cards, ration cards; 143 were benefited with OAP, ID cards, Ration cards in Dindigul district; 120 women and men obtained OAP, ration cards, ID cards, community certificates in Ramnad district. For availing Economic Assistance under Minorities Development Corporation, applications for loan assistance under TAMCO are being submitted during last year and follow up is made.
Since last 3 years BMMA activities are being conducted in full swing in the Saagar district of the Raahatgadh Sector in Madhya Pradesh. This area has the largest Muslim population, about 95 percent of which cannot fully utilize the basic amenities that they deserve. They should be given a work card which they can utilize for availing facilities like health, accommodation, child bearing and rearing, oldage benefits, insurance policies, monetary aide during marriage and also free education and 12 other benefits for their wards. But unfortunately they couldn’t utilize these facilities. However, in the span of 3 months 2000 cards were made. And many more need to be made. A campaign was initiated to get the worker’s eye test and supplying them with the required treatment and spectacles. About 19 people were given and promised disaster compensation of about 700 rupees each in the year 2011.
In Odisha in the year 2014, nearly 100 BMMA members opened an account in a bank under the Prime Minister’s Scheme, 15 members got benefit of the Mamta Scheme (Through this scheme they get Rs.5000/- in three instalments after pregnancy), 7 members got Janani Suraksha cards (Through this scheme they are get Rs.2000/- immediately after pregnancy),11 BPL card holders got electricity connection in their houses, 4 women were given livelihood support. In order to educate the community about the availability of government provisions, we organized a community mobilizing meeting. About 30 community members participated in the workshop where the resource persons educated the participants on various government entitlements such as ration card, private toilet for every household in urban areas, adhere card among other things.
Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, in 2014 alone, we were able to get NREGA IDs, marriage support to poor women, name change in ration cards, community certificate to school children, name change correction in school TC, disabled person ID Card, Labour Welfare Board scholarships for children, toilet construction and application for subsidy, new ration card applications, old age pension cards, a separate ration shop, provision of street light, drinking water provision, birth certificates, a construction of additional class room, a school, Sewing machine distribution, reenrolment of dropout girl children Continuous facilitation and lobbying with government officials was done to access entitlement. Campaigns were done to avail basic amenities such as water facility, transport and drainage problems at Mettupatti, Rajakkapatti and Marunoothu.
In 2014, Karnataka held a State convention on “Muslim women for Democracy and Secularism” in Bijapur in collaboration with Nyaya Chawadi women group in which 200 women participated. The state unit supported the community in getting ID cards, 15 members applied for ration cards, 22 member got voter Id, 2 members applied for Udyogini scheme. We raised awareness on the PM 15 point programme and distributed an informative book on the same to women of 4 different areas. In 2015 the Karnataka unit of BMMA organized the domestic workers group in Moregeri and S.L. Chowkimohalla, and held a dialogue with labour department on labour schemes along with meetings organized with labour department officers for women labourers and was involved in sending the applications for labour card for availing various facilities.
Outreach and Networking
The BMMA Maharashtra Unit has supported various campaigns initiated by other organizations through e-endorsements. Some of the campaigns supported by us are: the proper implementation of the Rajiv Awas Yojna of Urban Housing Ministry of the GOI; Support to residents of Annabhau Sathe Nagar slum community which was to be demolished. The endorsement condemned the unholy nexus between the builders, bureaucrats and politicians. The Unit also sent a demand to the Standing Committee for detailed consultation on the Nuclear Liability Bill. In its current form the Bill lets foreign corporations get away by paying a small compensatory amount in case of a nuclear accident. The Bill needs to be changed on this account.
Mumbai unit represented at various forums like Maulana Azad Vichar Manch, National Minority Commission, Police Parivartan Dal, and Rashtriya Bihar Mahila Mandal. The Andolan has also offered support to members of the Mehtar community who held a Dharna to highlight their issues. It also participated in a rally organized to demand the implementation of the Shri Krishna Report.
The BMMA Unit has been working closely with organizations namely, NEEDS, Muslims For Secular Democracy, Idrisi Association, All India Backward Classes Association, LEARN-Ghar Kamgaar Sanghatana, Molkarni Ghar Kamgaar Sanghatana, Ration Kruti Samiti, Navjeet Community Centre, Parishramalay, Ghar Hakka Samiti, Dilaasa, RCWS Department, Distance Education Department and Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy Department of SNDT Women’s University, Swadhar bank, Ujwal Bank, Aangan, YUVA Parivartan, YUVA Foundation, CEHAT, CORO, WIT, Mohalla Movement Trust, SAHARA, Anjuman-e-Islam, MAVIM, MAFC, MMC Trust, Al-Madad Committee, Muslim Samanvay Samiti, Jan Jagruti, Jagruti Kendra, Kotak Foundation, Satyawadi Foundation. (2010)
The Orissa government is proposing 300 ports in the eco-sensitive zones. One such port at Dhamra is being proposed at a site which is close to dense mangrove forests. The Unit supported a demand to introduce a clause which prohibits new ports and expansion of existing ones near eco-sensitive areas under the new CRZ notification. The Unit also supported the demand for withdrawal of genetic modification legislation called by the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India. We also endorsed the call for Renewable Energy which the Green Peace is campaigning for in the country.
The National Council of BMMA endorsed the petition demanding release of Binayak Sen in Uttar Pradesh a Media outreach on the issue of Nandigram, Shravasti case, against the Allahabad High Court judgment was held. Protest against the Sharavasti communal violence case; Public meetings were held in Muzaffarpur, Saharanpur, Fatehpur and Banda. On the Human Rights Day, for the enforcement of democracy and justice, a march was organized. Demonstration was held to condemn the gang rape of 17 women at Shravasti.
Rally to demand 33% reservation for women was attended by the district conveners of Maharashtra too. 25 district and Taluka the conveners from Osmanabad, Beed, Nasik, Malegaon, Aurangabad attended the rally. On 14 April, a day before the rally, a full day State Council [SC] meeting was held to share the activities of the last 3 months. Plans for the next quarter were also made. The meeting also included a perspective building session on the day of the rally on the issue of reservation.
A one day workshop was organized with the district conveners of Rajasthan and stake holders of Jaipur city for discussing the issue of rights of Muslim women. After a day long discussion, it was resolved that rights of Muslim women, enshrined in Quran and the Constitution should be implemented in a right perspective. These provisions should be incorporated in the Acts meant for the welfare of the Muslim women. A press conference was also organized. The leading papers of Rajasthan gave importance to the statement of founder members and district conveners. It was a successful workshop at the state level. (2010) In the month of March workshops on codification of Muslim personal law were held in Delhi, Jaipur, Patna and Bangalore. More than 200 women in these cities gave their views on an ideal Muslim personal law. Along with workshops on ideal Muslim law, the district conveners of the Andolan in these states also shared their work and strategies by which they are trying to achieve the vision of the Andolan.
In Jaipur and Patna a press conference was also held to highlight the purpose of the meeting and to help bring visibility to the Andolan. With this visit we have managed to strengthen the Bihar Unit of the Andolan. Close to 40-45 women from 9 villages near Patna attended the meeting and shared the difficulties which they face. Village plans were chalked out as many women came forward to take responsibility of their village.
In November 10, a consultative meeting was held with the lawyers in Bhopal to discuss the process of codification with them. 27 lawyers attended this meeting and endorsed our stand to press for codification of Muslim personal law. They also gave suggestions to the draft law being prepared by the BMMA.
In Bangalore, along with discussion on codification a dharna was organized to highlight our demands pertaining to 33% reservation for women. More than 50 Muslim women attended the dharna on the busy M.G Road and gave out a call for reservation for Muslim women. It was well covered by the press as more than 11 papers covered the event. In Bangalore a one-day workshop on gender was conducted which was attended by district and ward conveners of Karnataka state.
The Mumbai and Maharashtra Units have been successful in creating a platform for Muslim women to come out in public and place their demands before the state. This was evident in Osmanabad when for the first time 25-30 burkha clad Muslim women marched to the Collectorate to demand ration cards. The general public on the road were gawking at them, rightly so as probably they had never seem so many Muslim women out on the streets. A large turnout in the public meetings in Mumbai also indicates that Muslim women need a platform and once they have it, they would want to take advantage to further their cause. The Units have also created a platform where elected representatives are called to respond to the queries of women related to issues of livelihood and basic amenities. BMMA has also given opportunity to Muslim women to take on leadership roles in their community. They are encouraged to visit the Collectorate, local ration office, police station and other government institutions with their demands.
