Photo: The women this newspaper talked to voiced concerns over whether the SC order would be adhered to or not.
How Female Qazis Took the Law into Their Own Hands
The Role of Women in Preventing Violent Extremism in Asia
'I'm Not Scared': Loose Women's Saira Khan Hits Back at 'Cowardly' Trolls
Jamaat-E-Islami, Pakistan, Holds Seminar on ‘Role of Women In Reforming System’
Lucky To Be an Emirati Woman Today, Says Inventor
Buoyed By Talaq Verdict, KCR Targets Arab Marriages
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Muslim Women Welcome Ban on Triple Talaq, Are Cautiously Optimistic
By Anshika Ravi | New Delhi | 27 August, 2017
The women this newspaper talked to voiced concerns over whether the SC order would be adhered to or not.
A majority of Muslim women have welcomed the Supreme Court’s verdict of striking down the contentious practice of instant triple talaq—under which a Muslim man could divorce his wife by uttering the word “talaq” thrice—but have also expressed doubts about the implementation of the order. While the mood among Muslim youth is mostly that of subtle, cautious optimism, a few of them have voiced reservations about the issue as having been “politicised” because of the court’s “intervention in the community’s religious matters”.
“The practice of instant triple talaq was mostly followed inside the homes of the illiterate or the uneducated. I support the verdict precisely for the reason that it will help these women to take matters into their hands legally. Some helpers at home have been humiliated and threatened by their husbands on account of abandoning them, just like that. Women should not be living in fear of being divorced in such a manner,” Hena Jafri, a Pune-based journalist, said.
Reiterating the same, positive sentiment, Zainab Ahmed, a journalist, said that she supports the striking down of instant triple talaq, for the practice, despite having found absolutely no mention in the Quran, gave the “bigots” and the mullahs an upper hand over women by allowing them to continue with the practice in the name of Shariah.
“The verdict is just a step on the road, and other oppressive practices like polygamy and nikah halala also need to be brought down,” she said.
Instant triple talaq, also known as Talaq-e-biddat, is pronounced by the husband thrice in a sitting, or through phone, or in written in a talaqnama. The divorce is considered immediate and irrevocable, even if the man wishes to reconcile later. The only way for him to get back to his wife is through a nikah halala, which requires the woman to get remarried and consummate the second marriage, only to seek divorce, observe a three-month iddat period and return to her first husband. During the course, the legality of the divorce is not sought or even questioned.
According to Saman Fatami, a doctor, the procedure of instant triple talaq was considered valid only during the initial period of Islam. But later several Islamic institutions simply adopted the practice to even ordinary cases of marital dispute, she added.
“The institutions that encouraged and misused the Islamic law are guilty of avoiding over 90% of Muslim divorces. Thereby, this verdict is a welcome step as it will help stop the misuse of the Islamic law,” Saman added.
However, a few Muslim women expressed mild resentment while questioning the “political agenda” behind the judgment.
“When matters related to one’s religion are confronted, people try to protect their religion above anything else. Instant triple talaq is a case of abject misuse of the Islamic law, but aren’t laws flouted everywhere? The practice of dowry still continues. A specific community, I believe, shouldn’t have been singled out when such practices are equally rampant in other communities too,” Fatima (name changed), said.
She added that while the move is a step towards bringing gender justice for Muslim women, the impression that Islam doesn’t give women rights is fundamentally flawed.
“Women, too, can initiate divorce by the practice of Khula. It is just that women are not much aware of the rights the Islamic law has given them,” she asserted. According to Jafri, the number of women using Khula to divorce their husbands is not any less than that used by men (triple talaq) to do the same.
Zara (name changed) said that a sudden interference in the age-old practice cannot be accepted suddenly and whole-heartedly.
“The move is a welcome step for it addresses the concern of women who have been wronged. But there is disappointment among some Muslims of how this 1,400-year-old practice has come to be suddenly targeted in the past two years. Cases like these have been happening since decades,” she said.
All the Muslim women this newspaper talked to voiced apprehensions on whether the order will be adhered to or not.
“This is just a verdict, not legislation. So I am doubtful of Muslim men strictly following it, or even taking it seriously,” said Fatima, adding that the verdict may not be a deterrent for men who divorce their wives through such a practice.
Talking to The Sunday Guardian, Rebecca John, a senior Supreme Court lawyer, strongly dismissed the alleged politicisation of the verdict.
