While the whole country’s imagination has been captured by incidents in universities, and within the Parliament, quietly, without much hullabaloo, an unusual gathering has been taking place in a quiet corner in the capital: that of Muslim women demanding the rights as granted to them by the Constitution. Around 400 Muslim women from over 14 states across the country have come together to demand for several rights enshrined in the Constitution to them, but have been systematically denied. The gathering, which included a national convention on Saturday, and a protest in Jantar Mantar on Sunday, had the participation of several organisations. The collective urged the women to work to strengthen and support Muslim women’s leadership and bring more women into the political space for a collective struggle. The convention also called for women to stand together against communal violence and patriarchal forces that attempt to undermine women’s solidarity.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>These organisations, which came under the umbrella of the the Bebaak Collective, included social rights bodies like the Sanatkada Sadbhavna Trust (Lucknow), the Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiative (Lucknow) Vanangana (Bandha), Pragati Madhyam Samiti (Chitrakoot), Pehchaan (Dehradun), Muhim (Farukabad), Aastitva (Saharanpur), Parvaaz (Ahmedabad), Sahiyar (Vadodara), Muslim Mahila Manch (Nagpur) and the Aawaz-E-Niswaan (Mumbai). Speakers at the national convention included Justice Rajinder Sachar, advocate Vrinda Grover, Prof Zoya Hasan and Dr Syeda Hameed. They emphasised on the need to unite against the systematic attack on the women. Justice Sachar, who headed the Sachar Committee, stressed on the fact that the findings of the Sachar Committee report is yet to find any value, and its recommendations any implementation. Dr Syeda Hameed called for Muslim women to claim their right to define their own identity, their own beliefs and their own agenda. Historian Uma Chakravarti reflected and wondered if women were provided with social security by the state, women like Shah Bano would not have to fight against their own communities to claim miserable scraps as “benefits”. Hasina Khan of the Bebaak Collective said that Muslim communities have always witnessed issues like communal riots, beef ban, hate speeches targeting them. There have also been covert and systemic forms of violence through the rhetoric of love jihad and ghar wapsi. These instances, along with many other quotidian forms of discrimination and violence against Muslims and other marginalised communities, have fostered an atmosphere of intolerance and fear in the country. “Education, employment and mobility of Muslim women are major casualties under such circumstances. It is thus obvious that the current situation in our country deserves immediate attention and much needed deliberation relating to lived realities of Muslim women,” said Khan.Reshma, who works with Sahiyar, said that their demands are simple. “We have three demands, we look for social security, right to citizenship and equality under the law, and the implementation of the Sachar Committee in all the states. Muslim people in slums in Gujarat are routinely targeted. It may not be as bad as 2002, but shops are routinely burned, or houses are destroyed. Muslim areas are never cleaned by the state authorities. In case a woman has a domestic problem, police routinely refuse to file an FIR,” said Reshma.


Muslim women demand rights as granted by the Constitution