The UP Unit of the BMMA organized a protest with 500 Muslim women in Lucknow and Fatehpur. The Unit emphasized that once the Bill was passed there should be a democratic process by which women from other excluded groups should get an opportunity from the Bill. Women also condemned the clerics who out of their insecurity do not want Muslim women to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill.
In Bihar 100 women members of BMMA of Bihar district had sat on dharana in front of the Kargil chowk Gandhi Maidan Patna on 17h March to protest against the irresponsible and highly patriarchal utterance of clerics who do not want Muslim women to participate in politics. .
Braving the heat of 45 degree around 46 Muslim and Dalit women sat in dharanas in 2 districts of Orissa, Cuttack and Jajpur on 15th April 2010 in support of the Women Reservation Bill..
Gujarat unit of BMMA has been closely working with different NGOs to build a voice for peace and harmony. Regular public meetings, workshops are organised on occasions such as Womens’ Day, Minorities Day, August Kranti Divas etc. Some of these voluntary groups who are partnered with are Jan Sangharash Manch, Ekta Samiti, Aman Samudaya, Niswan etc.
The BMMA along with Muslim All Backward Classes Association, Muslims For Secular Democracy, and Hukook-e-Niswan Mahila Sanghatana organized a rally on 15th April 10 from Nagpada Sagar Hotel to Azad Maidan to extend their support to the Women’s Reservation Bill that awaits passage in the Lok Sabha. More than five hundred Muslim women participated in the rally to also ask the government to initiate democratic processes by which women from excluded castes, class and religion can take benefit from this affirmative action. Muslim women from 4 districts of Maharashtra like Beed, Osmanabad, Nasik, Malegaon, Padli attended the rally. From within Mumbai, Muslim women from Bandra (East), Bandra (West), Mulund, Dowri Nagar, Vakola, Khar, Sion, Jeri Meri, Kurla, Mumbra attended the rally in large numbers.(2010)
One public meeting was held which was attended by 200 Muslim, dalit and adivasi women. Information about BMMA was given. Area leaders were also selected and information about SHGs started by State Bank of India was also given. (2011)
Signature campaign against violence against women was held on 26th November 2007 on the International Day of violence against women in Uttar Pradesh.
In Delhi, signature campaign was done in 2010 to press for the implementation of the recommendations of Sachar report.
BMMA leadership has been actively working as a pressure group for the effective implementation of the recommendations of Sachar Report. The Report was released in 2006 but one can see the lack of political and bureaucratic will to implement its recommendations. Unless the community organizes itself the report will remain just that, a report. In the last 10 years, BMMA leaders at the village, district, state and national level have advocated for the implementation of government schemes meant for the social, economic, educational development of the community. BMMA leaders collaborate and coordinate with government department for implementing the PM’s New 15 Point Program with emphasis on scholarship schemes particularly for girls, formation of Self-help Groups for women to seek technical and financial assistance under the program form the government, livelihood programs, etc. Mumbai Unit also carried out programmes to demand 33% reservations (2007, 2010)
In Tamil Nadu programmes were carried out to demand Below Poverty Line enumeration: During the past two years, several petitions were given to District Collector, the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu during the State rally held on 23 December 2009. Replies were obtained from the Chief Minister’s Cell saying that the responsibility of enumerating BPL is vested with the local Panchayats and the Block Development Office and not at central level. It was advised to lobby with the local administration. Therefore, a rally was held at Ilayangudi on 22 June 2010 to demand BPL numbers to poor households of Muslim minority. A total of 150 women participated in the event and the petition was given to the Block Development Officer and the Tahsildar of local administration.
State level campaign on Muslim women’s Rights was held on 23 November 2010, a State level Campaign in the form of Convention was held at Ilayangudi, Sivagangai district with participation of about 620 BMMA members from three districts along with members of Forum of Muslim Women’s Voices. The theme of the convention was on the role of women in Panchayat Raj Institutions. Mrs. Salma, the Chair Person of Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Board was invited to deliver the Presidential speech and facilitate the convention. Ms. Salma shared her own personal experiences of emancipating from a housewife to taking part in local governance. Being a Muslim woman she contested in the election which was reserved and she was fully supported by her family. (2010)
The BMMA National Unit has supported various campaigns initiated by other organizations through e-endorsements. Some of the campaigns supported by us are for concern regarding the proper implementation of the Rajiv Awas Yojna of Urban Housing Ministry of the GOI.
Support to residents of Annabhau Sathe Nagar slum community which was to be demolished. The endorsement condemned the unholy nexus between the builders, bureaucrats and politicians. The Unit also sent a demand to the Standing Committee for detailed consultation on the Nuclear Liability Bill. A peace yatra was organized and banners and posters were put up at the time of the Ayodhya verdict.
More than 5000 signatures have been collected for implementation of Sachar Committee Report. The signatures were collected from localities of Mulund, Santacruz, Bandra, Malad. The signature campaign is being done in other states where the BMMA is active. All signatures will be collected centrally and then used for advocacy at the state and national level. (2010)
In Malegaon city a signature campaign was conducted to press demand for the effective implementation of the Sachar Committee report.
The BMMA members, in addition to taking part in general activities were also involved in the burning issue of female foeticide. They participated in the protest demonstration before the medical council of Rajasthan which was reluctant to take proper action against the culprits. (2010)
Anti-dowry and Pro-Mehr campaign Campaigns were carried out at village level on this issue. Women became aware of their rights to demand mehr. Stop polygamy in coordination with Jamats in 35 villages, monitoring committees are responsible for stopping men indulging in polygamous marriage. No cases were reported during this period.
The BMMA has been very actively even engaged with the press. In the year 2010, 4 press conferences were held. In addition, press statements were issued. Articles were written to highlight the concerns of Muslim women. This is indicated in the number of press releases in 2010.
In the year 2010, to assess and document the conditions of communities inhabited by the Muslims, 20 localities have been selected in Mumbai. The living conditions of people living in these Muslim-dominated ghettos were assessed. The activists visited the State Social Welfare Board, Department of Women and Child Welfare, Vishesh Zilla Samaaj Kalyan Adhikari to find out their outreach towards the Muslim community. The activists continue to visit the ration office, ward office and corporator’s office every month with their complaints. The objective is to act as pressure group and keep the government on its toes.
Rajasthan BMMA activists attended a two day workshop organized by ASTHA in 2010 to discuss the status of Muslim women in Rajasthan. Measures to uplift the social-economic status of the Muslim women were discussed in detail. Mrs. Nishat Hussain was nominated as a member of the committee constituted under the chairpersonship of Chief Secretary of Rajasthan for selection of the women under the program “Mahila Shakti Puraskar” as a representative of BMMA. We attended the meeting for preparation of a draft of a bill for “Mahila Kamgar Samajik Suraksha Adiniyam,” convened by Labour Department of Rajasthan. Attended a meeting convened by the Women and Child Department to review the “Jila Sahayeta Committee” for establishment of MSSK in various districts of Rajasthan. Meeting was convened by the Women and Child Department for the establishment of Mahila Salah Evam Suraksha Kendra in the premises of 24 Mahila Thanas in various districts of Rajasthan. The activists also discussed the implementation of the announcement made by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan.
Udaan: BMMA initiative to engage with Muslim boys
BMMA understands the importance of engagement with adolescent boys. The various BMMA units have been holding gender training workshops, informing young boys about women’s rights, sexual abuse, and engaging them with various creative activities such as theatre, spoken English and film screenings to name a few. A play was performed by the Udaan group in Maharashtra. The theme of the play was secularism and communal harmony. A lot of emphasis is also on education of young boys and girls and assistance in how to prepare for exams and in applying for scholarships was also an important aspect of Udaan and its engagement with young boys. For instance, BMMA in Orissa, helped 117 students apply for pre- matriculation scholarships in 2013-14 out of which 60 students, boys and girls, got pre- matric scholarship. Boys in Tamil Nadu also received gender sensitization trainings. With SWOT analysis conducted for both boys and girls in Tamil Nadu, their leadership qualities became very apparent towards the end of these trainings and workshops.
Painting, Theatre camps conducted for Udaan group; Film screenings conducted – ‘Delhi Safari, Haidar, Khuda ke liye; Gender training conducted for UDAAN group; Discussion conducted on women & Quran; Computer Coaching classes conducted for 10 boys
Udaan boys and their parents have also been given awareness on child sexual abuse. Many boys and girls are vulnerable to abuse. More than 200 boys and their parents have been made aware of this issue so that they can protect themselves.
