Women-led religious group embarks on Muslim personal laws awareness, opposes UCC

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The Sharia Committee for Women (SCW) — a women-led Muslim group based in Hyderabad — has embarked on a campaign to raise awareness among Muslim women about Muslim personal laws, even as the group expressed its opposition to the UCC.

The group’s president Asma Zehra, who is also a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), said that online and offline programmes are in the offing, with a workshop already having been conducted. The SCW’s current initiative is independent of the AIMPLB’s activities, she clarified.

The SCW’s move comes in the backdrop of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) efforts to introduce a uniform civil code (UCC) in the country. A number of socio-religion and political organisations have expressed their opposition.

“While a three-day workshop was already conducted, online and offline sessions on property rights, marriage, and divorce laws, and the rights of women in connection with these aspects will be a part of the awareness programme. Muslim personal laws do not cause obstacles, neither in the way of women, nor in the way of the country,” Dr. Zehra said. “For instance, the talaq-e-ahsan and talaq-e-hasan are a protection from divorce cases that go on in court for six or seven years. Islamically, they will be divorced, but not in the eyes of the law. That creates problems and eventually, the Muslim women have to face many issues, including financial ones.”

According to Dr. Zehra, the SCW, which was a petitioner in the hijab ban case, comprises a core group of 40 women, with several associate members. Efforts to expand its presence in other cities and States are underway.

The SCW submitted its response to the Law Commission on the question of the UCC. “The UCC will take away the liberty, freedom, and choice of following religion. UCC would hinder religious autonomy and undermine the cultural diversity and multicultural fabric of a nation like India thereby taking away the liberty of tribals and minority communities, including Muslim women, and will deprive all of us from the basic fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution,” an excerpt from their response reads.

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