“Only and only the Supreme Court could have given this verdict. It needs to be understood that no political party could have brought out this judgment. It has been passed because the women who were wronged challenged the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court rightfully delivered justice,” she said.
“When you look at the gender-based unjust laws across the country, every religion follows practices that are unjust to women. So this allegation of the court or political parties looking down upon a particular religion is completely bizarre,” Rebecca John added. She further added that the verdict has not gone the full distance when it comes to addressing other social problems among Muslims, but said that the verdict is a good, first step towards achieving the same.
How female qazis took the law into their own hands
Himanshi Dhawan | TNN | Aug 27, 2017
The BMMA, which led the triple talaq fight, has given legal training to 13 Muslim women in another step towards gender equality
Qazi Jahan Ara brooks no nonsense. When a woman came to her, saying her husband had pronounced triple talaq in a fit of anger, Jahan Ara got down to work. Over the next four or five months, she and her Jaipur-based colleagues counselled, mediated and lodged police complaints in the hope that the husband would reconsider his decision. Finally, they got him to cough up Rs 17 lakh in maintenance for his wife and young child. "I didn't rest till she got her due," Jahan Ara says with a satisfied smile.
For her, it is poetic justice. In 2010, she had walked out of an abusive marriage leaving behind not just her belongings but also four children she has not seen since. The blows her husband rained on her had broken any possibility of going back.
The violence did not dent her spirit, though. Today, Jahan Ara is one of the 13 qazis trained by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) in constitutional law, tenets of the Quran, sharia and various laws related to women's rights. The one-time school dropout topped her class and now helps run a counselling centre and sharia court in Jaipur where she resolves cases of talaq, mediates in disputes within the community and counsels women who have faced violence, penury and distress.
When the qazi asked for the groom, we said, 'Why are you looking for a boy now? You didn't want the girl to be present when you were signing talaq papers for him'
Women qazis are unheard of in India, though there is no ban on them under Islamic law, says BMMA co-founder Zakia Soman. "We hope that women qazis will bring a sense of gender equality. So many injustices towards women would not occur if male qazis played their role with responsibility," she says.
BMMA established the Darul Uloom Niswaan in February 2016 to train women from across the country. Of the 30 that enrolled, 13 have finally been awarded with the designation of a qazi and the "maroon qazi-wala jacket" this April. Almost all of them have battled lack of education, poverty, oppression and domestic violence in their lives but have refused to be cowed down.
The qazi's role is critical to stem practices like triple talaq and halala (practice by which a female divorcee marries, consummates the marriage and then gets a divorce, just so that she can be allowed to remarry her previous husband.) "Our experience suggests that a majority of qazis validate unilateral triple divorce, which is in violation of Quranic injunctions and now the Supreme Court order. Some qazis play a dubious role, furthering barbaric practices such as halala," Soman says.
Rehana Adib, of the NGO Astitva that works for women's empowerment in western Uttar Pradesh, says that unscrupulous qazis run it like a "dukaan" (shop), unmindful of social justice.
Mumbai-based qazi Heena Siddiqui says that often, talaq itself is on flimsy grounds. "We see cases where the man wants a divorce because his wife did not mention that she wore spectacles before marriage, or just 'dil se bardasht nahi ho rahi (I can't stand her any more)'. Can these be valid or reasonable grounds to throw a woman and your children on the street?" she asks.
Siddiqui describes a visit to a male qazi in Mumbai's Naupada, who was a great believer in "quickie divorces", available for Rs 1,500. She was accompanied by 61-year-old firebrand Khatoon Sheikh who has also become a qazi recently. "We went to the male qazi and said we want a nikah. He said: Fine, but where is the boy? So Khatoon aapa said, 'Why are you looking for a boy now? You didn't want the boy or girl to be present when you were signing talaq papers for him.' He beat a hasty retreat, and is now more careful about his orders," she says.
Former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi, a prominent liberal voice, says the Quran prescribes a very clear process for marriage and divorce. "But lack of awareness and exploitation by dishonest mullahs have led to individual aberrations," he says.
Part of the problem is stilted religious education and social pressure. "Women are only taught things about Islamic law that are advantageous to men," says Jahan Ara. "Nikah, maut jaana, to jamaat mein jaana (For marriage or death you have to go to the mullah or qazi) is a familiar refrain. Muslim women are afraid to complain and when they do, the qazis chastise them," she says.