In collaboration with other organisations gender training is given to young boys so that they learn to respect women and also understand that patriarchy and violence is harmful to them as well. Sessions on unpaid care work were also held
Udaan boys received training on Muslim family law. They were made aware about their responsibilities towards women. They were also give awareness on the rights of women in Islam. Many discriminatory practices that are harmful to women must not be followed. Boys pledged that they will respect women and never indulge in discriminatory practices. They were made to realise that triple divorce is unquranic and that they must never be violent towards any women ever in future and must contribute to household work and consider their future wife as their friend and partner.
Young boys are trained to become leaders of their community. In various meetings they discuss the problems of water, drainage, diseases in their community. The group was also given information about the upcoming elections and the roles and responsibilities of our elected representatives. They gave submissions to their local political representatives so that there problems can be solved.
Some boys visited the Traffic Controller office. They got information about traffic rules, silence zones, understanding sign boards etc.
A health talk was conducted for 18 young children by Dr. Gokhale on 2nd March. She spoke on good eating habits and the ill effects of smoking, drinking and drugs.
Udaan boys are active participants of the Kabeera theatre group where they learned theatre. Some of them also performd at the Khalsa college cultural programme.
Boys along with girls attended training workshop on ‘Dreams and Aspirations’ in May and also a career guidance session on the pharmaceutical industry. They also attended a theatre workshop conducted by Ravi Pednekar.
In collaboration with Magic Bus and MAVA many training programmes are organised.
The rally ‘Girls Against the Killing of School Children in Peshawar’ was conducted. 53 Udaan boys and 63 Sehr girls participated in it.
Sehr: BMMA initiative to engage with Muslim girls
Sehr is an initiative of BMMA which involves engagement with young adolescent girls, with an aim of helping them understand their rights, assist them with life skill training among others. In its first year in Karnataka, the young girls attended workshops on life skill education, gender, Quranic rights of women among others. Theatre, socially relevant movies followed by group discussions, an exposure visit to Bagalkot dam and an iftar was party organized with girls belonging to different communities.
A Film screening and discussion was conducted for youths on the film “Haider”, ‘Bahubali’, ‘Boll’, ‘Khuda ke liye’, ‘Had Anhad’, ‘Well done abba’, ‘Stone of soraya’ and ‘The Man’s world’; Gender Training conducted for 28 girls; Conducted Craft and greeting preparation training; Exposure visit to Delhi for 25 girls who attend the BMMA Delhi convention
In 2015, into its second year in the state, the focus of SEHR was also on higher education and ten of its members were enrolled in college, twelve girls trained in computers and twenty attended a three month Basic English coaching. Involvement in community activities towards fostering communal harmony continued to be an important aspect of the group.
Similarly, BMMA in Orissa also undertook formation of SEHR in 2014, starting with a group of fifty young girls. Various activities had been undertaken in subsequent months through 2015 in the state by BMMA which included meetings and awareness drives; interface on their dreams and aspirations; personality development; on secular and constitutional values; on the concept of gender; issues of dropout girl children; and gender justice among others. An emphasis on education and opportunities available for young girls was also an area that the state chapter covered.
The Maharashtra chapter of SEHR saw involvement of the girls in various activities throughout 2014 and 2015. Trainings and workshops on leadership, life skills, public speaking, personality development, communication skills, short movie making, MPL, gender and law, self-defence and others were conducted for the girls who participated in all these activities with great enthusiasm. SEHR members in the state also visited a family court, police stations, Mahila vikas Kendra and various universities and colleges as part of their field work. 32 girls and 21 women working in the unorganized sector in the state were assisted in opening bank accounts, and many were assisted in getting PAN cards and Voter IDs made. Film screenings, theatre and physical activities, such as football matches organized, continued to be important activities that the girls took under the leadership of BMMA in the state. A session on ‘Menstruation Myth and Prejudices’, was conducted by students from TISS for fifty SEHR members in 2015.
Girls in Tamil Nadu of the SEHR group attended various workshops on legal awareness, gender, hygiene, communal harmony among others. 68 girls of the group applied for scholarships and study circles were formed with 100 children benefiting from the same. BMMA in Madhya Pradesh conducted gender trainings for girls, and workshops on constitutional rights, career guidance, and Quranic rights among others. Emphasis was also on education with more and more girls encouraged to enrol in graduate programs. In 2015, the Sehr group in Tamil Nadu saw gender trainings being held for the members. The girls were also encouraged to continue their education and were trained in safety measures among other issues. Imparting Life Skills to members has also been an important task that the state has undertaken through 2015.
BMMA members have become members of the Mahila Dakshta Samiti so that complaints by women can be addressed. BMMA members sit in the police station and address women’s grievances.
BMMA members are also part of the Mohalla Committee Movement Trust where regularly on a monthly basis issues of conflict within the community are addressed. Police at the ACP and DCP level attend such meetings where women are free to lodge their complaints.
A dharna was organized along with Ann Hakk Parishad, Kabeera Group and Shramik Muktivadi Sanghatana to condemn the Shiv Sena leader who said that the Constitution must be amended to do away with the words ‘secular’ and ‘Socialist’. 54 people participated in the dharna. A submission was done the next day to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
BMMA leaders gave a submission to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to account for the murder of a Muslim man in Pune.
Mahila Vikas Kendra, Samajwadi Mahila Manch and BMMA arranged an Aman and Shanti rally of 3 Bus, 25 cars and 50bikes. It was conducted in Jhamkher, Astha, Khed, Aahmednagar, Pune, Mominpura& Hadapsar.
List of 17 women and men were given to BKC police station for their membership into Mahila Dakshata Samiti which will look into cases of violence against women and other cases of neglect in hospitals
Through Mohalla Committee Movement Trust one BMMA representative is sitting in Nirmal Nagar Police station for cases filed by women. Training on 498A was held as part of this initiative so that women counsellors are well equipped to handle it.
A meeting on communal harmony was arranged for the area leaders followed by a discussion on the upcoming elections in 2014. Visit was also undertaken to Muzaffarnagar camp to meet the people affected by the riots. The tehsildar office and police station was also visited along with area leaders to understand the cause of the riots. Mohulla committee meeting was attended at Nirmal Nagar police station to maintain peace during Ganpati and Navratri festival. Also attended Mohulla committee meeting with 3people at Vakola police station. A Mohulla committee and B.M.M.A meeting was organized at Kalina which was attended by 75 people. The police showed a short film on chain snatching
A group called Defense of Democracy was formed in Mumbai to counter the communal forces. 4-5 meetings were held in the last 6 months to work out a strategy to promote secular values and to counter the rise of right wing politics.
ISLAMIC FEMINISM AND BMMA
Campaign to Codify Muslim family law
The BMMA since its inception in 2007 has been campaigning for reforms in the Muslim Family law. The objective of these consultations was to draft an alternative Muslim law which is in consonance with the Quranic and Constitutional principles of justice and equality. BMMA believes that unlike other laws made, the Muslim law must reflect the aspirations and opinions of ordinary Muslim women. In the consultations, the provisions of this draft law were discussed and the opinions of Muslim women were incorporated.
In 2008 the activists of the BMMA held state consultations to formulate an ideal Muslim personal law. These consultations were held in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Mumbai. Muslim women gave their suggestions on the nature of the law. They wanted it to give them justice, equality and protection. This alternative law will have to be in consonance with the Constitution as well as the Quran so that Muslim women are able to get justice. This round of consultations revealed that Muslim women want a just process by which the marriage can be terminated. They are very incensed with the impunity with which men terminate the marriage orally and unilaterally. They suggested that no marriage can be terminated arbitrarily and Muslim men must comply with this requirement. They also suggested a ban on polygamy as Muslim men have taken advantage of this provision in law and ruined the lives of so many women. The women also suggested a novel method of deciding the mehr amount. They suggested that the mehr amount should be the annual income of the man. For eg if a man’s annual income is Rs.2 lakh then the mehr amount should also be 2 lakhs. Many more suggestions were given which were then incorporated in the draft law. The BMMA undertook these consultations with many organizations.
In 2010, in Bhopal consultations were held with close to 30 lawyers who endorsed the process of codification initiated by BMMA and also showed willingness to give their inputs to strengthen the draft. After Bhopal the consultations happened in UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Gujrat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Consultation meeting with lawyers were also held in UP, Karnataka, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. In Karnataka the meeting was organized in collaboration with Muslim Lawyers Association. More than 25 lawyers attended the meeting. Similarly in Chennai the consultation was organized in collaboration with Women Lawyers Association in which more than 100 women lawyers attended the meeting. In Orissa and UP the BMMA unit took the initiative independently to call the lawyers for the consultation. In all the four meetings, the overall response of the lawyers was positive. Most of them welcomed the idea of codification and even gave valuable suggestions to the draft. Issues like age of marriage, polygamy, method of divorce, iddat, mehr, arbitration process were discussed in great details.
