July 8, 2002


 Search the Internet
Send this column to a friend
Print this page Best Printed on HP Laserjets
Recent Columns
Paedophilia and the
    the Muslim Board
Carefully constructed
Red in the face
The jilebi-wala who
    cried 'wolf'
That dreaded TINA

Varsha Bhosle

The UCC and Muslims

Today, this page was to consist of only Muslim readers' mail in support of the Uniform Civil Code -- so many did I receive in response to my article on the Muslim Board's rejection of the Child Marriages Restraint Act. But that was before the sainted editor wisely pointed out that such mail could well be written by Hindus with fake ids. A patsy I won't be, especially when alerted. However, there are three messages I believe to be genuine, based on past tu-tu-main-main with the writers, none of whom respond via web-based mail and whose IPs agree with the addresses. Each of these says something that deserves an expanded comment:

Reader Ateeq: "the first time I can wholeheartedly and completely agree with ms. bhonsle... not that she would care either way. this hijacking of Islam by idiots has gone on a bit too long... all this talk of puberty bullshit ignores strictures CLEARLY postulating that a woman CANNOT be married against her wish... do we Muslim men really care about the wishes of the better half??? I am not sure... self-loathing is becoming part of my life these days... what the hell is the problem with common law/Uniform Civil Code that gets these idiots (in this case AIMPLB) get all uppity!!!! it is applied everywhere in the world!"

Ateeq, I do not work a full week merely to dash off a pointless piece with no impact value, nor is stupid enough to finance ego trips. However, the nature of this beast is such that it responds cogently only if the reader airs his/her grievance politely. Otherwise, you gets just like you gives. Which might have made you think I don't care :-)

Apropos the better half, I'd drop that "Muslim" before "men." All men are the same when it comes to women's issues. Take the case of the oh-so-sensitive Leftists, who tout Capt Lakshmi as "the first woman to be fielded by any party ever for presidential polls." (The Hindustan Times, June 15). The Asian Age says, "The Left Front... has broken with convention by fielding a woman for President for the first time since Independence"; calls her "The first woman candidate to contest the post of India's President"; The Times of India writes she's "the first woman to fight for the top Constitutional post."

Well, in their eagerness to worship the pinkos, these esteemed publications, some of which have archives dating back a century, conveniently forget to mention what H Y Sharda Prasad wrote in The Deccan Herald: "Anyway, the credit for thinking of a woman Presidential candidate does not belong to the Leftists, but goes to Morarji Desai. It might be recalled that he wanted Rukmini Devi Arundale of Kalakshetra to adorn the position."

Why didn't the Leftists propose Capt Lakshmi's name for the Presidency in 1997? Didn't they have the votes then...? I'll answer that with another question: How many women are there in the CPI-M's politburo? Exactly...

And that's just in national politics. What happens inside homes is far more sordid. A January 12 report in the HT says, "While 90% of Meghalaya women had experienced domestic violence, 40% of Tamil Nadu women said they had been physically mistreated by family members from the age of 15." In a study by the International Center for Research on Women, a huge 50% of the women questioned reported having experienced physical and/or psychological violence at home. The study found that "domestic violence is pervasive across caste, class, education and employment status. Forty-five per cent upper caste women in rural Gujarat, for instance, have reported physical or psychological abuse. In Mumbai, special cell records show that over 36% of the women seeking help against violence are involved in paid work. Of these, a massive 70% have either primary or secondary education and a fifth are from the middle class."

I would never dream of saying that Hindu men care more for women's rights. They take more than one wife, they batter their wives, they use their women -- just as often as the Muslim, Christian or Sikh. The only difference is, if the Hindu woman is determined enough, she can drag the man to court and get justice. Which the Muslim woman, no matter how headstrong, simply cannot.

But before the wounded sex pipes up, let me also say, there's no difference between women of different religions, either. November 2000's National Family Health Survey, interviewing 90,000 urban Indian women, showed that a startling 56% accepted wife-beating as justified under certain conditions. In the US, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is forced to expose myths such as "battering is a family matter and the community should not interfere in family matters" and "victims provoke their partner's violence," so that silently suffering women recognise wife-bashing as "a crime with serious repercussions." And guess what, the original report in The Hindu, titled "AIMPLB wants exemption from Child Marriage Act," featured a photograph showing 3 Muslim women who were party to the deliberations on and passing of that odious resolution: Victims begging for their daughters to be victimised.

Ateeq, if you have the head and the heart to discern what your so-called leadership is doing, you certainly don't deserve to loathe yourself. Loathe those who have brought this upon you. And then act against them through any platform you can get, even if it be a newsgroup. As you can see, it's been more than a week since the Muslim Board declared its support for paedophilia, and not a single columnist, not a single NGO, has risen against it. If you thought that the "secular" press would come to the M&Ms' assistance by raising a stink, think again. You see, Kuldip Nayar & Co have been busy protesting against "attempts by various government agencies to gag the press." Apparently, the plight of Time's Alex Perry and Tehelka's Kumar Badal is more dire than that of underaged Indian girls...

