Today is Women’s day.
But, unfortunately, not much is being spoken about the discrimination that Muslim women need to suffer due to religious injunctions.
Let me list a few:
- Polygamy: A Muslim man can “legally” marry up to 4 wives but a non-Muslim cannot. Sections 494/495 of Indian penal code stop any non-Muslim person taking a second spouse till the first spouse is alive/divorced, or else (s)he will be jailed for 7-10 years. These sections are not applicable to Muslim men till they take a 5th wife. They can however avoid punishment by divorcing one(or more) and bring the wives’ count to four or less.
- Unrestricted divorce rights to Muslim men: A Hindu man can divorce his wife only in the court and only on specified and well defined grounds. The court decides if the divorce should be given or not. After court is satisfied it will issue a divorce decree(after proper proceedings and arguments). No Hindu man can divorce his wife unilaterally(same for Hindu woman also). Non-Muslim women have exactly the same divorce rights as men. Where as a Muslim man can unilaterally divorce his wife. Say a man develops an extra marital affair, he can simply dump his wife and children and take a new wife. The first wife(if is not earning) can even come to street and beg. The triple-talaq which Modi Govt has banned outlaws only instant divorce (triple-e-biddat). The talaq-e-sunnat (under which a Muslim man can divorce his wife in 3 months) is still legal and valid. The Muslim husband needs to wait just for 3 months for taking a new wife and dumping the older one. However, a Muslim woman needs to approach the court for seeking divorce, here we see gross inequality between men and women.
- Muslim women have no right for maintenance: After a divorce, Hindu (or any non-Muslim woman) has right of maintenance for herself (till she remarries) and her children, from her husband and even her father-in-law (if she doesn’t have a source of income). The courts ensure that divorced wife and abandoned children are entitled to that much maintenance from husband(or father-in-law) which will enable them to maintain the same standard of living as before. And “maintenance” is defined as lodging, boarding, clothing, education of children, daughter’s marriage and medical expenses. Muslim women/children have no such rights, they are not entitled for any maintenance after divorce. If a Muslim woman is divorced/dumped by her husband, and if she doesn’t have a source of living, then she could literally come to begging.
- Muslim women inherit less than men: In the matter of inheritance, any Hindu (or any non-Muslim) woman is entitled for equal share in father’s/husband’s property. If a Hindu man/woman dies, his/her wealth is divided equally among his/her spouse, sons and daughters. In nutshell, Hindu personal law don’t discriminate women. But, that’s not the case with Muslim women. A Muslim wife is entitled for fixed 1/8th of her husband’s property. A Muslim daughter gets half of what her brother will inherit from her father’s property.
- Nikah-Halala: This is not applicable for any non-Muslim woman. After divorce a non-Muslim woman, if she wants to remarry her husband, she doesn’t need to sleep with another man and take a divorce from him. She can remarry her ex-husband without any restrictions, nor even have to go to the court.
Looking at the above points, it is clear that Muslim women are a big disadvantage in comparison with Hindu(or non-Muslim) women.
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