As part of the presentation, a detailed history of the reform process was laid down before the group. As expected in each meeting there were some lawyers who did not approve of the process and were not happy that this issue is now being taken up. The experience was particularly unpleasant in Karnataka where a group of practicing lawyers; who we assume would know the legalities better than a lay person, disapproved of the process. Some very senior advocates were clearly anti-women and made very uncomplimentary remarks about Muslim women. The most pleasant moment was in Chennai, when the Chief Justice of Chennai High Court Justice Akbar Ali, approved of the process and even agreed to support it publicly. In each state a drafting committee was also formed which looked into the draft law and gave their suggestions.
Consultation meeting with lawyers was held in Bihar and Jharkhand. In Jharkhand the meeting was co-organised by BMMA and Shrishty organization. In both the consultations the lawyers extended their support to the process of codification of Muslim personal law. Many gave their suggestions to the draft and also gave their names to be in the drafting committee.
In the year 2011, the draft of the Muslim Family law was sent to many individuals for their opinion. Notable among them are Noor Zaheer, Sheeba Aslam Fehmi, Advocate Jawad and Javed Anand. Moreover many individuals have been approached to know their views on the process of codification. The Muslim Lawyers Association, AIDWA have been approached. Mr. Husein Dalwai, Rajya Sabha MP had then even agreed to move a private members bill to introduce the Bill of codification in the Parliament.
A 2-day consultation was held in New Delhi on 4th and 5th February 2012 in collaboration with Centre for Study for Society and Secularism [CSSS]. The objective of the workshop was to firm up the draft of the codified law prepared by both the organizations. One can say that for the first time a very open, frank and constructive debate and discussion took place amongst all those stakeholders who genuinely wanted to address the issue of legal reforms. A very important beginning has been made which will be followed by many more such consultations in different states of the country as well as nationally. The issues given above will be further discussed and debated with many more groups and organizations. The consultations were guided by Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Dr. Tahir Mehmood, Justice Akbar Ali, Justice Shamsuddin, Prof. Wani, Javed Anand and Zakia Soman.
The gathering gave their unanimous support to the process of codification. They esteemed activists and academicians felt that it is high time that the Muslim family law is codified to ensure legal rights to the Muslim women. While Quranic injunctions have ensured these rights to women, the same does not getting reflected in the law. There is a wide gap between what is ordained and what is available to the Muslim women. It is through a codified law that we will be able to bridge this gap. For many years now the issue of reforms of personal law has remained problem centric. It is now time to take the discussion towards working out solutions, one of which is codification. For many years now the Muslim clergy have taken upon themselves the responsibility of guarding the Muslim law and as a result the Muslim women have suffered untold misery. It is now time for the enlightened members of the Muslim community to take on the onus of reforms and change.
The gathering agreed that the codified law must ensure that the age of marriage of the Muslim girl is 18 and the boy is 21. It also called for compulsory registration of marriage with the state authorities. The mehr amount of the bride should be 100% of the annual income of the groom. This is to ensure that there is some method by which one can arrive at the amount of mehr, which many a times is nothing more than Rs. 786/-There was complete agreement on a complete ban on unilateral oral divorce. Instead the talaak-e-Ahsan method of divorce must be codified which would be the uniform method of divorce for both man and the woman. Divorce by mutual consent [mubarah] must also be included in the codified law. Mother and father both should be declared as natural guardians of the child while deciding its custody. The ‘best interest of the child’ should be the guiding principle while deciding custody of the children. The participants reiterated that monogamy is the stated ideal in Islam. Hence polygamy must be made restrictive and conditional so that it becomes almost impossible for a Muslim man to contract another marriage in the subsistence of the first. There was also a counter argument that since the sex ratio is not in favour of women and those special conditions which supported polygamy 1400 years back do not exist now and since there are clear quranic injunctions supporting monogamy, why should polygamy not be made illegal completely?
On 7th April 2012, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan [BMMA] and Muslims for Secular Democracy [MSD] organized a one-day consultation on codification of Muslim family law. The consultation was part of the campaign initiated by BMMA to codify the Muslim law. The consultation was attended by Dr. Zeenat Shaukat Ali, Adv. Kirti Singh, Zakia Soman and Javed Anand. More than 100 women and men participated. Organizations like Stree Mukti Sanghatana, SNEHA, Navnirman Samaj Vikas Kendra, Muslim Samanway Samiti, Hukook-e-Niswan Sanghatana, Mahila Shakti Mandal, Samjhauta Mahila Mandal, Sahyog Mandal, BMMA district leaders from Nasik, Sholapur and Pune, AIDWA, Jagruti Kendra, Hamraaz Legal Cell, Research Centre for Women’s Studies-SNDT Women’s University, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy-SNDT Women’s University, Don Bosco, NEEDs and Vikas Adhyayan Kendra. Adv. Nirmala Sawant Prabhavalkar, member of National Commission for Women and former Mayor and Chairperson of State Commission for Women attended this consultation as a member of the women’s movement and extended her support to the process. Although not invited 7-8 women and men members of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, attended the workshop. They raised many questions on many clauses and on many other they agreed with the draft.
A consultation on codification was held in Kolkata. Women from different organizations came for the consultation. The draft was shared with them in detail. Many suggestions came forth. The gathering agreed that codification is the answer to the legal problems of Muslim women.
BMMA meetings were organized in Koppal, Hubli and Dharwad district of Karnataka in March 2012. In this meeting, information about BMMA was given Muslim women in this district also shared about the difficulties that they face. Many women who were senior citizens were demanding senior citizen’s card. They also did not have any facility by the government. They did not have any document which would help them to get old age pension or widow pension. They also did not have ration card or health card issued by the Karnataka government. This health card also called the Vajpayee card would help them get free medicines but they do not have it.
A small consultation was held with lawyers on codification of Muslim law. Adv. Abdul Gani Afsar and Adv. Qasim who were in favour of codification of Muslim law offered to organize a bigger meeting of lawyers who would give their support for the reforms in the law. A press outreach was also organized which was facilitated by Mr. Sadiq Pasha. Next day more than 5-6 papers covered the event.
The team of BMMA also met lawyers in Dharwad district and shared the idea of codification with them. They whole heartedly supported the idea and offered their help in our future endeavours. In the Hubli district more than 50 Muslim women attended the meeting. The women here were very enthusiastic and showed keen interest in taking leadership and improving their living conditions. They have promised that in a year’s time they will solve the problems of exorbitant water bill, overflowing gutters and scholarship for girl’s education. They all promised to support their district leader and solve their problems which they have been facing for such a long time. It was heartening to hear these men offering their full support to Muslim women leaders and also supporting the campaign on codification of Muslim law.
The draft has also been sent to National Law Commission, National Women’s Commission, State Women’s Commission and State and National Minority Commission.
On 7th March, a consultation was held with lawyers in Kolkata. It was organized by Nari-o-Shishu Kalyan Kendra, which is the supporting organization of BMMA in West Bengal. 7 practicing lawyers from Kolkata High Court gave valuable suggestions to the draft.
Consultation was held with lawyers in Chennai on 30 and 31 March 2013 to discuss the draft law. Adv. Jawad, Mr. Salim participated in the discussion. The draft was discussed in details. Many suggestions were given and were incorporated in the draft.
On 16th April, a discussion on ‘Codification of Muslim Family Law’ took place in Puri, Odisha. The meeting was arranged by Sauhard Manch to educate its members about various personal laws. A small discussion also took place over the current codified laws existing for the Muslim community and how they are being used by practitioners for helping Muslim women get justice and how it is difficult to interpret existing laws which are ambiguous and depend on the interpretation of the practitioner.
A consultation in Kolkata with civil society groups and academicians was organized by BMMA unit and Nari-o-Shishu Kalyan Kendra in which a format was evolved for a manual stating rights of women in the Quran.
In a public meeting in Ahmedabad in December 2013, the salient features of the draft was shared with close to 500 Muslim women who endorsed the draft and resolved to work together for its implementation.
Another meeting will be held in Patna on 11th and 12th December 2013 to discuss the provisions of the draft in a public meeting. A training workshop will also be held to discuss the rights of Muslim women and call for a demand for codification of Muslim family law.
A similar meeting was held women in Hyderabad with help from My Choices organization. More than 60 Muslim women attended the meeting and gave their suggestions on the draft law.
