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Women’s Rights: Equality doesn’t mean sameness: Faizan Mustafa


Hyderabad: Prof. Faizan Mustafa, eminent jurist and Vice Chancellor of NALSAR, University of Law, said on Tuesday that equality does not mean ‘sameness’ and law forms a small part of traditions and culture of the country. Speaking against the background of ongoing debate over Muslim Personal Law in the country he reiterated that Islam recognizes the rights of women in the society and puts demand on its followers to recognize them in principle and practice. He was speaking at the inaugural session of training programme, “Rights of Women,” organized by Centre for Women Studies (MANUU) in collaboration with National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi.

Prof. Mustafa pointed out that Hindu Code Bill has borrowed many things from Islam. In this context he referred to the law of inheritance. Under the Hindu law divorce was unimaginable. “Islam is the first religion which provides the option of separation among couples as the last resort while describing marriage as a contract,” he pointed out. Throwing light on the codification of laws in India he said the credit goes to British colonial rulers. However, their mentality was influenced by Biblical teachings which reflected in their interpretation of law.

Men have never accepted the distinctive and independent entity of women. However, Islam rejects this stand. During the British era William Jones had ordered the translation of Muslim Jurisprudence book, Hidayah and the Hindu source of law Dharmashastra. “Since the translator was unaware of Arabic, Hidayah was first translated into Persian. The publisher, for the convenience of users, clubbed the four volumes into one. British rulers took it as code of law though it was in fact a bunch of jurisprudence opinions,” he elaborated.

Referring to the debate over Uniform Civil Code and declaration filed by government in the Supreme Court, Prof. Faizan Mustafa said that in past the Apex Court avoided the issue and left it to the will of Parliament. “As a matter of fact no Muslim victim women ever approached Supreme Court. In the current scenario, Supreme Court had expressed desire to entertain any PIL filed on behalf of Muslim women,” he informed. “As far as polygamy is concerned, it is more prevalent in the Hindu community. In most of the cases the aggrieved women cannot even prove the guilt in the court,” he said.

Instead of forcing uniformity the need for the nation was to acknowledge the differences and establish equality on that ground. “Uniform civil code shall not be imposed upon for the sake of it. Laws alone do not provide solution to the problems. There is need for change in the attitude of men towards women,” he added.

Prof. Ahmedullah Khan, Retired Dean, Faculty of Law, Osmania University was the guest of honour. Prof. S M Rahmathullah, Dean, School of Arts and Social Sciences (MANUU) presided over the inaugural session. Earlier, Dr. Amena Tahseen, Director, Centre for Women Studies welcomed the gathering and introduced the guests.

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