NEW DELHI: A number of women activists on Friday wrote an open letter to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the State Women’s Commission (SWC) to seek their intervention in a young woman Hadiya’s “forcible” confinement at her parents’ house and demanded state protection for her.
“As women’s rights activists from across the country, we urge you to take steps to ensure that Hadiya is not forcibly confined in the home of her natal family, denied the right to cohabit with her husband, and be subjected to coercion for exercising opting for faith of her choice,” the letter to the Chief Minister read.
The letter — signed by around 70 women activists and kindred groups — demanded an immediate visit by the women’s panel members to Hadiya, and a probe of human rights violations, if any, in her case.
The women activists also demanded that she be given access to a phone through which she can communicate beyond her parental home’s walls in “virtual house arrest”.
Hadiya, 24, was born Akhila Ashokan in a Hindu family in Kerala. She converted to Islam and married Shafin Jahan, 27, in December 2016.
On May 25, the Kerala High Court declared as “null and void” their marriage, terming it a “sham” and ordered for placing her in her parents’ protective custody.
On August 16, the Supreme Court ordered an National Investigation Agency probe supervised by retired apex court Justice R.V. Raveendran into the conversion and her subsequent marriage to Jahan.
Jahan has since challenged the High Court order in the top court, saying the order was an “insult to the independence of woman in India”.
The women activists also thanked the women’s commission’s efforts in the case through a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court and urged the Vijayan to ensure restoration of Hadiya’s rights and freedom.
“It is alarming to have an adult woman today to be ordered into ‘protective custody’ of her parents home under court orders, denied mobility, communication, and the company of her friends and well-wishers.
“Reports of domestic violence at the hands of her family which, if true, is a travesty that places upon your commission the duty of initiating an inquiry. This situation cannot be ignored or allowed to continue,” the letter added.