Published earlier at: The Hindu
NEW DELHI, May 20, 2012
Without any women in decision making process, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind talks about “women’s right”
The biggest group of Imams in the country, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JUH), passed a resolution on the rights of women on the last day of its two-day public convention at Ramlila Maidan here on Saturday. But Muslim women’s groups have termed the move “cosmetic” and “just an attempt to be politically correct” as the organisation does not have any women in its decision-making bodies.
“The general assembly appeals to all Muslim community to act on Islamic instructions on the rights of women,” said the resolution passed by the gathering of a large number of clerics. Surprisingly, the resolution on women was almost the last item on the agenda, 16 on the list of 17 resolutions.
Ironically, no woman was present on the stage during the convention neither could any woman be seen among the sea of caps and beards.
Wary of any negative publicity over the alleged absence of Muslim women in JUH, its spokesperson Maulana Abdul Hameed Nomani said on the sidelines of the convention that as an organisation JUH was open to both genders. He, however, accepted that the JUH has no women’s wing.
Reacting to the resolution, Zakia Soman, a founder member of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), said: “It is completely ridiculous. If we demand any change in the system, the initiative for change has to start from our home. What kind of women’s right they are they talking about when they do not have any women member in their decision making process?”
“The JUH is an organisation of Muslim males who decide for Muslim women without their representation. If at all the organisation has talked about women’s right, I think it is just a move to be politically correct because of late these religious organisations have been asked questions regarding their stand on the condition of women in the Muslim community,” added Ms Soman, who has been at the forefront of codification of the Muslim Personal Law.
Ms. Soman emphasised that the condition of Muslim women was not going to change by just passing a resolution. “You have to focus on the condition of women. I don’t think the JUH has been sensitive to the plight of Muslim women,” she added.
Shabnam Hashmi, who has been working with Muslim women through ANHAD, criticised the JUH move saying: “We don’t accept any women’s right within any religious framework. We demand equal rights to women within the constitutional framework.”
Among other prominent resolutions passed by JUH was the demand that Union Government pass the Bill on communal violence without making any distinction on the basis of “majority” or “minority”, an aspect of the National Advisory Council (NAC)-drafted ‘Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparation) Bill 2011 which was opposed by several political parties including the BJP.
“We demand that the Government should ensure accountability of public servants and hold them responsible for communal and targeted violence,” said the resolution on the communal violence Bill.
Proportional reservation for Muslims and setting up of fast-track courts for “justice to Muslim youths illegally picked up in terror cases” were some of other demands of JUH.