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Fatwa and Khap Panchayats

A day after the Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh issued a bizarre fatwa banning women from plucking, trimming and shaping their eyebrows and cutting hair, clerics of Majlis-e-Shura, a religious conglomerate in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district, followed by issuing a diktat barring women from going out alone in public. According to the diktat, women can’t go to markets and public events alone, they must not interact with men on the streets and there will be separate classrooms for boys and girls in schools as co-education is ‘un-Islamic’. The list also said that music should be banned at marriage ceremonies and any kind of entertainment during weddings will lead to the violators being socially boycotted.

Such fissiparous Fatwa issued by Muslim clergies or regressive pronouncements made by Hindu Khaps against women reflects the destructive attitude towards women and create a negative image of the society.  Diktats like eating of chowmein (a Chinese dish) being the reason for rise of rapes or suggesting that the age of marriage to be dropped from 18 to 16 to make young women less susceptible to rape are all illogical and more often than not laughable. There is a myth in the society that these Fatwas/pronouncement are binding in nature and protect women; however on the contrary these badly affect and victimize women. It is precisely because they have no legal status that fatwa-givers, Dar ul Qazas and Khaps enjoy limitless power. There have been some controversial Fatwa like the one against Taslima Nasreen, which offered unlimited financial rewards to anybody who would kill her or the Fatwa issued by a Maulvi in Midnapore (West Bengal) on the dress code of Sania Mirza, which aroused the highest controversy and raised people’s doubts about the relevance of Fatwa in modern times. Fatwa like the one on triple Talaq where accepting the validity of three pronouncements of divorce given by husband to his wife on Skype, and to remarry again, asking wife to go through the Halala where she has to marry another person and establish conjugal relations with him and after he divorces her, then only she can marry her former husband have scarred Muslim women for life. There is a need to prepare an action plan to prevent the increasing trend of issuing unnecessary, mischievous (honour killing, triple talaq, no personal grooming, travel ban, women banned from working) Fatwa/pronouncements by the uneducated and the hard liners.

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