India: Fasting of Muslim women for their rights

Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre
The Tamil Nadu Muslim Women’s Jamaat has been initiated by the muslim women who are victimized by the male chauvinistic one sided Jamaats.
The aim of the Jamaat is to ensure human rights, social empowerment and improved standard of living to themselves and to other Muslim women in the society.
This Muslim Women Jamaat Committee has conducted one day fasting at Madurai on 11.8.04. The intention of the one day fasting is to emphasis the need for extending the welfare schemes of the government towards muslim women and to form an institution or forum to control the activities of the one sided jamaats because of whom muslim women have lost their lives and future. Hence the Tamil Nadu Muslim Women’s Jamaat Committee has forwarded its demands to central and state governments and religious institutions entitled to serve for the muslim community.

The demands made to central and state governments are that:

The central and state government should take necessary arrangements to extend its reservations and scholarships schemes for the welfare of the muslim women, which is already in existence for the deprived sections of the society; the government should change the category of the muslim community from backward class to most backward class. It should include the muslim community in the list of below poverty line and the government should declare that talaq through telephone, e-mail and post or through qasi will not be accepted as divorce. Instead divorce through court under legal procedure will be accepted.

The jamaat also made demands for the recognized religious institutions for muslim women: a few of the demands were that, common Nikah Nama should be implemented. As Islam considers dowry as a sin (Haram), Jamaat should not conduct marriages of the Muslim community that receive dowry. Mehar amount given by the bride groom should be of sizeable amount to safeguard the life of the bride and it should be given during the marriage itself. The age of the bride should be at least 21 and all marriages conducted by the jamaat should be registered. Legal action should be taken against informal marriages and justice should be sought in favour of women. Marriages should be conducted only after receiving medical certificate by the bride and bride grooms about their physical fitness for marriage. Marriages should be conducted only to bride grooms able to chant the five ‘kalimas’.

This one day fast was organized by Tamil Nadu Women Jamaat Committee and coordinated by STEPS Women’s Development Organization, near Union Office, Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu.