June 9, 2012 1:08:15 am
City-based activists are shocked over the Delhi High Court ruling that a Muslim girl can marry at 15 if she has attained puberty. The bench gave its ruling on a Delhi Muslim girl’s contention that she had married on her own free will when she was 15 years old and that her mother’s charge that she was abducted be dropped. She won the case.
City-based social activist and head of minority cell of Indian Institute of Education Razia Patel said it was a “shocking” ruling. “If the official minimum age to wed in India is 18 years,how can it be different in this case?”questioned Patel. Questioning the interpretation of law by the judiciary,she said it did not seem to be on the lines of social justice and conscience in the present democratic set up. “There are people asking for implementation of Manusmriti and Shariat law,and this is where the role of judiciary attains significance. It is essential for a girl to be educationally and economically independent and this would give her empowerment. We seem to be heading backwards instead of having a progressive outlook,” said Patel.
While stating All India Democratic Women’s Association statement,state president Kiran Moghe said the ruling “in effect condones child marriage.
”Despite scientific studies underlying 18 years as the suitable minimum age of marriage for girls,the fact that the High Court has delivered this regressive judgement invoking Muslim Personal Laws is a setback for women’s rights,and would impact adversely on Muslim girls’ access to education and increase her vulnerability to maternal mortality and morbidity. The possibility of informed consent by a 15 year old girl is by itself highly suspect and cannot be upheld as a norm. The judgement may pave way for child marriages in India in the guise of a girl’s consent,” said Moghe.
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The statement further stated that Muslim Personal laws are not codified in India and vary according to interpretation.
Sayyed Bhai from Muslim Satyshodhak Samaj said even as drives against female foeticide and laws against dowry are being implemented,this ruling is draconian and again delegates women as “secondary citizens”. He said they plan to approach the SC against this ruling and will call on for a signature campaign from women. He further said the ruling on girls attaining puberty seem even more shocking as the age of puberty can even be 11-12 years. “Can they then permit marriage at that age?” he questions. Child rights activist Anjali Kate says how can a ruling be given against the official marriagable age in the country. “How is a Muslim women different from other women,” she said.
While founder member Pragatisheel Bharatiya Muslim Andolan Anwar Rajan is hopeful that the Supreme Court will take the necessary decision. “As members we will challenge the ruling in the SC. Why are Muslim women treated differently,says Rajan.
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