The All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has decided to legally challenge the controversial circular issued by the Local Self-Governance Department allowing registration of Muslim marriages below existing age limit.
K K Shyalaja, general secretary of AIDWA, told ‘Express’: “The legal cell of the AIDWA is preparing documents to legally counter the regressive circular which is against the spirit of several Supreme Court judgments and the latest amendment in the criminal law based on the recommendations by Justice Verma commission report.”
Shylaja said the circular can sabotage the life chances of girls, especially from lower middle class. “Various studies have documented that several social indices of Muslim women are similar to Dalits. Recently, after many struggles and interventions, Muslim girls had started going to educational institutions. The new circular can reduce the social mobility of women,” she said.
Recalling the interventions by political parties in relation with the controversies surrounding the Shah Bano case, she said the AIDWA would oppose the agenda of communal forces.
“The BJP is trying to demonise Muslim community in toto. In reality, conservative elements of all religions operate in the larger framework of patriarchy and this is evident from the prevalence of child marriages in the majority community in several BJP-ruled states,” she said. Secular forces should treat the circular as a transgression to the constitutional promises of gender equality, she said.
Meanwhile, liberal Muslims have started raising objections to the diktat. Salim Haji, president, Khuran Sunnath Society, said sections of clergy with narrow political interests are consciously trying to superimpose barbaric customs in social life of Muslim women. “These patriarchal forces are wrongly interpreting Quran,” he said.
Khadija Mumtaz, senior gynaecologist, said child marriages can ruin the physical and psychological health of mother and kids. “If a girl is married at the age of 15, the conservative social pressure will be on her to give birth within a year. Early motherhood can create calcium and haemoglobin deficiency in the mother and newborn,” she said.