Indian Muslim Women Fight for Gender Equality in Marriage

Muslim women in India are fighting to bring gender equality to marriages, reports the New York Times. The women are lobbying for equal gender rights in marriage, divorce, and property rights. They are demanding compulsory registration of marriages with the state, the establishment of a system of financial support for wives, and the prohibition of triple talaq, a system under which a divorce becomes binding if a husband says he will divorce his wife three times.

The Indian Constitution gives all citizens equal rights regardless of religion. However, in 1937, the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act was established to govern the country’s Muslims. The ruling Muslim organizations in India are dominated by men, and the groups have previously rejected efforts to expand rights for women. Zeenat Shaukat Ali, a professor at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai who teaches Islamic Studies, told the New York Times that “We are asking for codification of the legal system within the framework of Koranic law. The Koran does not support a system that is controlled by the patriarchy, and the government has to treat this matter on a war footing if they truly mean to bring about gender justice.”

New York Times 4/24/12

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