Plight of Muslim women: Who cares?

Mullahs, Muslim men are blind to gender indignities

Sometime ago, Vimochana, a Bengaluru-based forum for women’s rights organised an 'Aapa ki Adalat' with six Muslim women who had gruesome accounts to narrate about being tortured by their husbands. They had earlier been to various shariah courts in various mosques but were unable to tell their tale as these were shameful accounts of sexual torture which they found difficult to narrate before men.
Vimochana, headed by Ms. Donna Fernandes, Madhu Bhushan, Shakuni etc gathered some leading Muslim social activists and made a few Muslim men like us sit behind a curtain to listen to their woes. Vimochana encouraged the Muslim community to have their own organisation to listen to, counsel and rehabilitate Muslim women who have been driven out of their homes, are locked in marital disputes, have been victims of domestic violence, or at the hands of alcoholic husbands.
So we helped Sajida Aapa in Bangalore to set up 'Aasra Home for Women' where there is a facility for keeping such women for three months. We get cases of Muslim women from police stations who ask us to settle these disputes within the community rather than taking to courts, police and jails. Sometime such women call Sajida Aapa and Aasra from other states which we are not able to accommodate. 
Recently Parveen Taj, 42 who was released from Mysore jail after passing a 12-year sentence (she had murdered her husband due to constant torture from that rascal), went knocking at the Jail's door to take her back as society was not accepting her. She was turned away from her brother's house. Her daughter had been married and settled in life and two sons had been taken away by a cousin. Other members of the house had moved to another location in order to get away from the infamy in the small town of Srirangapatna. The kind jailer approached a Hindu community run Nari Niketan to accommodate her as she could not be taken back inside prison.

The world judges us by our social, economic, intellectual standing among communities, not by claims that are mostly bogus, fake, false and farcical. 
We never tire of proclaiming that Islam is a religion of peace, justice and equality. But do we Muslims ever think about the plight of such women? Aasra is in talks with Niketan to see that Parveen Taj is rehabilitated. I wonder if we have such a facility anywhere in the country. I wish the answer is a ‘yes’ from somewhere.  Our clerics are totally unaware and unconcerned about what happens to women in our society. They feel everything is, will be, hunky dory if they are women accept the subordination of their men. This of course suits men who happily follow the clerics.    
It is easy to state in the Supreme Court that men and women are equal in Islam but difficult to work in a society where women are totally subjugated due to their low education, no economic clout and social pressure not to speak up against their men. Speeches are capable of going global. But practical action is always local and hardly gets any limelight. 
We must drop all these pretences to being supreme among all religions, best among all communities and bearers of the pristine Divine message. The world judges us by our social, economic, intellectual standing among communities, not by claims that are mostly bogus, fake, false and farcical. 
MA Siraj is a Bengaluru based journalist and activist.



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