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Published in the 1-15 July 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Women’s commissions blamed for interference in personal laws

Bhadrak: Bhadrak Muslim Jamaat (BMJ) took out a protest demonstration on 4 June against the alleged interference in Muslim Personal Laws by national and state women’s commissions

In a neighbouring village one Sher Mohammad had divorced his wife Najma Bibi when he was in an inebriated condition. Local people asked the husband and wife to live separately after the divorce but National Women’s Commission and state women’s commission members said that since the husband had divorced Najma when he was in an inebriated condition, divorce was not valid. This led to protests from Muslims who accused women’s commissions of interfering in Muslim Personal Laws. An agitation followed when the police arrested some people.

Najma and her four children are now living in an accommodation arranged temporarirly by a private social organisation. The difficulty is that in addition to the difference of opinion between different people about the validity of divorce, even the Muftis are not unanimous. According to one Mufti, the divorce is valid while according to another Mufti it is not valid because it was pronounced in an inebriated condition. Najma, however, insists that for a final decision the views of a third Mufti should be sought.

Meanwhile, the BMJ in a memorandum submitted to the District Collector demanded withdrawal of the women’s commissions’ decision and also police cases registered against its activists.

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