A statement signed by several journalists, academicians and activists also hit out at NCW for “endorsing” Hadiya’s house arrest.

To depose freely before SC Hadiya should be released from house arrest Activists
news Hadiya Case Saturday, November 11, 2017 - 16:06

Earlier this week, the National Commission for Women (NCW) paid a visit to Hadiya, the 25-year-old Muslim convert from Kerala, who has been under house arrest since May, after the High Court annulled her marriage to a Muslim man Shafin Jahan.

After the visit, the Commission's acting Chairperson told the media that unlike allegations by several people including rights activists, Hadiya's security was not under threat. 

"She is healthy and happy, and eating her food," Chairperson Rekha Sharma had said. 

Also read: Forced conversion a reality in Kerala, Pinarayi hiding like ostrich: Women's Commission chief to TNM

However, days after this, a forum comprising of journalists, academicians, rights and activists among others, have accused the Commission of "endorsing" Hadiya's house arrest. 

The Commission has drawn criticism for "stating without evidence" that there was no love jihad, but forced conversions in Kerala.

With Hadiya set to appear before the Supreme Court on November 27, the forum demanded that she first be freed from parental custody so as to enable her to depose freely.

“For Hadiya to depose freely and truthfully before the Supreme Court on November 27, it is imperative that she is first freed from the hostile and coercive circumstances of parental custody and be fully at liberty,” reads the statement. Demanding her release from house arrest, statement concludes by noting that all Hadiya’s rights and freedoms as an adult be restored and her decisions respected.  

Below is the full statement endorsed by several people including activist Kavita Krishnan, critic J Devika and Professor of JNU Nivedita Menon.

STATEMENT FOR HADIYA:

"We, the undersigned concerned citizens, are greatly disturbed by news of NCW in-charge Rekha Sharma’s visit to meet Hadiya at the home of her father, Mr. Asokan, where she continues to be incarcerated. These reports raise more fears than they allay.

Ms. Hadiya has been reported by Ms. Sharma to be ‘healthy and happy’. However, Ms. Sharma goes on to state, without providing any evidence whatsoever, that while there is no ‘love jihad’ in Kerala, there are forced conversions.

It bears reiteration that Ms. Hadiya is a 24-year-old adult woman, who took a decision to convert to Islam, and then to marry a Muslim man. For this exercise of self-determination, Ms. Hadiya has been placed under house arrest in her parents’ control, and this shocking violation of Ms. Hadiya’s personal liberty and her right to take decisions about her own life, has been endorsed by the legal system.

The Supreme Court, on October 30, directed her father to produce her before the Court a month later on November 27. We are deeply concerned that during this month-long period, Ms. Hadiya will continue to suffer the agony of being held in captivity against her will; and her basic right to choice of religion and marriage partner as well as freedom of movement as a citizen will continue to be denied to her.

Now Ms. Sharma’s statement essentially endorses the unconscionable and illegal house arrest of Ms. Hadiya, with the certification of her being ‘healthy and happy’. Further, Ms. Sharma’s claim of forced conversions attempts to distort and cast a shadow on Hadiya’s decision.

Ms. Sharma’s tweets from so-called reconversion camps in Kerala, where adult women are held against their will, in which she claimed they were ‘victims of forced conversions’, seem intended to colour and influence Hadiya’s case and thus compromise her statutory role as NCW in-charge. We are aware that two women have been able to approach the Kerala High Court, swearing an affidavit that they have undergone torture at one such centre. The discourse of ‘forced conversions’ is a form of violent control over adult women taking decisions contrary to the wishes of their families.

Despite Hadiya stating clearly before the Kerala High Court several times over the past year that she has taken every decision about her life with complete knowledge and understanding, the court has essentially handed over her custody to her father.

For Hadiya to depose freely and truthfully before the Supreme Court on November 27, it is imperative that she is first freed from the hostile and coercive circumstances of parental custody and be fully at liberty.

Hadiya’s rights and freedoms as an adult citizen must be restored, for which she must be freed immediately from house arrest and all steps taken to ensure that her decisions regarding her life are respected."

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.