Consultations on individual level happened with lawyers. The draft was sent to Adv. Mihir Desai, Adv. Kirti Singh, Prof. Tahir Mehmood, Justice Akbar Ali, Prof. Wani, Adv. S.A Uraizee, Adv. Pouru Wadia, Adv. Bader Saeed Adv. Zafarullah Khan, Adv. Arvind Kaur, Adv. Mini Mathew Adv. Afreen, Adv. Gayatri, Adv. Ranka Arya, Adv. Zafarullah Khan andAdv. Abdul Jawad.
In 2010, BMMA carried out these consultations with women in Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Delhi and Bhopal. In 2011, BMMA carried out consultations with lawyers, experts and academicians to incorporate their opinion in the draft law. In 2012-2013 consultations on a one to one basis were held with lawyers and individuals well versed with the Islamic law. In August 2014 the first draft of the Muslim Family Law thus formulated was released.
Trainings and Awareness
Training on Muslim Family Law and its relevance with constitutional law was held at CT training school and Dhenkanal Law College in Orissa where 60 and 32 persons participated respectively. The purpose of the workshops was to give information about Muslim law. A seminar on Muslim Family Law was held in Utkal University where 120 University students participated. Class on laws related to women with special focus on Muslim law was held at the Police Academy, Bhubaneswar. Lecture and presentation was done by Farhat Amin. 75 Police officers were made aware of Muslim law. Seminar on Muslim family law for University students at Vanivihar was also held. A similar training programme was held in Chattisgarh where Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer gave in depth information on rights of women in the Quran. A workshop on sexual harassment at work place was organized which was attended by 35 women in Orissa. Information about the law was given so that women could raise their voices against the issue.
Legal aid and guidance is given by the activists of the Andolan. The purpose is to make people understand their rights and use it for their benefit. The activists of the Andolan in Delhi have resolved 63 cases of family dispute in the last 3 years. Regular perspective building and workshops are held to give information and knowledge to people in the community. Rights of women enshrined in the Quran are also shared with the people.
In Mumbai activists of the Andolan have been also handling cases of women who are in distress apart from the cases that come for legal help and aid. In Rajasthan victims of domestic violence and marital disputes were sent to High Court’s legal aid center for legal advice and redressal. Legal awareness programs are conducted to enhance the knowledge about the rights of women particularly Muslim women which benefited 500 women. Exposure visits to police stations were also organized in which 180 participated.
20 girls from different localities attended the monthly meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to give them information about law and the status of women in our society. Memory games were played and a quiz competition was held to test their knowledge about law information about which was given in the previous session In addition meetings with local women’s groups are being held to spread awareness about the process of codification. Meetings have also been held with young girls group called Sehr.
25 BMMA area leaders attended a meeting on codification of Muslim family law. Women from areas like Husein Tekdi, Bharat nagar, Mori road, Navpada, Behrampada, Gausia Compound attended this meeting.
Girls participated in the session on ‘Rights of Women in Islam’. 17 girls attended this meeting. Difference between Quran, Hadis and Sunnah were explained. Based on quranic injunctions women’s rights vis-s-vis marriage, divorce, maintenance, mehr, age of marriage, polygamy, custody of children were explained. The provisions of draft law were also explained to the girls.
As part of creating awareness among young Muslim women on the issues of women’s rights, 2 sessions were conducted with members of the BMMA-Sehr group.
Training of core team members on codification was done in the Mumbai Unit of BMMA so that they can in future take up the issue for discussion in the community. training was also given to members of the Shariah Adalat run in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Dindigul and Jaipur.
- Training on BMMA’s codified law with members of Sneha organization
- Session with Bandra Reclamation girls on codification
- Training on the BMMA’s Marriage and Divorce Act was conducted with the members of the Aurton ki Shariat Adalat in October.
- 5 sessions with Udaan boys in Bharatnagar on ‘Rights of Women in Islam’. In all 75 boys were trained from Pipeline, Golibar, Bharatnagar, Navpada, Patel Nagar.
- 5 sessions on BMMA’s Muslim Family Law with 150 girls
- Training of Area and District Leaders on Constitutional Rights.
- Training and test of Mumbai BMMA team on BMMA and Muslim Family Act
- Training with senior officers of Nirmal nagar police station on BMMA and Muslim Family Law.
- Session on codified Muslim law was taken in Navpada. 16 women attended the training.
- Discussion of the draft over two meetings with the core team members, 5 sessions with Udaan, discussion of the draft with the Young Urban Women team comprising members from Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
In West Bengal a workshop on Muslim Women’s Rights was held at Cini Chetna Resource Centre, Kolkata in May 07 and as a part of sensitizing the staff and women in the community a workshop on the rights of the minority women was organized in the Development Area of Digampur Angikar, South 24 parganas. We also saw a lot of debate and discussion on the codification and the draft was shared with the various women’s Commissions and other social organizations in the state.
In Odisha, cadre and capacity building workshops, village meetings, discussion on Muslim personal law and Constitutional rights are organized. Here the Legal Counselling Centre caters to cases from both urban and rural areas (2007). The training programme on Muslim Personal Law was organized at Cuttack. Training Programme on Muslim Personal and Constitutional Law was held at Bentalo, Bhadrak. Mufti Dawood Khan and advocate Siddharth Pattnaik took the session in which 100 Muslim women participated. An IEC material on ‘The Rights of Muslim Women’ was published. Through this IEC Material both men and women can know about their rights and the importance of gender equality in Islam. (2010)
Similarly, activities on codification have also been carried out regularly in Odisha with local meetings with qazis, lawyers, advocacy with qazis and government, campaign on oral divorce etc. A workshop was organized for ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) workers to create awareness on this subject as a highlight of the year 2014. It may also be highlighted that a divorce case was amicably solved by the organization where the woman got maintenance from her ex-husband. A capacity building workshop on Muslim Personal Law was also organized on 18th January 2015. In the workshop, an attempt was made to educate the 30 participants about the codification of Muslim Personal Law. We also organized a workshop for capacity building, advocacy and campaign on Muslim Personal Law on 13th February 2015. 100 girls and women participated in the meeting. Subjects such as nikah, meher, maintenance and property according to Holy Qoran were discussed in order to eliminate the misconceptions and misinterpretation created by the religious leaders influenced by patriarchal ideology. Qaziat is a terminology used by Islam to imply that a girl or a woman can become a qazi if she wishes so. However, awareness regarding this is almost nil among the community. It is traditionally believed that only male members can become a qazi. Inspired by the initiative taken by BMMA to train women to become qazi, BIRD and the Odisha unit of BMMA organized a workshop to create awareness among the women about the possibility of becoming qazi and to encourage young girls and women to become economically independent. Nearly 100 young girls participated in the workshop. In the year 2010, approximately 60 women attended 2 training programmes on leadership.
One of the main strategies of the Rajasthan Unit of BMMA’s Aurton ki Shariah Adalat has been building awareness for women as well as men through counselling, and many of the cases that came to these courts were solved by counselling itself. One of the achievements of the WSC at Rajasthan was its ability to make men aware of the rights of women under Islam and a visible change in their behavior which was earlier marked by patriarchal understandings of women’s role in society.
In Tamilnadu, an awareness programme to sensitize the Jamat leaders and women on the Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act was carried out in Sivagangai, Ramnad and Dindigul districts. This Act envisages that all the marriages performed by different religious groups must be registered. 80 participants from all the three districts participated. The workshop at Sivagangai was facilitated by High Court Justice, G.M. Akbar Ali.
Anti-dowry and Pro-Mehr campaigns were carried out at village level on this issue. Women became aware of their rights to demand mehr. We worked in coordination with the jamats in 35 villages to stop polygamy. The Monitoring Committees are responsible for stopping men from indulging in polygamous marriages. Since then no such cases were reported in these areas. Similarly, to Stop Triple Talaq, in coordination with Jamats in 35 villages, Monitoring Committees were formed. These monitoring Committees monitor the talaq pronouncements and so far about 10 divorces in Dindigul and 10 in Sivagangai have been stopped.
Women community leaders were trained on the main features of the codified bill, nearly 300 of them in 2014 and the draft bill was released at the Chennai press club on the 1st of July by Adv. Badr Sayeed and BMMA national conveners. An important aspect of the Tamil Nadu chapter has been discussion of the bill with youth groups, domestic workers, home based workers etc as it affects them all. In the initial months of 2015 itself, 2500 members were made aware of the bill and they endorsed the draft. A street campaign to ban oral unilateral divorce was held on the 8th of March, 2015 at Vedasendore and on 21 August 2015 the study mentioned above, on reforms in Muslim personal law was released at Chennai press club in Tamilnadu, which was very widely covered by the media and attended by people from all walks of life.