There are few platforms to speak up. Siddiqui was forbidden by her husband to leave home even for household chores while Karnataka's Nasreen Metai saw her mother being beaten after every delivery for failing to produce a boy. "We only meet at marriages and festivals. There is no one to hear our problems," she says.
The only solution is education and awareness, says Adib. "Ladki muh kholegee to zamana badlega (It's only when women raise their voice that society will change)," she says.
Women qazis have been trained in the processes of solemnising nikah — taking consent of both partners, documenting possessions given by the girl's family as mehr (dowry) and ensuring independent witnesses as required by law and the Quran — with a diligence that some male qazis lack, says BMMA's Noorjehan Safia Niaz.
But educating young girls is not enough, says Metai. "We are working hard with women but till the men are sensitised, we cannot change things around us," she says.
At 28, Basheera Bano is one of the youngest qazis and feels the weight of this new role. "I am very nervous but slowly I think I will be able to fulfill my duties. After all, I was a school dropout once and now I teach children. This is another challenge," she says. The real challenge though, is for these 13 to succeed, for the sake of all the others.
The role of women in preventing violent extremism in Asia
26 August 2017
Violent extremism and acts of terrorism are a major threat to peace and security globally. Although there is growing awareness of how women and girls suffer from its impact, there is less understanding of the role that women may play in countering and preventing it.
The UN Secretary-General’s Preventing Violent Extremism Plan of Action identifies gender equality and empowering women as one of its seven priority areas for action, while Security Council Resolution 2242 calls for taking into account a gender perspective when framing all prevention responses.
Indonesia Muslim youth women from Nadhatul Ulama organisation attend the ceremony of defending the country against terrorism, radicalism and drugs in Jakarta, 17 January 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta).
How do gender and the diverse roles of women help to counter and prevent fundamentalist ideologies and violent extremism? One of our research participants answered this question with the following: ‘If you want to know what the security situation is, what the indicators of safety are, don’t ask the military, don’t ask the government, ask the women’.
That’s what research in Indonesia has sought to do. In 100 interviews and focus group discussions on women’s views about violent extremism, women, teachers, employees, religious leaders, students and members of civil society organisations in four sites selected for their variation with respect to urban/peri-urban/rural and conflict/non-conflict factors participants were asked about their perceptions and experience of fundamentalist ideology, extremism and violent extremism. They were questioned about the warning signs of rising extremism and terrorist violence and in what ways they have been involved in countering or preventing extremist behaviour. The maximum variation sample was structured to include areas across the country both in which there had been terrorist incidents and in which there had been none.
Indonesia — the world’s largest Muslim majority state, a state with a history of Islamic fundamentalism leading to conflict, but also with a strong democratic women’s movement — offers an important case in thinking about how to promote more effective anti-terrorism efforts in Asia.
Extremism — this research makes clear — is present everywhere and there is a strong connection between the spread of fundamentalist political ideologies or groups and rising extremism, including its violent forms. While women in the study generally opposed the use of violence, communities and public officials often condone fundamentalism.
Early warning signs of extremist violence can be detected in everyday behaviour that affects women. The signs include: changes in social attitudes to women’s and girls’ dress and veiling, restrictions on women’s mobility, use of ‘othering’, derogatory language, the exclusiveness of mosques and the advocacy of child marriage. While the restrictions imposed upon women and girls vary across locations, they are seen as a form of coercion associated with rising extremism. Observing and responding to the activities of Islamist groups in everyday life appears to be as important as responding to major terrorist attacks. Everyday violence, including violence that women and girls face, should be cause for alarm and needs to be pre-empted. Changes in women’s and girls’ freedom of dress and mobility should be systematically monitored at the community level as part of a comprehensive approach to preventing violent extremism as well as the promotion of tolerance and women’s rights.
There is also an impressive variety of ways in which women are individually and collectively acting to prevent violent extremism. Women are often first responders in their families and communities addressing extremism. One daughter convinced her father not to gender-segregate the Islamic boarding school he led. The Women’s School for Peace in Poso has developed a community warning system to prevent the escalation of inter-religious incidents into violence. There exists potential to scale up the support and finance for these activities. Women’s capacity to prevent and counter violent extremism extends far beyond their family roles. Many women-led activities remain ‘under the radar’, as do processes of radicalisation and recruitment into extremist networks more generally. Yet women’s leadership and authority within their families, workplaces and communities — including in state, religious, women’s and youth networks — itself represents a challenge to fundamentalist ideologies that script men as leaders and women as passive members of society.
