New Delhi: A group of highly educated and professional Muslim women formed the All-India Muslim Women’s Association to address the social, educational, and safety problems of Muslim women. Addressing a press conference on October 26 at the Press Club of India here, the association’s president, Dr. Asma Zahra, said the Muslim community in India is currently facing a multitude of challenges and issues, including those related to their security, survival, social well-being, education, economic prospects, and political issues. To address these challenges and ensure the protection of the rights of Muslim women and students, as well as to promote their educational, social, and economic development, the body was formed at the national level, she added.
She also stated that the new body is an independent organization of Muslim women and not affiliated with any national, political, or religious parties, seminaries, etc. It operates autonomously and is committed to advocating for the interests of Muslim women while adhering to Islamic principles.
On highlighting the activities of the organization, Dr. Zahra said it has initiated various programs and activities, including those related to education, social welfare, community service, poverty alleviation, legal support for women, and social reform. These efforts are being rolled out across multiple states in the country, and we have already begun conducting introductory conferences and awareness workshops.
According to her, Muslim women and students in the country are facing significant challenges, including:
1. State of Assam: We strongly condemn the hostile policies of the Assam government targeting innocent Muslim girls and women. Under the pretext of cracking down on child marriages, the police and government authorities are harassing innocent married couples and their parents; cases are booked under the POCSO Act, which is nothing but harassment and oppression of the poor. We call upon Assam Chief Minister Hemant Biswa Sharma to withdraw all such cases and release the relatives.
2. Forced Evictions: India is witnessing the initiation of bulldozer politics for the first time in its independent history, driven by the anti-Muslim and hostile actions and policies of state and central governments. As a result, numerous women are now homeless and forced to live in the open in several states. We urge governments to protect the human and constitutional rights of these women. We appreciate the recent order by the Guwahati High Court, which mandates compensation for victims of evictions.
3. Need: There is a need for immediate relief and rehabilitation of displaced people in other states, such as Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.
4. Hijab Issue: Thanking the Karnataka government for allowing female students wearing hijab to write examinations. It also made a request to the Chief Minister to take back the GO ban on hijab.
5. Education: It called upon other state governments to adopt similar inclusive measures and implement the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” approach.
6. Safety and Security of Muslim Female Students: In certain educational institutions and universities, there is targeting, and harm directed towards Muslim female students. Harassment of Muslim girls and tragic incidents of killing and murdering of girls students, such as the suspicious death of a Nalgonda medical student in March 2023 and a 19-year-old Muslim girl from Belgaum, Bengaluru, in July 2023, where parents have alleged she was raped and murdered.
7. Crimes: There is a sharp rise in crimes against women and hate crimes. Numerous reports highlight unwarranted violence and harassment against Muslim women and girls, including a horrific incident in which a woman was burned alive in Jharkhand recently. The media is hiding numerous such crimes and atrocities. It called upon the state government to ensure the safety and security of females.
8. Lady journalists facing hate: A Muslim Kashmiri journalist was prevented from receiving the award in Pune (Maharashtra Institute of Technology) due to political pressure, and another female journalist was stopped at the airport when she was flying from Delhi to Paris to receive the award.
9. Release of Shaheen Bagh Protesters: We demand the immediate release of innocent protesters who participated in the Shaheen Bagh protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
10. Social Reform: We are working hard for social reform, eliminating dowry demands in marriages, discouraging extravagant marriages, and counselling couples for marital disputes within the Muslim community. It appealed to the Muslim community to encourage simple marriages.
11. Promoting Higher Education: It appealed to parents not to hinder their daughters’ pursuit of higher education. We urge parents to encourage the higher education of girls. Likewise, we urge Muslim female students to maintain their hijab while pursuing their educational goals.
12. Financial support for girl’s education: We are committed to ensuring that the daughters of underprivileged families have full access to government schools and educational institutions for the completion of their studies.
13. Women Empowerment Schemes: There is a need for effective utilization of women empowerment schemes.
14. Appeal to Political Parties: We appeal to all secular and democratic political parties to prioritize the welfare of Muslim students and women, especially after their successes in the upcoming state elections.
15. Unity: We appeal for unity among the Muslim community, the 10 crore women and girls, to transcend sectarian divisions and collaborate in building a just righteous, developed, and modern society.
As concerned citizens of the Muslim community, we are deeply committed to addressing these urgent and pressing issues and challenges faced by Muslim women and students in India. Dr. Zahra, who was earlier working with the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s women’s wing,
In response to a question, she said the criminalization of triple talaq was not in favour of Muslim women, as the act makes women destitute. She said the act was passed to appease the Hindutva constituency, not for the good of Muslim women.
In the first body through elections, Dr. Asma Zahra has been elected as the President, while Mrs. Zakia Moin Hyderabad, Mrs. Mamdooha Majid from New Delhi, Dr. Neelam Ghazala from Kolkata, and Mrs. Afroz Fatma Jafri from Noida have been elected as Vice Presidents. Ms. Uzma Parekh, Nagpur, is the general secretary, and Ms. Huda Rawal is the organizing secretary.