Afsana’s case triggers Uniform Civil Code debate among Muslim women in Kerala

Afsana and her 2-year-old daughter are sleeping on the veranda of her divorced husband’s house as a mark of protest
Afsana’s case triggers Uniform Civil Code debate among Muslim women in Kerala
Afsana’s case triggers Uniform Civil Code debate among Muslim women in Kerala
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Afsana and her two-year-old daughter have been sleeping on the veranda of her divorced husband’s house at Pallikandy in Kozhikode district for nearly a week. Afsana says this is sleep-in protest is on account of her husband pronouncing talaq without her knowledge and for remarrying another woman.

While she believes in Sharia law, the 32-year-old told the media that her husband did not follow the proper procedures for talaq.

Afsana also alleges that she was continuously harassed by her husband after their marriage over her complexion and dowry. Five months after getting married, he sent her home and refused to let her back even after giving birth to their daughter.

“He sent me home and informed that he divorced me. I did not even get a chance to ask what was the reason for the talaq. Still I don’t know why he abandoned me and my daughter,” she told the media.

Despite being scared to be sleep on the veranda with her daughter, Afsana says she will not stop protesting until she gets justice.

A Bachelor of Education graduate, Afsana started her protest on July 11. She was allegedly forced by her husband to quit her job as a school teacher after marriage. In 2014 she had filed a complaint of domestic violence against her in-laws and husband. The court had issued a protection order in favour of Afsana, but her husband refused to follow the court order.

Afsana’s story has once again triggered a debate over the need for uniform civil code across social media platforms and in newsrooms.

But many Muslim women leaders in the state are against a Uniform Civil Code, claiming that Muslim sharia laws provides all rights to women in the community.

“What happened to Afsana was unfortunate and complete injustice. Though triple talaq is allowed, it is not so easy and there are certain procedures to be followed. Without the permission of the wife, the husband cannot remarry or divorce her. Moreover, as per sharia laws, remarrying should have proper reasons,” says Kamarunnissa Ashraf, the president of Vanitha Indian Union of Muslim League.

Divorce, she says, is the most hated thing for God as per the Quran. “Our Muslim laws gives complete protection for women. The problem happens when it is not followed properly,” argues Kamarunnissa, who rejects the need for a Uniform Civil Code.

Another popular women’s organisation, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), however, proposes a new law for Muslim families.

Last year they had come up with a draft Muslim Family Law, which strictly objects to many marital practices among Muslims.

 “The law proposed by us can check all these malpractices among the community. As per the draft, talaq should be legal only if it is in writing. Moreover, an arbitrator has to check whether all criteria for talaq has been fulfilled, before granting it,” says Noorjahan Safia Nia, one of the BMMA founders.

She claims their proposed law will be more practical and effective than Uniform Civil Code.

Polygamy will not be allowed, as per BMMA’S proposed draft,

It is the responsibility of the Qazi (religious leader who conducts the marriage) “to ensure that the bride knows and consents to marry the bridegroom only if his previous wife has been divorced or deceased and may have had children from the previous marriage,” reads the draft.

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