Promoting gender equality is potentially the single most powerful counter to extremist interpretations of religion. One participant stated ‘if women are not actively involved in the debate, they would be overwhelmed by the gender-biased tafsir’ (interpretation of Islamic teachings). Women ulamas (religious leaders) are playing crucial roles in challenging extremist ideologies and individuals, as well as drawing on Islamic teachings and texts that promote tolerance and gender equality. Educating for gender equality within religious communities and organisations is also a crucial strategy for promoting a culture of tolerance and peace and encouraging resilient communities.
Investing in women’s participation can help prevent violent extremism in Indonesia and across the region. This is because women bring a distinct perspective and experience to ‘security’ — security is seen as encompassing both the family and community. Supporting women’s initiatives to identify and prevent extremist behaviour — through training and networking — may in turn encourage greater women’s participation in these initiatives. Enabling women and women-led organisations to participate in the development of strategies to prevent violent extremism can improve their effectiveness and broaden their reach.
At present, there is no explicit government or inter-governmental framework or institutional mechanisms for recognising and supporting the role of women in preventing violent extremism in Indonesia or in the region. An ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security that incorporated a range of threats to women’s security including violent extremism, conflict and natural disasters could mobilise and coordinate women’s participation in the development of strategies to prevent violent extremism and promote lessons learned across communities.
More effective, gender-inclusive national and regional counter-terrorism policies will likely help prevent violent extremism. Gender is a cross-cutting issue and governments should provide support for both international and national women’s organisations working to stabilise communities and prevent terrorism and violent extremism.
Jacqui True is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Professor and Director of the Gender Peace and Security Centre at Monash University.
'I'm Not Scared': Loose Women's Saira Khan Hits Back at 'Cowardly' Trolls
27 August 2017 s
Loose Women star Saira Khan has hit back at 'cowardly' online trolls after receiving a death threat over her bikini snaps, saying 'I'm not scared'.
The presenter, 47, said she is 'standing up' for Muslim women with her social media posts and has urged others to do more to defy extremist views.
The mother-of-two had shared a photograph of herself sunbathing while blasting a Muslim preacher who said it was 'sinful' for Muslim women to pluck their eyebrows.
In response, an anonymous Instagram user posted a comment threatening the star, writing: 'If you value your life keep the f*** out of Islam.'
However, undeterred by the abuse, Saira proceeded to share more bikini snaps, captioning one of them: 'Now where did I put my clothes? #bikini'.
Speaking about her response to the trolls, the presenter told The Mirror: 'I’m sorry, but I’m not scared. My message to all of those people who try to use religion to hate others is: stop being cowardly.'
'I am standing up for women who practise my religion, who are modern, who are progressive, who are actually quite scared to come out and say it because look at the response you get,' she continued.
'Right now, I am trying to do what is right for my daughter, for my son, for my family and to open up a more open-minded and tolerant society.'
The former Apprentice winner also said she wants to see other Muslim women doing more to defy 'extremist views'.
Saira, who has previously publicly shamed social media users for criticising her religion, called out the troll who sent her a death threat on Twitter, tagging the official account for the Metropolitan Police and urging them to 'check it out'.
Her Loose Women co-stars discussed the issue on her programme, with Nadia Sawalha reading out a text from Saira on the show.
It read: 'I just have to speak out for us women. They do it to make us feel so shameful and guilty for our bodies and desire and dreams. I am strong because I have friends like you.'
Saira says she is 'standing up for women who practise my religion' with her social media posts +5
She urged other women to do more to defy 'extremist views' +5
Saira says she is 'standing up for women who practise my religion' with her social media posts, and urged other women to do more to defy 'extremist views'
Speaking on the matter, Nadia said: 'Saira is very, very brave. No matter how many threats she gets she will keep on saying what she’s saying, she doesn’t want her daughter growing up in a world where she's ashamed of her body.'
Saira spoke out after a YouTube video emerged of Australian preacher Umm Jamaal ud-Din that showed her criticising women who pluck their eyebrows.
