Muslim Personal Law and Gender Equality

On April 23rd 2016, a women’s rights activists group called the Bebaak Collective organized a rally in support of Shayarna Bano who had challenged the legality of the ‘instant talaq practice’in the Court. This case also challenged the practice of Polygamy under the Muslim law and hence has been moved to the Supreme Court in February 2016.  Bano is the first woman to challenge these practices citing her Fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution. While the debates on the existence of a personal law being a hindrance to gender equality have been persisting since 1984 after the Shah Bano Judgment, an organization called Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan released a report which recorded upto 100 cases of triple talaq last November. Are personal laws violative of fundamental rights too? These women take upon themselves to answer these questions.

Women & Water

With a horrible draught that a good number of India is facing, women face the larger brunt of the water scarcity. Water wars have been happening in many parts of the country, and women trekking large distances to collect water for households is common knowledge. However, there is a little positive news in Tehri District of Uttarakhand. While for years together in the village, women walked for hours to access water for daily use, a new project set up in their village is like their dream come true as the water problem in their area has been solved. The Tata Trusts has undertaken in 133 villages in the Himalayan parts of Uttrakhand  creating equitable access to potable water through the Water Supply and Sanitation (WATSAN). This ensures that the water from the Natural Spring is tapped through a gravity flow system that makes water reach up to the village. Women in this village are finally relieved from their problem of water scarcity.

Indian Women In Sports

Sportswomen of India have become the inspiration to our country by accomplishing various achievements in their respective field and hence changing the perceptions of the society. A few of them being:

  • Marathon runner Sudha Singh has secured a Rio Olympics slot, after finishing second in the 3000m steeplechase event at the Federation Cup in Delhi on the 30th of April.
  • Race winner Lalita Babar, who is already  Rio bound, broke her own national record to win gold on the penultimate day of the event.
  • Dutee Chand from Odisha had clocked 11.33 seconds in Women’s 100m dash and hence made the new National record at the National Circuit Athletic Meet held at Thiruvanthapuram.
  • Deepika Kumari had equaled the World Record at the Shanghai World cup by tallied a score of 686 out of 720 in the qualifying round held by Ki Boe Bae of South Korea. Jo Areum of Korea finished second with a score of 676 while Lisa Unruh of Germany finished third with a score of 672.

The Sex Offenders Registry

The government has now come out with yet another plan – to set up a sex offenders registry, which will consist of publicly available data of all sex offenders including juveniles. It is a “reform” apparently. While what we really need are faster courts and crisis centers in all districts, a sex offenders registry does not serve any purpose in deterring sexual crimes. As rightly pointed out here, Sex Offenders Registries in the US or UK are aimed primarily at protecting children from sexual predators, in India the move seems motivated in large part by the wish to erode child protection and juvenile justice laws. Also, there is no data to support that those convicted for sex offenses of adults, repeat these said offenses. It basically seems like a knee jerk reaction or a carefully planned non-solution.

Pinjra Tod – Hindu College Girls’ Hostel

Delhi University’s Hindu College has built a new girls’ hostel, and along with it introduced sexist rules to stay & access the hostel. While, the boys’ hostel has barely any restrictions, the girls have restrictions including timings and mobility. The prospectus of the hostel also states that residents will be required to seek permission from the warden when they participate in an event happening inside the college premises. Pinjra Tod has a petition ready for you to sign, so that they can negotiate their way out of these regressive rules. Go, ahead and sign.

What We’re Reading

A young woman writes about what it is like to have sex in Pakistan. And we understand, somewhat empathize, and in general get caught up with the beauty of her prose which combines personal experiences with the society that she was raised in. Thank you for this!

A study with 32 transgender children, ages 5 to 12, done at University of Washington, indicates that the gender identity of these children is deeply held and is not the result of confusion about gender identity or pretense.

We all like Kangana Ranaut and we follow her interviews with as much interest as some of her movies. And, hence this article titled, “If she’s successful, sexually frank like Kangana, she must be a witch?” we highly recommend.

Featured Image Credit: Hindu College along with text mentioning that it is a cage in the making | change.org

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