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Muslim women's collective calls triple talaq gender discriminatory, patriarchal, says issue whether it's Islamic

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded statement, Ahmedabad’s Parwaaz Sangathan’s Bebaak Collective – an autonomous organization which works for encouraging reading, learning and sharing processes among Muslim women over the last three years in Gujarat and other states – has said that triple talaq is “gender discriminatory and epitomizes patriarchal values, and therefore must be abolished.”
Signed by two senior activists, Khairunnisha Pathan and Samina Malek, who call the collective “a strong feminist voice of dissent in the environment of majoritarian politics, speaking for the rights of Muslim women”, the statement says, the issue is not whether the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s (AIMPLB’s) affidavit to the Supreme Court claiming triple talaq is Islamic or un-Islamic.
“The occasion of this statement issued by the organization is that growing numbers of Muslim women’s petitions challenging the constitutionality of triple talaq in the apex court”, the statement says.
It adds, “This is the only reason why it, as part of women’s movement and practicing feminists working with Muslim community and women has taken the liberty to “write this statement condemning the recent affidavit posed by AIMPLB.”
The AIMPLB’s affidavit, the statement says, has four parts:
  • First, abolition of triple talaq is (un)Quaranic; 
  • Second, since women lack decision making abilities, it is only men of the community who should have this right; 
  • Third, polygamy is Islamic though not promoted and this practice ensures marital rights for Muslim women, banning of which will tantamount to promiscuous sexual practices or murder of women in hands of their husbands; and
  • Fourth, the honorable Supreme Court of India has no right to intervene in the religious law of the community. 
Refuting point by point the AIMPLB affidavit, the statement says, “First, whether the practice of unilateral triple talaq is validated by religion or not is not our contention, rather it is gender discriminatory and epitomizes patriarchal values and therefore must be abolished should be emphasized”, the statement says.
“Second”, it says, “the belief that women lack decision making qualities dilutes the citizenship rights of Muslim women in India who have been exercising their electoral rights for more than sixty years now.”
“Third”, it says, “polygamy ensures marital rights for Muslim women and prevents death threats; and its erasure will increase promiscuous sexuality is not only conservative but also challenges the principle of ‘equality’ enshrined by our Indian Constitution for women who are being treated as second class citizens as compared to their male counterparts of the community.”
And fourth, it says, “that Supreme Court cannot intervene in the personal law eliminates the possibility of Article 14 which promises equal rights to the citizens within Indian territory across religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.”
“It is no surprise that AIMPLB has not progressed over the decades and reiterates the same position which reverberates the patriarchal conservative ideas of the community”, the statement says, adding, “However, we envision a gender-just law for the community where women’s question of social security and rights promised by the Indian Constitution will be practiced.”
It further says, “We do not believe in progressive or regressive interpretation of religion or codification of Muslim Personal Law for we believe that in every community there are multiple realities of an identity, multiple practices of beliefs and pluralist envisions of family structure.” 
The statement adds, “We, therefore, emphasize on acknowledgement of women’s rights which are otherwise controlled in the name of religion, purity or chastity or even in the garb of ‘protecting’ women.”
The statement underlines, “This statement is not only an emphatic on resistance to the religious organizations like AIMPLB but also a call to reiterate feminist vision of gender just laws for Muslim women who are also rightfully Indian citizens.”

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