In the two-hour long sermon the teacher, who wears a burqua, claimed the practice was 'sinful'.
Muslim preacher who believes plucking eyebrows is sinful
Saira Khan posted in response to comments by a female burqa-wearing Muslim convert teacher who said it is sinful for Islamic women to pluck their eyebrows.
Umm Jamaal ud-Din's fiery, two-hour sermon covered the delicate topics of female grooming and obeying Allah.
The Islamic instructor from western Sydney, who is also known as Mouna Parkin, said it was sinful, or haram, for women to pluck their eyebrows, even if they believed it was hygienic.
Posting the bikini picture on Instagram yesterday, Saira wrote: 'I woke up to news that A Muslim Preacher is saying that "plucking eyebrows" for Muslim women is a sin - here's my response - kiss my [peach emoji] you backward prehistoric dinosaur.'
Dozens of users praised Saira for speaking out against the conservative preacher.
One wrote: 'Best response I've seen in a while @iamsairakhan to something so silly.'
Another posted: 'Well said Saira, I love how you speak up for what you believe in on something like you say is so prehistoric.'
However others criticised Saira's attack, including anonymous user 'silverbengle', who wrote the threatening post.
The comment, which has since been removed from Instagram, read: 'Keep your f****** mouth shut! Your not a Muslim nor do you represent anything to do with Islam!!! Your white masters have given you what you desire as a sell out reporter!!! If you value your life keep the f*** out of Islam [sic].'
Saira later received further supportive messages from followers, with one writing: 'Disgusting. I hope this is followed through Saira. Don't let it get to you'.
Another added: 'Words fail me...you shouldn't have to receive and deal with this stuff...awful.'
Jamaat-E-Islami, Pakistan, Holds Seminar On ‘Role Of Women In Reforming System’
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) ameer Senator Sirajul Haq has said no society can make progress without giving due respect to women and their participation.
Addressing a seminar on ‘Role of women in reforming the system’ the JI top leader said the Election Commission should accept nomination papers of only those candidates who give a certificate that they have given share to his sister or daughter from the inherited property.
He said that it should also be made mandatory on parents that they would send their daughters in schools for their further education otherwise they should be punished. “How a political leader can do justice with people of the country who cannot do justice with his sister in division of property,” he said.
Sirajul Haq said there should also be separate play grounds and other places for social and recreational activities of women while banks should also announce special packages of loan for women. The JI leader pointed that perhaps it was only the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) which had given 11 seats to women in its Majlis-e-Shoora to make them part of political consultation process.
Senator Sirajul Haq said that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and with a pledged that it would be an exemplary Islamic Welfare state but he regretted the objective could not be achieved due to moral, political and financial corruption.
Secretary General of JI women Wing, Ms. Durdana Siddiqui said that women play their due role in making Jamaat’s corruption free campaign as success. She said that women would also have to play their role putting an end to moral, political and financial corruption. “We also believe in giving equal opportunities in fields of education, health and other social sectors,” she maintained.
Lucky to be an Emirati woman today, says inventor
August 27, 2017 | Last updated on August 27, 2017 at 07.43 am
Reem Al Marzouqi with Mozo, the robotic teddy bear she designed to help children with autism to develop communication skills
Reem Al Marzouqi, the first UAE citizen to get a US patent
Empowered' is possibly the best word to describe Emirati women. Ahead of Emirati Women's Day on August 28, Khaleej Times profiles 5 inspiring Emirati women who have made their country proud. In the last part of the 5-part series, we introduce Reem Al Marzouqi, an Emirati engineer who bagged a US patent for her foot-controlled car designed for people with no arms. The young inventor believes men and women complement each other
Ask Reem Al Marzouqi what she loves to do, and she'd say, "create inventions that would benefit the community."
The young Emirati is 26 years old, but she already has a number of creative inventions outspread on her list.
The young engineer said this is the perfect time for UAE women, especially the youth, to innovate as the government has succeeded in providing whatever is necessary.
"We have a golden opportunity, so let's use it. I have many friends waiting for the right time, but this is the perfect time to show what can you do to the country or even your friends," said Al Marzouqi, Al Ain's UAE University graduate.
"Having a minister of youth [Shamma Al Mazroui] was over my expectations personally, and I don't know what can happen next to empower the youth."
