Posted by Bebaak Collective
We, Bebaak Collective and concerned individuals who have been following the Triple Talaq judgement in all its ramifications and have been associated with various social movements, urge our fellow women’s groups and human rights groups to reflect on the role of the conservative right-wing forces in the aftermath of the Triple Talaq judgment of 22nd August 2017.
The honourable Supreme Court of India invalidated the practice of instant one-sided Triple Talaq in its three–two division bench historic judgment, implying that the Muslim couple continues to be wedded even when the man utters talaq arbitrarily. However, the current government took a regressive step and introduced a Bill criminalizing the practice and bestows power in the hands of any third party to complain against the errant husband.
This is a blatant move to criminalize the community without taking cognizance of the living struggles of Muslim women or questions regarding their social security. This Bill is introduced without going into any participatory process of consultation with women’s groups, or with an expert committee. Besides, it is leaving no stone unturned to pass the Bill, and whoever critiques this government’s move is being maligned.
In the aftermath of this Bill, there is also a serious backlash towards various progressive voices and incessant mobilization of humongous numbers of Muslim women by conservative Muslim forces often led by AIMPLB (All India Muslim Personal Law Board) and other religious organizations, who are on the streets proclaiming “Islam is in danger” and vociferously challenges the criminalizing Bill as introduced by the government.
These images of women occupying streets bring back the memory of Shah Bano’s times when Muslim men took out rallies demanding an overturn of the Shah Bano judgement of 1986. We strongly oppose the criminalization of Triple Talaq Bill but are not against the changes in Muslim Personal Law, which curb women’s rights.
While we unequivocally resist this government’s move to criminalize the practice as we firmly believe that gender rights cannot be equated with the criminalization of violence, we equally resist the role of conservative Muslim voices who are mobilizing women to defend patriarchal practices and equating women’s rights with the protection of religion.
Our engagement with AIMPLB has been for several years now and it is astounding how they are mobilizing women now and did not occupy the streets to protest the beef ban or demand implementations of the Sachar Committee Report that talks about the education, livelihood and economic condition of minority women. This framing of Muslim women within the context of marriage reinforces the marriage institution as the sole location of women’s lives and marital crisis as the primary sites of violence, going beyond economic exploitation or other forms of structural violence that disempowers her.
We strongly believe that the right-wing groups have united with various political parties and religious organizations to oppress the voices of all progressive Muslim women who created democratic spaces for themselves and are talking differently and opposing the bill from a gender rights perspective. This is indeed a very important and crucial departure from the religious perspective and does not talk about taking pride in sharia.
AIMPLB, along with all other religious groups, drew a conspiracy and mobilized Muslim women in the name of religion, by giving a call, “Islam Khatre Mein Hai” which is not just problematic but also propaganda, as it sidelines women’s issues and highlights religious faith. Whenever women stepped out and voiced their struggles, their issues have been forcibly shadowed by the arguments of “threat to religion“.
These groups have become successful in implementing their propaganda by mobilizing women to support the rallies and post photos of themselves saying “My Sharia My Pride“, who claim to be progressive and feminists. This is not just saddening but also threatening to the struggles of all Muslim women who have been fighting against patriarchal practices that occur under the blanket of religion by questioning Personal Law, religious groups and also repressive praxis of state-sponsored violence.
We also believe that these majoritarian right-wing groups feed the minority right-wing and give them strength to exhibit their tokenistic approach towards women’s rights by pushing away women’s voices in leadership/decision-making roles, in total. The role of AIMPLB, religious groups and political parties in the issues of Muslim women threatens decades of Muslim women’s struggles and tries to further oppress Muslim women.
In this conundrum, the government’s equating of gender rights with retribution and AIMPLB’s face as the protector of Islam poses political impasses. The right-wing government threatens criminalization which inadvertently makes Muslim women more vulnerable and treats them as the pawn in their larger Hindutva agenda. The conservative voices within the community move to protect religion, equating reforms in Personal Law with debilitation of faith and religion.
While each stakeholder shows concern for gender rights and poses numerical strength to advocate their agenda, the history of the women’s movement, which has imagined and re-imagined social realities of women, is getting muted. It is this unholy alliance of the Hindu right-wing wing forces and the conservatives of the community that mars the complexity of Muslim women’s lived realities.
This discredits the female leadership of the community and also erodes the democratic spaces that have been created by them. We seek our fellow groups and concerned individuals to introspect the way things have unfolded and imagine newer ways in which gender justice can be articulated.
Bastar Solidarity Network
Dimple Oberoi Vahali
Marieme Helie Lucas
Kamayani Bali Mahabal
Women Living Under Muslim Laws, London
HUMSAFAR Support Centre for Women, Lucknow, UP
Featured Image Credit: India Tv News