Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), an organisation which works for the welfare of Muslim women, has demanded sweeping reforms in the law governing Muslim marriages, including a ban on polygamy and unilateral talaq.
BMMA has come out with a draft Muslim family law which seeks to put an end to “discrimination” against Muslim women. “Muslims in India are governed by the Shariat Application Act of 1937, which is a highly inadequate law.
This law does not stop the society from treating Muslim women as second-grade humans. When Quran does not discriminate between a man and a woman, how can the man do so,” asked Zakia Soman, co-founder of BMMA, at a press conference.
Among other things, the draft law contemplates a complete ban on the oral, unilateral and triple divorce (talaq) and seeks, instead, use of ‘talaak-e-ahsan’ method where at least four attempts at reconciliation are made before the divorce is granted.
The draft law stipulates that a Muslim marriage should be solemnised only when the bride is at least 18 years old and the groom 21. Further, there should be “an unambiguous consent” by both, and neither of them should have a living spouse.
Polygamous marriage should be strictly prohibited and marriages should be compulsorily registered, payment of maintenance to the wife and children must be made mandatory during the marriage, or in the event of separation and divorce, it says.
A minimum ‘mehr’ should be paid to the bride before the marriage and the amount should not be less than the groom’s annual income, the draft law says. The BMMA will launch a nation-wide campaign for creating awareness about the need to codify the Muslim Personal Law and make the government act towards it, Soman said.
Copies of the draft law are being sent to Law Ministry, National Human Rights Commission, National Commission of Minorities, National Commission of Women, MPs and others in the decision-making process to enable them hold consultations with various stakeholders, she said.