MICHAEL VAZ, MERCES
IT is worth tracing the fight of the womenfolk in our country which is pervaded with patriarchal domineering since ages. One of the most striking and earliest cases in this regard is the historic Shah Bano case, in which a 62-year-old Muslim woman and mother of five children who had been divorced in 1978, demanded adequate maintenance from her husband, which was denied. She took courage and filed a criminal lawsuit. When the Supreme Court favoured her petition the orthodox Muslims could not digest it as they found it in conflict with their Shariat law. The then Rajiv Gandhi government subverted the verdict and brought in a separate legislation in conformity with the Islamic law, much to the annoyance of all right-thinking people. And for the first time voices were raised for a uniform civil code on matters pertaining to family like marriage, divorce, adoption, alimony and inheritance, irrespective of religion. Next, after three decades we have the Shayara Bano case, in which the Muslim woman, who had been subjected to triple talaq, challenged it in the court of law. When the matter came up in the SC along with a bunch of other petitions from women organisations against the archaic practice, the NDA government made its stand clear that the custom is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates the dignity of the Muslim women. It spared no moment to introduce a bill to criminalise the practice. The Congress instead of supporting the bill put up a ridiculous argument that if the husband is jailed for the offence, who will feed the family. Let us see whether in this monsoon session of Parliament the bill will have a clear passage. In the Sabarimala temple the women in the menstrual age group of 10-50 years are banned from entering the shrine for worship under the ill-founded belief that Lord Ayappa, whose idol is housed therein, was a celibate and wants the women in the reproductive age group to be kept at bay. The Kerala government has rightly said that it wants the entry to be open for all irrespective of age or sex. It is pleasing to note that even in the LGBTQ case to decriminalise Section 377 of the IPC, the government has acted prudently saying that it would leave the issue to the wisdom of the court. The primitive customs and traditions can only be uprooted through an indomitable will to fight the injustice.