Muslim Women Campaigning Against Triple Talaq Attacked in Mumbai

As the dust surrounding the issue of abolition of triple talaq and reform in Islam refuses to settle, another altercation took place on Friday in Govandi, (Mumbai), where local women running a signature campaign against the controversial practice of instant divorce were allegedly ill-treated and abused verbally by some of the locals.

Triple talaq
Representational Image: Indiatimes

Women activists from CORO India and Mahila Mandal Foundation who were running a signature campaign in the eastern suburbs of Mumbai this week, raising demands for reforms in Islam, were attacked and abused by a group of men. The squabble took place on Friday evening when some men led by local religious leaders accused the women of conducting anti-Islamic activities.

Mumtaz Sheikh, women empowerment programme coordinator, CORO told Sabrangindia, “We were attacked and abused by them. They even tried to manhandle some of our women. We were asking them to have a legit discussion with us, talk to us about their concerns, but they didn’t listen to us.”

Sheikh also claimed that announcements have been made from the local mosques of the Trombay-Chemur area, warning locals to be wary of CORO Foundation. “They have circulated misleading and false messages on WhatsApp to defame CORO and our work among women, calling us anti-Islamic,” she added. “Since after the scuffle, the number women willing to sign have significantly decreased.”

Agar chaar shadiyaan nahi karenge to kya hamari bewa auraton ko kothe pe bithayenge kya?” (If men are prohibited from marrying four women, should we send our widows to the brothels?) — Samajwadi Party Leader,Abu Asim Azmi

Confirming the incident, a Sanjay Nagar-based preacher, who had opposed the campaign by CORO said, “We regret that such an incident happened there. I apologise on behalf of the men who mistreated our sisters. We do not doubt their intention, but the solution that these women want implemented is un-Islamic. We are against that.”

Opposing the idea of reforms in Islam, he said, “The Holy Quran is not man-made. It is Allah's words. It does not have any error that needs to be rectified. It has all the right laws and regulations; we’re just not aware of them. People need to alter their behavior, and not the law. Some men, who are mistreating their wives, are bringing a bad name to our religion. That needs to be stopped. Quran is, of course, against any form of injustice.”

In the pamphlets distributed by the NGO, four demands have been listed for which consent of the Muslim women is being sought. Abolition of triple talaq, codification of Muslim law, adaptation of model nikaahnama and registration of marriages are the key four demands among those.

“We have been talking to the women from Muslim-predominant areas like Lotus garden, Shivaji Nagar, Bainganwadi and Vashi Naka, about the problems with the practice of triple talaq and tried to unite them for the cause of pro-women reforms, so that our voices get heard. But none of the women were forced to sign if they didn’t share our point of view. Their questions and queries were duly addressed and only after that they were asked to sign for the campaign.”

The NGO claims to have received close to 5,500 signatures supporting the proposed reforms.

Azmi’s Controversial Remark

While there’s been a strong opposition from various Muslim organisations and circles to the idea of implementation of uniform civil code or reforms in the religion, a controversial remark was apparently made by Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA Abu Asim Azmi.

Muslim women from Azmi’s constituency, who had gone to an ‘aamsabha’ (a meeting with the locals) quoted him as saying, “Agar chaar shadiyaan nahi karenge to kya hamari bewa auraton ko kothe pe bithayenge kya?” (If men are prohibited from marrying four women, should we send our widows to the brothels?) This quote had offended the women (who were present in small numbers for the meeting) and they had left the meeting.

When asked about his alleged remark during the aam sabha, Azmi told Sabrangindia, “My comment has been misinterpreted. Understand its motive. Hum unse galat kaam nahi karawa sakate hain na! (We can’t let the get involved in the wrong kind of work.) I was talking about my own mother and sister.”

When it was brought to his notice that the gender ratio of India would not require a man to take care of multiple women, he said, “Who is doing that in India then? Who is marrying four women? Hardly anyone — only in exceptional cases.”

He further expressed his staunch opposition to the idea of abolition of triple talaq. “Sharia is sacrosanct. We need to take some measures on community level to ensure justice to Muslim women. The law does not need to be amended for that,” he asserted.

Also read: Triple Talaq: Imams across India to give Sermons on Muslim Women’s Rights Every Friday

Also read: "Indian Muslim Women will Walk with the Quran in One Hand and the Constitution in the Other," Shaista Amber

Also read: Noorjehan Safia Niaz on the rights of Indian Muslim Women



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