Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh might believe Narendra Modi to be a messiah for Indian Muslim women, but Muslim women think otherwise
Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI – With eyes on votes of Muslim women, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath during an election meeting on Wednesday credited the Narendra Modi government for having ‘liberated’ them from ‘abuse’ and ‘captivity’. However, women from the Muslim community feel that the statement is not only laughable and a hoax albeit a ‘jumla’ but is also insulting for the community at large.
Yogi, who was named in several cases for instigating communal riots, during the meeting, said that India might have got Independence in 1947 but Muslim women got independence when Modi came to power.
“We have freed our Muslim sisters from hundreds of years of abuse and captivity, which they were subjected to. The wicked practice of triple talaq was being used as a weapon to exploit them in many ways. By abolishing the process, we have brought back their dignity and respect. I want my Muslim sisters to recognize their true brothers. Women power must be respected. India got its freedom in 1947, but now we must fight a battle for the dignity of the women,” he said at an election meeting in Uttar Pradesh’s Aonla town.
Instant triple talaq is a un-Islamic practice which was abolished by the Supreme Court in August 2017 after some women challenged the practice in the apex court. Following which Narendra Modi’s government made efforts to bring in a law to criminalize Triple Talaq, but it was opposed on the basis that the proposed law would exacerbate the women’s condition. While many believed that three-year-imprisonment for divorce was a way of putting Muslim men behind bars. Interestingly, a study has indicated that it’s the Muslims and Dalits who have a larger presence in the Indian jails.
Referring to these efforts, Yogi, who has been accused of making hate statements against Muslims, went on to claim to liberate Muslim women. However, his claims haven’t gone down well with the educated Muslim women, who believe that his statement is not just objectionable but also laughable and hollow.
“This statement is not only laughable but also insulting to the entire Muslims community. According to me, the reason is quite interesting as to why he has said so. Ever since he came to power, he said thok diye jaoge. This is basically a threat to Muslim men in particular – that if you indulge in even a petty crime, you will be killed. This has been happening under the Yogi regime. Many Muslims, Dalits and OBCs have been killed. Now, this statement about liberating women is actually basically a dig on Muslim man,” said Heba Ahmed, who is pursuing her PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University.
She said that it is problematic that Modi thinks that it has put down Muslim men and liberated Muslim women. “Muslim women don’t want liberation from Muslim man. Muslim women want certain reforms within the community, for example, in the pattern of divorce so that the Muslim women don’t have to suffer. But you can’t liberate her by putting the Muslim man in jail. We don’t want the state to act as a saviour for Muslim women,” said Heba, who often raises the voice for the Muslim women.
She feels that despite BJP being anti-Muslim at large suddenly becoming pro-Muslim women is a part of a larger conspiracy. She, however, suggested if BJP really wants to do something for the Muslim women, then it should encourage them to get educated and of course provide access to education.
Shabina Akhtar, the co-founder of news website eNewsroom, called the statement a ‘hoax’. She feels that it’s merely a political agenda and with no truth behind it. “I don’t think that any politician has liberated the Muslim women. It’s just a political agenda. If they are claiming to have liberated the Muslim women, then they should tell me how the Indian Muslim Women have gained Independence now? Where are the statistics? I will only believe the statistics and not statement. To be honest, no law can liberate women if she is not educated enough to know about her rights,” said Shabina, who is also the editor of the website.
She added, “This statement coming from a man who had made the statement of raping Muslim women in their graves, makes it sound so hollow.”
She believes that Islam has given women all the rights. “Islam is very women friendly. It gave women the inheritance rights, the right to choose their life partners, the right to work, almost 1450 years ago. But the lack of education and understanding of the Quran, coupled with the patriarchal mindset of the society that the women suffer. The Quran has two chapters dedicated to women. But sadly enough, in the sub-continent, all Muslims just read the holy book in Arabic, without really understanding what’s written in it. So, the women lauding the Triple Talaq bill need to read the translation, to realize that what the Modi government and Supreme Court has said, barring the imprisonment part, is already mentioned there,” she said.
Huma Masih, a student of Kota University, observed that the Modi government has done nothing not just for Muslim women but also for Hindu women. She believes that the Triple Talaq Bill was introduced simply to provoke Muslims and to paint them as extremists.
“I think that this statement of Yogi Adityanath may appeal to those Muslim women who are unaware of Muslim women’s personal laws but I want to ask them what they have done for Muslim women that they are making such tall statements. Did the literacy rate of Muslim women increase under his governance? Did they give any benefit to the victims of Triple Talaq? What actually they have they done?” asked Huma.