India has approximately 9 crore Muslim women (If we roughly estimate their number as 50% of the 18 crore Muslim population of the country). Basically, India has more Muslim Women than the entire population of the United Kingdom. So, what has prevented successive governments India from providing justice and equality to a demographic block that has 9 crore members?
The Congress, The Left parties and the Regional satraps like Trinamool Congress who never miss a chance to project themselves as the champions of secularism never really tried to raise this issue. The shameful example of Rajiv Gandhi and how he groveled before the Mullahs to appease Muslim Voters in the Shah Bano episode is a glaring example of secularism gone wrong in India. One may also wonder, what stopped the so-called feminists to champion this cause?
The answer lies in the petty vote bank politics widely practiced in our country, where the Muslim population is always treated as a single monolithic vote bank irrespective of their class and social differences whose key always lies with the local Maulavis. All efforts of reform are vehemently opposed as some form of attack on Islam itself!
A cursory glance through world history will be sufficient to ascertain the fact that no nation has progressed by denying half of its population, basic human rights. By using religion as a tool to oppress the average citizen of the country, the continuing appeasement of religious fundamentalism has only led to alienation of the Muslim population.
Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had himself accepted that the Hindu Code bill was his biggest achievement and when asked that why had he not brought similar reforms for the Muslim women, he stated that the “Opportune time has yet not arrived”.
More than 70 years passed, but the “opportune time” for Muslim women of this country is yet to come. The Indira Gandhi government even after winning more than 2/3rd seats in the 1971 General election created a regressive body called AIMPLB (All India Muslim Personal Law Board) which decides on important aspects of Muslim Personal Laws like Marriage and Divorce.
It is a private and bogus organization created with full of Maulanas and Maulvis who are neither elected through any civic elections or have any representation from the Govt. of India. Yet without having any validity from the common people, they decide on important aspects that affect the everyday lives Muslims. India of 2018 must make sure that religious fundamentalists aren’t bestowed with so much power.
In 1986, A bench presided by the then Chief Justice of India YV Chandrachud said that a common civil code would foster national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law with conflicting ideologies. This verdict was reversed by the then government. A decade later, in 1996, Sarla Mudgal case also advocated Uniform Civil Code. Even recently, in 2015, the Supreme Court once again asked the government to take a quick decision on Uniform Civil Code to end the confusion over personal community laws.
This is the first time in last 70 years after Independence that a right-wing party is at the center and enjoys a complete majority on its own. The so called secular parties that do their best to resist changes have either been obliterated or are about to be finished . This is the best time for the BJP Government to push the message of Uniform Civil Code in the Muslim Community. Criminalization of Triple talq was a welcome step in the right direction but the government needs to follow it with Uniform Civil Code. This will not just be a game changer for the society but will also be a powerful electoral weapon. While it will attract votes from Muslim women and even some forward thinking Muslim Men towards BJP as well, Uniform Civil Code will outline government’s strong stand clearly thereby further cementing its position with the traditional supporters.
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