‘A man can leave a barren woman after eight years and one who only gives birth to daughters’
We blame Taliban for the miserable condition of Muslim women in Afghanistan; we condemn Sudanese court for ordering 100 lashes to a woman journalist as a punishment for wearing trousers; but do we know the same things are happening in India, in a slightly different form.
Yes India, I am talking of India, where women are denied maintenance after their husbands have divorced them for the simple reason that they do not vote; where they are left at the mercy of some state religious boards for bread and butter of her children; where CrPC which applies to all citizens of India but do not apply to them because they do not constitute vote bank, where – in Gentlemen’s language we call this SECULARISM.
Confused, let me tell u a story of an Indian women. Her name is Shah Bano. Shah Bano, a 62 year old Muslim woman and mother of five from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, was divorced by her husband Mohammad Ahmad Khan in 1978. Under Muslim Family Law, the husband just needs to say the sentence “Talaq, Talaq, Talaq” meaning “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you” (muslim women are of course not allowed to do this) before two witnesses for a valid divorce. Immediately after this Khan married another women.
Shah Bano, because she had no means to support herself and her children, approached the courts for securing maintenance from her husband. When the case reached the Supreme Court of India, seven years had elapsed. The Supreme Court invoked Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, which applies to everyone REGARDLESS of caste, creed, or religion. It ruled that Shah Bano be given maintenance money, similar to alimony.
The famous story ends here for most of our intelligentsia classes. Hail Supreme Court of India, Hail Rule of Law, Hail Secularism and Hail Art 14 (right to equality). But excuse me, the story isn’t over. The darker side is yet to begin.
The orthodox Muslims in India felt threatened by what they perceived as an encroachment of the Muslim Personal Law, and protested loudly at the judgment. They formed an organization known as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and agitated in large numbers in all major cities.
The then Prime Minister, Rajeev Gandhi, representing ‘Indian National Congress’ which is an icon of India’s Secularism and the Messiah of minorities in India, considered this judgment as anti-secular and harsh on minorities mainly aimed to destroy their age old culture and traditions.
Rajiv Gandhi began increasingly taking advice of the conservative ZA Ansari rather that the liberal progressive Muslim leader Mohammad Arif Khan (then Minister of State for Home Affairs), who had supported the Supreme Court judgment and thus in 1986, the Congress party, which had an absolute majority in Parliament at the time, passed an act “Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986” that nullified the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Shah Bano case and curtailed the right of a Muslim women for maintenance under sec 125 CrPC. This act upheld the Muslim Personal Law and writ as excerpted below:
“Every application by a divorced woman under section 125… of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, pending before a magistrate on the commencement of this Act shall, notwithstanding anything contained in that code… be disposed of by such magistrate in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
According to the stated objects of the Act, when a Muslim divorced woman is unable to support herself after the period that she must observe after the death of her spouse or after a divorce, (during which she may not marry another man), the Magistrate is empowered to make an order for the payment of maintenance by her relatives only. All the husband was obliged to do was provide three month’s maintenance. But when a divorced woman has no such relatives, or if her relatives does not have enough means to pay the maintenance, the magistrate would order the State Waqf Board to pay the maintenance. The ‘liability’ of husband to pay the maintenance was thus restricted to the period of the iddat only.
In her native Indore, Shah Bano was denounced by conservatives as an infidel; demonstrations were held outside her house and neighbours were asked to ostracize her. On 15 November, Shah Bano succumbed to the pressure, affixing her thumb impression to a statement saying that she disavowed the Supreme Court verdict, that she would donate the maintenance money to charity and that she opposed any judicial interference in Muslim personal law (LONG LIVE DEMOCRACY!!!).
In the same country, on one hand where Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain women have right to receive maintenance throughout her life (if they do not remarry), the Muslim women have been denied these rights because India is a secular country where minorities are protected. Their interests are kept above all, but only on the condition that they vote. In typical Indian Muslim society, women are tied inside the house (like a chattel tied with a rope, and allowed to go out only with their masters), it is impossible for them to go to the polling booth to exercise their constitutional rights. A true secular democracy. No vote, No privileges. They deserve to rot in their wounds and die, with their husbands celebrating their deaths because now they can get another (4th one) without even having to pay maintenance till iddat period.
So what is available to all the women just by the dint of being an Indian citizen, is barred to a Muslim women, because the party claiming to be messiah of minorities and deity of secularism (which has recently announced a proposal for 10% Muslim quota in Govt. Jobs) wanted to appease Muslim men and safeguard Muslim vote bank.
Even Mohammad Arif Khan after resigning from the Rajiv Gandhi’s government said, “Indian Muslim women will be the only women to be denied maintenance anywhere in the world”.
A husband should be worshiped as a God. Women should not care for his beauty, nor their attention be fixed on age; they should give themselves to the handsome as well as to the ugly just for the fact that he is a man.
– (the same) Manusmriti
LONG LIVE (PSEUDO) SECULARISM.