To highlight the issue of oral, unilateral divorce, BMMA through its National Annual Convention held a national public hearing of victims of oral unilateral divorce. Women from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh narrated the different ways in which they have been divorced by their husbands. To put an end to this heinous practice BMMA demanded that the Muslim family law must be codified. The activists of BMMA have been working on a draft law since its inception. Many consultations have been held across the country to arrive at the various clauses mentioned in the draft. Through this Convention, BMMA wants the state to hear the voices of Muslim women. The state now can no longer ignore this voice. It must treat Muslim women as citizens of this country and must put an immediate ban on the practice of oral/unilateral divorce.
BMMA Karnataka is active in 5 districts of Karnataka namely, Belgaum, Dharwad, Koppal, Hospet and Bangalore since 2007. In 2015, the BMMA chapter in Karnataka saw the collection of over 1200 signatures in favour of passing of the draft Muslim Personal Law and the same was sent to 107 MLAs. A discussion was held with Women’s University Bijapur and the draft sent to various universities in Karnataka and discussed with Muslim women writers and activists. The draft MPL was also shared with the State Women’s Commission, Law Commission, Minority Commission, and Human Rights Commission in the state.
The Maharashtra chapter of BMMA carried out many activities around codification of MPL throughout 2014 and 2015. The draft bill was worked on in detail and discussed with various stakeholders, including lawyers in Maharashtra. We released the draft of the Muslim Family Law on 18th June 2014 at Marathi Patrakar Sangh which was attended by the press, lawyers, civil society as well as community leaders. In 2015, there was a presentation of the draft at the Sir Syed Memorial Lecture organized by students of TISS, and a number of other institutions also held discussions on the codified draft law, institutions such as Ashoka, Institute of Objective studies, Mumbai University, IIT, British High Commission among others. A session was also held with Muslim women associated with Maharashtra Mahila Parishad in Mumbra which informed participants about Quran/hadis and rights of women in the Quran. Darul Uloom Niswan was registered as a centre for learning and theology. This year the syllabus for Qaziat was prepared and syllabus books were bought for training women to be in charge of Shariah Adalats and challenge the existing patriarchal structures of the Shariah courts headed by men. The first batch of women qazi training was held in Mumbai, attended by 30 Muslim from women across the country and 75 young boys and 150 young girls were also trained on ‘Rights of Women in Islam’.
‘Seeking Justice Within Family- A National Study on Muslim Women’s Views on Reforms in Muslim Personal Law’ – This study was conducted by the BMMA across the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Karnataka, Bihar, Tamilnadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha. As part of this Study 4710 Muslim women were directly surveyed. The purpose of the Study was to ascertain the status of Muslim women pertaining to matters such as marriage, divorce, maintenance, custody of children etc. and also to find out their views on legal provisions concerning these aspects. A detailed questionnaire was prepared and administered to 4710 Muslim women above 18 years of age across the 10 states. An overwhelming number of women surveyed were from weak economic backgrounds. The data was collected over the period from July to December 2013.
The activists of BMMA, Mumbai unit, in a press conference strongly condemned the fatwa issued by Darul Ifta, Fatwa department of Sunni Islamic seminary, Darul Uloom Deoband stating that divorce pronounced by the husband on phone is valid even if the wife has not heard it due to network problems. It says that ‘for talaq to take place it is not necessary that wife should hear it or witnesses are present.’ They also ruled that talaq pronounced in jest is also valid. (2010)
In the three districts of Tamil Nadu the women groups associated with BMMA collectively gave petitions to Jamats of the particular villages taking a lead role in pressing the need to stop triple divorce. Three women have resisted the divorce done sent through letters. They have also taken legal remedies through court of law and police. However, the Jamats expressed their inability to control men marrying more than one woman as “No Objection certificates” are taken from outside their villages. Though this type of marriage is valid as per the law, they are not acceptable either by the community or Jamats.
In Sivagangai district, the women’s groups are negotiating with Jamats on the Nikah Nama to include the “Seer” given by the bride to the bride groom. Awareness on the need to use the Nikah Nama in marriages has been created. The women liaised with 5 Jamats and out of whom 2 Jamats have responded positively. In all the districts, pro mehr and anti-dowry campaigns have been initiated among all the SHGs and sangams on a regular basis. The activists have also liaised with Jamats to curb dowry practice and promote mehr in marriages. Jamats are expressing that this will be discussed but also explained their inability to stop the same completely. In all 922 BMMA members were sensitized on this issue. The women groups are now thinking of arriving at different strategies to combat the issue of polygamy. 922 BMMA members were organized for the same. The formation of Vigilance Committees consisting of both men and women as well lobbying with the government to change/ amend the personal laws are some of the outcomes of the process. The centralized process of registration of marriages through District/ State level Quazis shall be made. Towards this end, it is planned to lobby at different levels by making synergies with other stakeholders.
The Unit organized a workshop with heads of Jamaat to discuss the issues of Muslim women. Many issues were discussed with the Jamaat members in a participatory way and many resolutions were passed. The important ones were that the practice of triple divorce should be declared void and that the jamaats should not accept it. It was also decided that women will be included in the jamaat to deal with cases of women who come there. It was also resolved that uniform nikaahnama could be used to control polygamy. Marriage registrations should be computerized at the district, state and national level.
The BMMA has also prepared a model nikaahnama to ensure the legal rights of women in marriage. In Mumbai 40 marriages were performed on this nikaahnama. And in Ahmedabad district in Gujarat, 200 group marriages have been performed. The mehr amounts in these marriages ranged from 5000 to 1 lakh. Many women got property and jewelry in the form of mehr. This nikaahnama forbids oral triple divorce by men. In case any of the parties need a divorce than a process of arbitration has to be initiated and only after due process can a divorce take place. A Muslim man cannot remarry while he is under this contract. Thus this nikaahnama curbs a men’s right to polygamy. The age of marriage is 18 for girls and 21 for boys. This document also contains those Quranic verses based on which this nikaahnama has been formulated. While a codified Muslim law is the long term goal, this nikaahnama has already helped Muslim women in ensuring her legal rights.
To highlight the issue of oral, unilateral divorce, BMMA through its national annual convention held a national public hearing of victims of oral unilateral divorce. Women from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh will narrate the different ways in which they have been divorced by their husbands. To put an end to this heinous practice BMMA demanded that the Muslim family law must be codified. The activists of BMMA have been working on a draft law since its inception. Many consultations have been held across the country to arrive at the various clauses mentioned in the draft. Through this Convention, BMMA wanted the state to hear the voices of Muslim women. The state now can no longer ignore this voice. It must treat Muslim women as citizens of this country and must put an immediate ban on the practice of oral/unilateral divorce.
After the Annual Convention letters demanding abolition of the practice of oral divorce was sent to National Minorities Commission, National Women’s Commission and Sonia Gandhi, National Advisory Council. Letters were also sent to State Minority Commission, State Women’s Commission and Minority Development Cell. Along with the letter signatures collected from across the country, list of supporting organizations and case studies were also sent. Letters were also sent to the 6 Member of Parliament to demand that they advocate on this issue.
Thereafter the various national units of BMMA began the process of compiling case studies of oral divorce. In all 68 case studies were compiled from across the country and this compilation in the form of a book was released before the press in Mumbai, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and other cities. The booklet titled ‘Stories of Oral Divorce and Indian Muslim Women’ was sent to all MPs in Mumbai as part of the campaign to demand ban on oral divorce.
Similar signature campaign was done on oral divorce and submitted to all the 6 MPs of Mumbai, to Chief Minister of Maharashtra and to the State Minority Commission and State Women’s Commission.
In Mumbai a meeting was held in collaboration with the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies, SNDT Women’s University. Invitations were sent out to 48 maulanas, muftis and qazis. 5 of them whose names are mentioned above came for this meeting. The objective of the programme was to initiative a dialogue between Kazi/Mufti and Muslim women in order to finding solutions on their legal problems, to let the Kazi/Mufti know that Muslim women have immense grievances against them and that they should evolve some system by which they could rein in rogue qazis who oppress women, to let the Kazi/Mufti know that their pronouncements are against the spirit of the Quran and to know their views on codification of Muslim family law. The panelists were Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Mr. Javed Anand, Mufti Muzaffar Alam, Mufti Abdul Rehman, Maulana Waqar Ahmed, Maulana Mufidul Islam, Maulana Muzaffar Alam, Mr. Nabi Idrisi and Mr. Maqbool Alam
The litigants suggested that the decisions by the qazis or the court should be taken after consulting both the wife and the husband. The suggestions were:
- Husband must support his wife and the children. He cannot be allowed to remarry during the subsistence of one marriage.
