Education focus at women’s meet

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Hyderabad: Sixty-five million Muslim women, often called a minority within a minority, face a dilemma in exercising their Constitutional rights, and need to brought into the mainstream, said Mamta Sharma, chairperson of the National Commission For Women, at the Regional Conference of the NCW, titled ‘Voice of the Voiceless’.
“Providing education or just speaking of policies will not lead to any change. There is a need to bring them into the mainstream, make them feel competitive and create awareness among them about their religious and Constitutional rights.”
“The main problem is that though we read our religious text, we fail to implement it. Be it the Mahabharata or the Quran, women have always been given an honourable mention and position in all our ancient writings. But we never learn from them. There needs to be empowerment, growth and development. We have to rehabilitate deserted women. Men must encourage their wives and daughters to study and make them feel like a part of the evolving society,” she said.
Shamina Shafiq, NCW member, said, “Muslim women are subjected to an interface between gender, citizenship and community within the Indian social, political and economic context.”
She noted that Indian Muslim wome have been a target of extreme violence in communal riots. They face many difficulties in all walks of life. “Every state has its own acute disparities that have to be identified and worked upon. We need effective solutions.”
AICC coordinator Mohd Khaleequr Rahman, retired IAS officer Hasnuddin Ahmad, Jamia Millia Islamia professor Dr Akhtar Ul Wasey, pro VC of MANUU, Khwaja Shahid and director of the Confederation of Voluntary Association, Turab, were present.
Muslim women unaware of rights
Kruthi Gonwar | DC
More than 60 per cent of Muslim women in Hyderabad are still not aware of their basic rights, revealed a survey conducted by the Maulana Azad National Urdu University under the guidance of Dr Shahida Murtaza.
With almost no emphasis on the economic, political, educational or spiritual empowerment of women from this community, Dr Murataza stressed the urgent need to educate them about their religious rights first.
Presenting her observations at the Regional Conference for Muslim women empowerment, conducted by the National Commission for Women in the city, she said, “Many Muslim women cannot  read religious texts that talk about the rights of women. For example, in Islam,  ‘meher’ is a mandatory amount of money paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage, for her exclusive use. While it is often money, it can  be anything agreed upon by the bride, such as jewellery, home items or anything else. She has every right over the amount. However, men never pay ‘meher’ to women as the latter do not know about it.”
Dr Murtaza stressed  that Muslim  women are only taught about their responsibilities, not about their rights.
“They should be taught to make their voices heard and be made self-reliant. A woman in Islam has an exalted position. Friday prayers need to be addressed by an Imam, who he is supposed to address issues and the problems of the community. This, unfortunately, doesn’t happen. We must address the youth and tell girls to say no to dowry. This ability will come when she is empowered. We must ask them to read the Quran and translate it.”
She added, “Sheikhs from other countries come and marry young girls without a problem. This issue has to be dealt with.”
Victims of Gujarat riots recount horror
It happened 11 years ago, but the terrifying experiences of the Gujarat riots are fresh in the minds of those who suffered through them.
The regional conference of the National Conference of Women being held in the city, created a platform to discuss the plight of Muslim women whose lives changed after the horrific communal riots. Women came all the way from Gujarat to attend the conference and narrate their experiences, the hardships they faced and how they tried to overcome some of the challenges.
Rashida Ansari’s most vivid memory is of running barefoot from her home, only to be beaten up by policemen. “We were all sitting at home and unaware of what was happening outside. Suddenly people started attacking us and my husband and I just ran for our lives. Instead of helping us, the police started abusing and beating us. Somehow we escaped and reached a base camp in Jamalpur,” Ansari, 34, said.
She added that the camp housed 4,000 displaced people. “We realised how horrible our state of security was.”
The displaced came to each other’s aid. “We found a way to take care of our families and others who went through the same struggle,” she recounted.
Working along with many organisations, including the Sauhard Manch and the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, founded by Zakia Somon, these women work in coordination with the collector, do a lot of field work and create understanding of rights and policies among women.

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