Besides bagging a US patent for her foot-controlled car designed for people with no arms, the architectural engineer has gone all the way to designing ice panels that will help people build homes on planet Mars via robotic 3D printing that use materials to substitute the ozone layer.
Currently a project manager at Abu Dhabi Airports Company, she's designing a drug finder and duplicated material detector named "Mayyar" to be implemented at the airport to help test chemical composition of content without harming its package.
Her teddy bear Mozo, which she designed to help children with autism develop communication skills, has been applied in Zayed Higher Organisation and showed positive results from two children.
Witnessing the government's support to women, Al Marzouqi said it's a big change. The engineer noted that the government supported her in getting her US and Japanese patent for her first invention, the car she designed to help the disabled.
"When it comes to documentation or applying for a patent, you need money, legal intervention, and loads of time. The [governmental] university handled all this for me and saved me the time to come up with more ideas and apply them," said Al Marzouqi.
Upon getting her first patent, different ministers and officials reached out to congratulate her.
"As an Emirati woman today, I feel lucky. We have many opportunities that many people are missing. Travelling the world, I met many inventors who wish they had similar opportunities," she said. While it may be difficult to get scholarships in other countries, in the UAE, it's not a big challenge, Al Marzouqi added.
A shield to women
She said with all the support the government offers to female innovators, it protects them from morale-killers.
"When leaders focus on the young women, they prevent us from getting distracted by demotivation," said Al Marzouqi.
"There are loads of people who would hate to see innovators succeed; around the world, innovators are being ignored. So when the ministers, media and the entities give us credit, they're protecting us from this 'hatred bubble'."
Ultimately, she said, it allows the UAE women to beat misconceptions of how the West views Arab women. During her last visit to the US, she recalled meeting people who still thought Arab women are uneducated.
"Unfortunately, the West still thinks we only think of food, camels and tents. They don't believe we have innovations, and I was happy I'm one of those who could change the idea about Emirati women," said Al Marzouqi. While the negative connotations are changing, she said there's room for more.
And today, UAE women are seizing the opportunity to prove to the world what they're made of.
During her time in university, she recalled having 35 female students in her batch and only two men. In the media field, there were 60 females with only six men. "Women now outnumber men in schools and universities. They're highly motivated, self-driven and eager to learn," said Al Marzouqi.
Although increased women participation is welcomed in various fields, Al Marzouqi stressed a balance between male and female employees.
She added that both genders must work together to achieve the best they can in any given field.
Being the only woman in the construction department of the airport, Al Marzouqi said she did what a man could do.
"I went to sites and dealt with workers, but I didn't necessarily like the task."
She added that when she was transferred to the duty free area, men focused on ducting and wiring, while she handled the design. "We cannot work alone, we need to work together. While my male colleagues enjoyed wiring and ducting, I hated it and preferred designing instead, which was also highly needed in the field. In that sense, we completed each other," said Al Marzouqi.
In today's connected world, there's a need to develop the right problem solving and self-learning skills to move forward, while seizing the valuable opportunities.
Key achievements of Reem Al Marzouqi
Reem Al Marzouqi is an Emirati engineer and the first UAE citizen to be granted a US patent for designing a driverless car. While studying at the UAEU, she worked with engineering consultants in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, including Musanada. She was listed among the inspiring women in a book published by the UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority on Emirati Women's Day, titled 'Emaratiyah.. UAE's Inspiring Women.'
Al Marzouqi won second place in Emirates Skills national carpentry competition and she was the only and first female participating. Based on her academic achievement and extracurricular activities, she was selected to participate as 2014 innovation and technology delegate at the 51st Annual International Achievement Summit in San Francisco, California. Her car invention was included in the British Museum's 'A History of the World in 100 Objects' exhibition.
Working hard for your money?
Buoyed by talaq verdict, KCR targets Arab marriages
By S. RAMA KRISHNA | HYDERABAD | 27 August, 2017
Older Arab men marry young girls who are later abandoned or used as slaves.
Buoyed by the Supreme Court’s judgment on instant triple talaq and the amount of goodwill it generated for the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is mulling to bring in a law to regulate Arab marriages, a vexed problem for poverty ridden Muslim girls in Hyderabad.
