New Delhi: The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, in its charter of demands in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, wants the parliament to “pass a Muslim family law to enable legal protection for women just as they have passed Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and other such laws under Hindu code.”
Muslim women came together in meetings in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra, MP, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu throughout the months of February and March to demand that their voices be heard by political parties and their demands be included in their manifestoes.
One of the demands in their charter includes the obligation “for all political parties to support constitutional nationalism” and disavow “divisive narrow ideologies in the name of nationalism”. The charter also called for all political parties to respect the values of democracy, social justice, gender justice, equality, pluralism, secularism and individual freedoms enshrined in the Indian constitution and categorically. condemn any subversions of the constitutional principles.
The charter also demanded that all parties initiate action against “hate speeches and religious polarisation”. Stating that Islamophobia is not a new phenomenon, the charter observes that the climate of haters by right-wing groups has amplified in the past few years. “The heightened demonisation, the “go to Pakistan” bogey and violence by gau rakshaks including lynchings have increased the insecurity and the alienation of Muslims,” the charter goes on to state.
The BMMA charter also addressed the feeling of insecurity and alienation amongst minorities and Dalits and called for the government to prompt a “healing touch” to “reassure minorities and Dalits about their being equal citizens in a secular democracy”. It also asked that the mandate of the national and state minorities commissions be revised, allowing them to hear cases of discrimination which will create political spaces for minority communities to reach out to the state.
In addition, the charter also demanded the reinvigoration of the PM’s New 15-Point Program and the updating of the status of MSDP in the MCDs and the PM’s New 15-Point program by the Minorities Affairs ministry. “This must include year-wise expenditure, number of beneficiaries scheme-wise, monitoring mechanisms, steps for universalisation of programs and steps to sensitise functionaries to poverty, exclusion, backwardness faced by Muslim citizens,” the charter states.
Regarding the issue of economic and educational inclusion of Muslims, the charter asks that special steps be taken to raise awareness amongst Muslims for schemes for the poor including ICDS, health, livelihood, scholarships & education programs and its budgetary spending be monitored to measure its reach among minority citizens. The charter also asks that “scholarships for Muslims should be brought on par with those meant for Dalits.” The charter also demands that special measures like poverty alleviation schemes be initiated to help Muslim women & girls.
The charter demands that the parliament pass a Muslim family law to enable legal protection for women akin to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. “Along with education and livelihood measures, this would enable muslim women to live a life of empowerment and dignity and halt vested politics over gender justice,” the charter says, pointing out that “conservative, patriarchal and misogynist voices within the community have been singularly responsible for the miserable state of the Muslim women.”
On the issue of gender justice, the charter explicitly states that the “time for 33% reservation is long over” and that all political parties must now commit to “50% reservation for women in the Assembly and Parliament” and that this must be implemented “within a tangible timeline”.