Skip to main content

Nehru's niece Nayantara Sahgal joins UK women to protest "discriminatory" review of Sharia courts in Britain

By Our Representative
Women's rights campaigners, not just of Britain but also US, Canada, western European countries, Egypt, Turkey, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, have written a strongly-worded open letter to the country’s Home Secretary raising serious concerns about the government's independent review into “discriminatory” Sharia courts in Britain.
The letter accused the independent review of having “limited scope” because of its “inappropriate theological approach”, adding, it would do nothing to address the discriminatory effect and intent of the courts on private and family matters.
Those who have signed the letter from India include Jawaharlal Nehru’s niece Nayantara Sahgal, a well-known writer and campaigner for secularism, who shot into prominence following her decision to return the Sahitya Akademi Award in protest against the NDA government’s failure to safeguard cultural diversity. Others from India are Bader Sayeed, founder-president of Roshni; Hasina Khan, feminist activist of Bebaak Collective; Kuljit Kaur, Women’s Rights Campaigner; Madhu Mehra, Partners for Law in Development; and the organization Partners for Law in Development.
The letter was organized by UK-based activists Pragna Patel of the Southall Black Sisters, Gina Khan and Maryam Namazie or the One Law for All, and Gita Sahgal of the (Centre for Secular Space.
The letter states that, rather than taking a human rights approach, the UK government has constituted a panel and terms of reference more suited to a discussion in theology than one which serves the needs of victims whose human rights are violated.
The letter states that by making these religious appointments, the government has lost a vital opportunity to examine the discriminatory nature of not only Sharia bodies but all forms of religious arbitration fora including the Batei Din.
Giving examples, Nizamie says in an email alert, “The panel chair, Mona Siddiqui is herself a theologian. One of the scholars, Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi, is the joint secretary for Majlis Ulama-e-Shia, which sends delegations to the Islamic Republic of Iran. In his sermons, he has supported the death penalty in Islamic states, advised Muslims to go into government “and change the system” and says women dressed in "tight clothing" are "corrupted".”
Then, she says, there is Qari Muhammad Asim, who speaks of "men retain[ing] their wives in marriage" and sees women in relation to their male guardian: "Each women is someone’s mother, daughter, sister or wife". He also trivialises violence against women by saying "women as well as men can be victims of domestic abuse".
“Both the scholars advising the panel are on Imams Online”, the Nizamie says, adding, “Khola Hasan, a judge at the Islamic Sharia Council, is a contributing editor to Imam Online. Clearly, Imams and Islamic scholars cannot investigate themselves” (click HERE to see video).
Referring to "Women and Sharia Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK" by Elham Manea published in May 2016, Nizamie says, it documents the “harmful” and “life threatening” consequences for vulnerable minority women in matters pertaining to the family.
“Testimonials gathered by campaigners highlight some of the emotional, mental and physical effects of the courts on women and children”, she adds.
The letter seeks to establish a thorough and impartial judge-led human rights investigation, which will fully examine arbitration in family matters, and whether violations of human rights are condoned or even promoted by Sharia bodies.
The violation of human rights being condoned, Nizamie says, include women's testimony being worth half that of a man's, marital rape, sexual violence and domestic abuse, the age of consent, guardianship, forced marriage, honour based violence, ritual abuse, child custody and child protection, polygamy, divorce, sexuality, inheritance, inter-religious relationships, female dress codes and abortion.
The letter says, “Broader issues such as the treatment of religious minorities including minority sects in Islam and decisions pertaining to apostasy and blasphemy must also be examined to understand the full range of threats faced by people affected by religious laws, and indeed, by the State promoting these laws.”
It adds, “The law and not religion is the key basis for securing justice for all citizens. Campaigners urge the government to do the right thing and ensure that the same principles of human rights, equality before the law, duty of care, due diligence and the rule of law are applicable to all British citizens.”

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.