There have been reports of several cases of older Arab men marrying Hyderabad’s young Muslim girls, both minors and majors, and this has become a burning problem for the minority community in the city. After detection of two cases within three days of Arabs sheikhs from Saudi Arabia and Dubai illegally marrying Hyderabad’s Old City Muslim girls, the TRS government has decided to bring in an ordinance to deal with the social evil.
Sources close to the Chief Minister told The Sunday Guardian that the government would promulgate an ordinance in the next few days, after a draft of it is vetted by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). On seeing the positive impact of the SC’s verdict annulling instant triple talaq on Wednesday, KCR has asked the law department to draft a Bill to deal with these Arab marriages.
Hyderabad is a hunting ground for Arab sheikhs who want to marry very young Muslim girls in the name of nikah, but abandon them in no time or take them abroad and use them as slaves and divorce them after some years. Poverty-ridden Muslim families in the Old City are the target of these sheikhs who mostly come here on tourist visas. Hyderabad police arrested two Arabs—Saleem Obaid, 56, and Ibraheem Obaid, 50—on 22-23 August for illegally marrying two girls from the Old City. In the first case, Saleem Obaid paid Rs 60,000 to a marriage broker, who in turn paid Rs 30,000 to the bride’s father and in the next case, Ibraheem Obaid paid Rs 70,000 to the broker who passed on Rs 40,000 to the girl’s family.
These two sheikhs and two more local brokers are in the custody of Shamshabad police. Shamshabad DCP Padmaja told this newspaper that the cops are on the hunt for some more brokers and sheikhs who are in the city waiting to get married to young girls. Hyderabad is not new to these Arab marriages where 60-year-old or sometimes 70-year-old men marry local girls in the age group of 14 to 20 years. There are dozens of marriage brokers catering to the needs of these Arabs. The younger the girls, more the money the sheikhs prefer to shell out.
“These Arab marriages temporarily serve a twin purpose, easing the fathers’ burden of marrying off their daughters at the earliest and solving their financial problems to some extent. But, in most cases, these marriages are failed as the girls are either left back in the city after the sheikhs return to their countries or sent back from abroad after some years,” TRS MLC Mohammad Saleem said.
The All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MLC Sayed Amin Jafrey, too, voiced concern over the fate of abandoned Muslim brides married off to Arabs. “The poverty of families, greed of brokers and absence of laws to govern the Arab marriages, are the causes of the problem. As a majority of Arab weddings fail very soon, the families’ troubles are far from over,” he said. Welcoming the Supreme Court suggestion that the Centre should bring a law within six months on the triple talaq issue, Jafrey, a key member of AIMIM’s think tank, has also appreciated CM KCR’s decision to enact a law to regulate Arab marriages in Hyderabad. Jilani Bano, a women’s rights activist from the Old City, too, lauded the initiative.
The City Civil Courts complex at Nampally in the Old City usually sees many Muslim women affected by marriages to sheikhs. Some are divorced while several others are not even properly divorced. They are just left behind by the Arabs. “It’s difficult to trace the Arabs and issue notices to them and get some sort of financial relief to the victim women,” said Bano. According to sources, the proposed ordinance of the Telangana government intends to deal with Arab marriages at different stages. First, only Arabs who visit the city on marriage visas or with specific mention that they have come here for the purpose of marriage would be allowed to marry. Next, there shall not be an age gap of over 10 years between the bride and the groom. Now it is over 40-50 years. Another important provision is compulsory registration of all marriages with foreigners. Though there is a law in the combined Andhra Pradesh that all marriages should be registered with the sub-registrars, not many are following the norm. The impending ordinance makes mandatory that Muslim girls’ marriages should be performed and registered by Kazis recognised by the Wakf Board. Though there were demands from some Muslim women groups to regulate Arab marriages, successive governments were afraid of backlash from the “hardcore men”. Even the TRS government, too, was wary of AIMIM’s opposition to any measure to regulate Arab marriages.
There has been an outpour of support to the apex court’s move and hundreds of Muslim women came out openly and displayed placards welcoming the judgment. AIMIM president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi may have officially denied that he was under pressure from Muslim women to welcome the judgment, but he is definitely aware of the jubilant mood among Muslim women in the city. Owaisi argued that the number of divorces through triple talaqs in Hyderabad was minuscule, or may be less than 100 every year, but the social unrest and the destabilisation caused by instant divorces are immense in Muslim society, said Fatima Begum, who works with COVA, an NGO in the Old City of Hyderabad.
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