Reader Aziz: "The bane of 'secular' India has always been this kind of psuedo secularism. Under the guise of religious laws, different religions try to get away with all kinds of heinous and repulsive activities. It really is time for a Uniform Civil Code. I like reading your articles because (like in the first line), it shows me the good, bad and ugly about my fellow Indians."

Thank you, Aziz! It's gratifying that you acknowledge my exposing all kinds of Indians. Especially because it's the "secularist" Hindus who feel that by denuding the Muslim Board, I was maligning Islam and "adding poison to communal relations already damaged by anti-humanity Parivari murderers like you." There you have it from the horse's mouth: "pseudo secularism," heeheehee!

Reader Jaffrey: "I am glad you condemn the despicable intentions of the VHP, just as I condemn the despicable intentions of the Muslim Board. Glad we agree on a count! They do nothing to further the interests of the common Indian. I agree:
1. We need one set of law for ALL Indians - irrespective of personal beliefs (equally applicable to all citizens).
2. The justice system must enforce these laws -- irrespective of personal beliefs.
3. No other law takes precedence in the justice system -- irrespective of personal beliefs.
4. The law should be equally enforced -- irrespective of personal beliefs.
Finally - I hope you were being facetious when you said you enjoyed the smell of baking corpses in Gujarat!"

Jaffrey... er... that bit about corpses was written after being particularly irritated by your jibes. But as long as we agree on the all-important issue of the UCC, I hope the rest is forgiven and forgotten.

But Jaffrey's mail reminds me of reader Hussain's, as a study in contrast: "After 1947, independent of what happened before that, our Constitution has to be followed. Any Indian can become President irrespective of his religion and that's what is happening. His religion is his private affair... Regarding the UCC, I still can't see how it is a burning issue. The Criminal code is being followed because of the Constitution. As far as reservations are concerned, minorities cannot apply for reservation jobs, isn't it a discrimination?"

No matter how many messages I've perused over the years, I'm still amazed by how differently people can think on crucial issues affecting the whole country. From the rest of his mail, I can gauge that Hussain isn't a Quran-thumping beard in the mould of Bukhari. However, even though he says that the Constitution of India must be followed, there's also resistance to Article 44, which seeks to introduce a uniform personal law through the unambiguous mandate: "The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India."

If the Constitution must be followed, and the criminal code is being followed because of the Constitution, why should the UCC not be implemented...? Why should Hindu men be forced to give up polygamy, but not Muslims? Sure, Hindus, too, take second and third "wives." Point is, when bigamy is proven, these scumbags are liable for prosecution -- whereas a Muslim is not. Why shouldn't this discrimination gall a Hindu man...? Why should the Criminal Procedure Code be followed by Indian Muslims, but not a universal personal code...? If I say to a Muslim, cool, take as many wives as you want, but then also get your hand lopped off for stealing as per the Shariat, in what way am I being irrational? Hussain, you can't have one and not have the other - as per Muslim MALE convenience.

As for reservations -- which I totally reject in theory and abhor in practice -- in a so-called secular State, should reservations be based on religion or the economic condition of its citizens? Is the deprived Muslim any more deprived than the poverty-stricken Hindu or the penniless Christian?? How...?

To top that ignominiously self-seeking demand, Muslims claim that Islam is superior to Hinduism because caste discrimination doesn't exist in the religion. Fine, agreed! Then, what is a "Muslim Dalit"? Why is Dr Ejaz Ali asking for reservations for "Backward Caste Muslims"? Who keeps away from them in matrimonial matters -- the Ashraf or the Agarkar...? If Dalit Muslims exist, then they must acknowledge their being discriminated-against Hindus! You can't have the "best" of both worlds at your convenience.

It is this kind of hypocrisy that infuriates me. And I, being rich, and a woman, and a so-called upper caste, do not suffer from the discriminatory policies instated by the "secularists"! But what about the Hindu/Dalit man who wants to take more than one wife or whose reserved seat is sought to be taken by a Muslim...? Who is going to douse his anger when he takes to the streets, trishul in hand...?

Riots are a mere symptom of such antagonism against a community *perceived* to be getting more than the rest. Hindu rioters could be created by politicians -- but no politician can create the required fury without the ammunition given by the repugnant mullahs and the loathsome "secularists." You can throw into jail the entire Sangh Parivar for Gujarat. But what next? Can you arrest every Hindu who resents the inequality in laws and vents his ire in his own devious ways...?

The J&K government has started levying an entry tax of Rs 2,000 for each bus carrying pilgrims to Vaishnodevi and an additional charge of Rs 2,000 on stay for more than three nights in the state. And Muslims should get huge subsidies for the Haj -- augmented by the same Hindu pilgrims who are now taxed for visiting a shrine with their own money...? Why??? Tell me why this should not anger a Hindu.

Varsha Bhosle

Tell us what you think of this column