- Oral divorce should not be allowed. Arbitration is mandatory. Because of easy divorce man can remarry easily in which he is fully supported by the qazi. Unilateral oral divorce must be abolished. Men should not have the right to pronounce divorce at all. This right should be with the court.
- All rights mentioned in the Quran must be translated in a law so that women can access it
- Women must get a bigger mehr amount so that the husband is discouraged from initiating divorce
- All Muslim marriages must be registered.
All 15 states of BMMA held dharnas/rallies to protest against the practice of oral divorce. In Mumbai a dharna was held at Azad Maidan. It was attended by 80 women. A submission was sent to national and state minority and women’s commission, to all MPs and MLAs in Mumbai and to the Chief Minister.
A dharna was held on in June 2013 against oral divorce in Mumbai. The same was attended by more than 80 members from the BMMA. The members protested and demanded a ban on oral divorce. The activists paid tribute to Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer by maintaining one minute silence. The event was well covered by press and submissions were sent to National and State Women’s and Minority Commissions and also to all MPs and MLAs in Mumbai.
In keeping with the demand for codification, the BMMA units across the country held press conferences to denounce the Delhi High Court Judgment which declared that the marriage of a 15 year old girl is valid under the shariah law.
Young Muslim girls who are part of the BMMA-Sehr Initiative addressed a press conference in Mumbai where the condemned the Delhi High Court judgment which validated a Muslim marriage at the age of 15. Alisha Patel, Heena Shaikh, Rukhsar Siddiqui, Zeenat Shaikh and Iram Siddiqui spoke to the press confidently and said that they want to educate themselves and become economically independent. The judgment is not in tunes with the time and does not reflect the aspirations of young Muslim girls. The BMMA activists demanded codification of Muslim law as a codified law would end the arbitrariness of judicial decisions.
A press conference on oral divorce was organized on 21st March at Marathi Patrakar Sangh(VT) Speakers were Noorjehan, Raziya Rehman Shaikh, Farhana and Nirmala Nahar. A book containing 68 case studies was released in the press conference. The press releases and the book was then sent to NCM, NCW, SCM and SCW along with copies to Mumbai MPs and MLAs. The information on this event was also uploaded on the facebook, AISF and Moderate Forum.
BMMA had sent recommendations to the Women and Child Department to be included in the Women’s Policy. BMMA attended two meetings to reiterate their demand for codification. The first meeting was attended by Minister Fauzia Khan. The minister incharge of the WCD suggested that a separate meeting must be held with Muslim women’s organization to take their views on what can go in the Women’s Policy from the perspective of Muslim women. Hence a meeting was held on 25th May, coordinated by Farida Lambay, to take the opinion of Muslim women. BMMA gave suggestions on education, livelihood, health, entitlements etc. The main crux of our demand was about codification of Muslim family law. All members present in the meeting barring one, agreed that Muslim law must be codified. BMMA also added to other recommendations, specifically on codification and submitted to the Department. An informal group of individuals and organizations, called Ankur was formed for taking forward issues of Muslim women. The group’s first job has been to work on the women’s policy from the perspective of Muslim women. In future it plans to take up the issue of codification. In the final document all suggestions given by BMMA except codification was accepted by the core committee formed to work on the draft women’s policy.
The issue of codification was also incorporated in the document prepared by Wada Na Todo Abhiyan. Submission by BMMA was done in a Muslim Women’s Consultation in Mumbai, 22nd June 2013 titled ‘Integrating Community Experiences and Expectations: Formulation of the Post Development Agenda’. BMMA gave recommendations on various social, economic and educational issues. A special submission was made regarding codification of Muslim family law and it was incorporated in the document.
A major achievement has been that the Mahmadur Rahman Report released by the Government of Maharashtra on the socio-economic status of Muslim women in Maharashtra mentioned in its recommendations that the practise of oral divorce must be abolished and maintenance must be given to Muslim women. This we can say is the direct impact of our campaign. This is the first time a government document has acknowledged that the problem exists.
The issue of codification was also suggested to be included in the Women’s Policy of Maharashtra. It was rejected by the core committee but the issue was nonetheless highlighted in the government, especially with the Women and Child Department. The press clippings of the book release and the dharna along with a demand for banning oral divorce was also sent to NCW, NCM, SCM and SCW. Also letters were sent to all MPs and MLAs in Mumbai. All efforts were made to highlight the issue of codification with the government. Submissions were also given to the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan in a seminar titled ‘Integrating Community Experiences and Expectations: Formulation of the Post Development Agenda’
Time and again BMMA has engaged with government authorities especially the Women’s Commission, Law Commission, Human Rights Commission and the Minority Commission. The draft law has been shared with them as well as all the studies and publications done by BMMA. Draft, publications as well as an appeal to look into the issue of personal law reforms has been sent to the Prime Minister of the country.
In collaboration with Husein Dalwai, BMMA has worked on the suggested amendments to the Dissolution of the Muslim Marriage Act, 1939. While the entire Muslim law needs to be codified, it is more pragmatic to ask for amendment to an already existing law which if accepted by the Parliament will help curb the practice of oral/unilateral divorce.
BMMA has also been engaging with the National Legal Services Authority as well as the Supreme Court of India to understand the process by which amendments or introduction of codified law can be made. The draft law as well as all publications have been sent to these authorities.
On 26th of April, a public meeting was arranged by the West Bengal Unit of BMMA. Zakia Soman the co-founder of BMMA shared the genesis of BMMA, its vision, objectives, activities and campaigns. Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder of BMMA discussed the codified law prepared by BMMA. She shared the salient features of the code and called upon everyone to join in the demand for demanding a gender just Muslim family law. The chief guest, Dr. Osman Ghani gave a very motivating speech. He said a prayer in Islam means to be able to serve the people. He accused the religious leaders for subjugating Muslim women in the name of Islam.
Another discussion on the draft law happened in Bharatnagar, Mumbai with Muslim women. Around 50 Muslim women discussed the draft and gave their comments on it. They were happy to hear that a process like this has been initiated which will eventually help Muslim women get justice.
During the month of Ramzaan, BMMA carried out a photo campaign. 33 testimonies of victims of unilateral divorce were uploaded, one on each day of Ramzaan.
50,000 signatures were collected from across the country demanding a ban on unilateral divorce and the codification of Muslim family law. These signatures were submitted to the various State Women’s Commission and also to the National Women’s Commission.
A letter to PMO’s office was sent demanding legal termination of the practice of unilateral divorce.
Presentation on including Codification issue in the National Women’s Policy. This consultation was called by the State Women’s Commission.
BMMA liaised with prominent individuals like Arif Mohammed Khan, Maulana Wahidduddin, Dr. Tahir Mehmood to discuss BMMA’s law reform campaign.
Many peaceful gatherings were held in different state to condemn the affidavit submitted by the AIMPLB which justified unilateral divorce. Also to condemn the politicisation of the issues by various groups which harms the cause of women’s fight for justice.
In June 2016 BMMA filed a PIL in the Supreme Court supporting Shayra Banu’s petition demanding end to oral divorce.
Research and Publication
- Compilation of 68 case studies of women who have been orally divorced was done in 2012 during the annual conference of BMMA. Victims of oral divorce also shared their experiences in a national public hearing of victims of oral divorce.
- Release of national survey, Seeking Justice Within Family’. This national study of 4710 Muslim women highlighted the demand of Muslim women to end multiple discriminatory practices within the Muslim law. Released in Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi
- Nikahnama of BMMA published in 3 languages,
- The Hindi and English version of the second edition of the Verses of Quran was printed.
- Compilation of 100 case studies from across the state was released during the annual convention of BMMA in Delhi. ‘No More-Talaak, Talaak, Talaak!
Draft Muslim Family Law
BMMA released the draft of Muslim Family Law on 8th June 2014 in Mumbai. The meeting was attended by over 100 people. The participants constituted of national council members, core team members, and few area leaders with their team members and the press. The need for the change in the Muslim Personal Law stems from the fact that there is a well-defined marriage law in place for all other religions except Muslims. This results in the Shariat being interpreted according to one owns convenience eventually culminating into injustice for women. Lawyers, religious leaders, educational teachers, doctorates etc. were consulted from all over India. The survey was conducted in 10 states and 4710 women were interviewed from various parts of India on the current status of Muslim women and the draft brings together these inputs. This draft brings clarity on the age of marriage, the mehr amount, the procedure to avail a divorce, ban or oral divorce/ triple talak, restriction on polygamy, adoption, custody of the child etc. These are all derived from the Quran. Draft was released on Facebook and blog and also in Chennai, Delhi and Pune. It was also sent to National Commission for Women and Minority.
Networking and Outreach
BMMA leaders are regularly invited by different civil society groups, academic institutions, NGOs etc for lectures/ talks on different aspects concerning muslim women. We have been invited to TISS, Jamia University, National Law Schools, Aligarh Muslim University, Institute of Advanced Studies, Mumbai University, Ambedkar University amongst others for talks and on different panels on relevant topics. We regularly make representations to various elected representatives, democratic institutions, government bodies etc on the issues we work on. We stand in solidarity with different social movements and struggle groups regularly participating in their programs and in support of different causes. We work in solidarity with different womens’ organisations, dalit organisations, secular groups, trade unions, civil society groups towards the cause of social justice and equality. We regularly write articles published in different publications on various issues in our work.
BMMA is active in various South Asian networks for furthering people to people processes and towards a just and equitable world order. BMMA is part of Musawah- the global movement for gender justice in Islam.
DARUL ULOOM NISWAAN
BMMA launched Darul Uloom Niswaan [DUN], a centre for Islamic learning and theology for women. As part of this initiative, DUN has begun the training of women qazis. The initiative began in Jaipur with a group of 30 Muslim women who embarked on this journey. This training is the first in the series of a year-long process which will include learnings on theology, history of Islam, Constitution of India, principles and values of Islam, schools of jurisprudence etc. Further training modules through the year will focus on many other important topics like gender equality in Islam, family laws in different Muslim countries etc.
The need to educate Muslim women to become qazis came from the experience of more than two decades. The most common experience and observation was that the Islamic justice system was biased towards men. All qazis are men and tend to take sides with men and it is the women who suffers most in case of family disputes or marital discords. The need was also fueled by the fact that a qazi plays an important role in society. They not only solemnize marriages they also validate divorce. BMMA has observed in its last ten years of work across different states that there is widespread practice of triple talaq and halala in spite of there being no Quranic sanction. Experience suggests that majority of qazis validate unilateral triple divorce. Some qazis play a dubious role in furthering barbaric practices such as halala. BMMA’stwo research reports bear testimony to how Muslim women suffer owing to these unIslamic practices. We feel that more and more women qazis who are trained about Islamic teachings and gender justice principles are the need of the hour. Besides, there is no bar on women qazis as per the Quran. It was felt that women qazis can provide a solution to these ills which afflict our society.
A lot of legal problems faced by Muslim women today can be prevented if the qazi plays his/ her role with responsibility. Women qazi trained by DUN will ensure that underage marriages do not take place, that man is not able to undertake second marriage in the subsistence of the first, that the residence proof of the man and his source of income is ascertained before he enters into a marriage contract. Women qazis will ensure that the mehr amount is received by the bride at the time of nikaah and that both the parties are entering into the marriage alliance out of their free will and not by force or fraud. These preventive measures which even a male qazi can take are not being taken which results in a lot of hardship for the women. Male qazis approve of oral divorce and in fact encourage the Muslim men to unilaterally divorce his wife. They also approve of muta marriages where young girls are duped into entering temporary alliances. This malaise which has rendered so many Muslim women homeless and destitute will be curbed if women who are trained in Islamic values of gender equality and gender justice become qazis. The idea of DUN was born following this.
For the first time in the history of independent India, Muslim women have taken the lead in setting up their own centre of religious learning. For many decades now religious learnings and teaching have been in the hands of men. They have read, translated and interpreted religious scriptures. They have declared themselves the sole arbiters in matters of religion. Women and other non-alim men have been reduced to mere receivers of religious knowledge. As a result a certain kind of religious knowledge has percolated within the community which is not only gender biased but also goes against the very grain of Islam which is justice, equality, compassion and wisdom. DUN is an attempt to reclaim Islam from patriarchal and obscurantist forces and establish the humanist, democratic, gender-just and compassionate version of Islam. The first activity of the Centre has been to initiate a course where Muslim women can become solemnisers of marriage. While BMMA started Aurton ki Shariat Adalat to provide legal aid to Muslim women, with DUN BMMA wants women to become qazis so that at the time of solemnisation of marriage certain values and principles get engrained and certain precautions against injustice to women are ensured. The objectives of the course is to equip Muslim women with knowledge and skills to become qazis and also knowledge about Constitutional law. Muslim women will also become equipped to understand the law drafted by BMMA on Quranic values. Women will also be able to enhance skills, knowledge to solemnise marriages and to conduct all legal activities pertaining to Muslim family law. We hope to have the batch of women qazis by the beginning of 2017.
Auraton Ki Shariat Adalat
Legal aid in India is given by formal and informal legal bodies. For the Muslims legal aid is given through the formal courts run by the state and the informal shariah courts run by religious organisations. These courts are managed by man and needless to say are extremely patriarchal. These bodies are not just managed by men but also give judgments in favour of men. These courts justify their decisions by stating that the shariah is immutable and divine and hence cannot be changed. It does not bother them at all that the decisions that they pronounce in the name of shariah are actually unIslamic and unQuranic. For instance shariah adalats run by men justify oral/unilateral divorce, they coerce women to do halala, and they allow the men to give only 3 month post-divorce maintenance leaving the women unsupported after 3 months. The decisions related to custody of children mainly are in favour of men where he can claim the permanent custody of the boy after 7 years of age and of the girl at puberty. In the light of the discrimination faced by Muslim women in the men-managed shariah courts, BMMA decided to open shariah courts by, of and for Muslim women. We call them the ‘Aurton ki Shariah Adalat’. These were launched in Mumbai, Dindigul and Jaipur in 2013. Till date more than 2000 women have accessed these courts and have received legal aid and guidance. BMMA courts are guided by the Muslim Family Act which has been prepared after 8 years of consultations with women and with persons have legal and religious knowledge. The legal experts in the Aurton ki Shariah Adalat are equipped with religious, constitutional knowledge and laws related to women. They are equipped with counselling skills and are sensitive towards the conditions of women who has been discriminated against and needs justice. The Aurton ki Shariah Adalat is equipped to handle cases of domestic violence, divorce, custody of children, maintenance, sexual harassment and abuse. They liaise with state authorities like the police, courts, other qaziats, lawyers etc and ensures that the women who approaches them gets justice.
Equal Access to Sacred Spaces
In August 2014, BMMA had filed a PIL challenging the restriction which the trustees had imposed on women thereby denying them entry into the sanctum Santorum of the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. After 2 years the High Court on the basis of the constitution termed the restriction as discriminatory and asked the trustees to do away with the discrimination. The Haji Ali dargah trust asked for a six week stay so that they can appeal against the order in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also upheld the judgment of the High Court and based on the Supreme Court’s order the Haji Ali dargah’s sanctum is now open to all women.
The high court judgment was not only a victory of BMMA but a victory of women’s movement and more than that a victory of the constitutional values of equality justice and freedom. It is a landmark judgment which has served to highlight the aspirations and awakening in Muslim women.
Worldwide there is new wave of Islamic feminism where Muslim women are reclaiming religion from patriarchal forces and coming up with completely different meaning and interpretation of holy text. Women are no longer recipients of religious knowledge but creators of it and do not have to depend on men for gaining religious knowledge. In the Indian context we see this victory as the victory of sub altern feminist groups emerging from marginalised sections like the Dalits, Muslims, tribals and women from other dispossessed sections of the society.
The constitution of the country allows its citizens to practice, profess and promote their religion. Secularism is not akin to atheism as per the Indian constitution. Hence it is not appropriate to pitch Constitution against the religion. In fact Muslim women have relied on the basic and core values of Islam which is equality, justice, wisdom and compassion and have seen the similarities between Constitution and the Quran.
Campaign for abolition of Triple Talaq
Reform in muslim personal law has been part of the BMMA mandate. Several steps have been undertaken in this direction. One of the key issues in this long-term goal has been the abolition of triple talaq and nikah halala. We have been documenting cases of triple talaq, holding public hearings, counselling women and men in these matters, writing to government functionaries for abolition of this inhuman practices. In the month of Ramzan in 2016 we shared the testimony of a triple talaq survivor daily for the 30 days. We submitted a memorandum to the National Commission of Women signed by 50,000 women calling for abolition of triple talaq on an urgent basis. We are intensively campaigning towards this end. We have filed a petition in the Supreme Court praying for abolition of triple Talaq and nikah halala and are confident that we will get justice.