Minorities Welfare Department to set up cell to help Muslim women come out of troubled wedlocks

Marriages and shipwrecks have a lot in common – the rocks they end up on.

While marital disputes invariably bring misery and break up homes, in Muslim community, women are the worst affected. Most of them are left in the lurch, with their spouses neither divorcing nor allowing them to seek ‘khula’ to dissolve the marriage.

Islam provides women, who feel they cannot continue the marriage, a way out through khula, wherein the wife waives off the ‘mehr’ or a part of it and seeks divorce from her husband.

But in most cases, this right is denied by the latter, leading to court cases. Pendency of such cases in family courts run into thousands, it is said.

Call for changes

Now, there is a ray of hope for the ‘wronged’ women, with the Department of Minorities Welfare considering setting up a legal cell under the Wakf Board to address the issue. There is also a move to propose amendments to the Khazi Act of 1880 to empower khazis.

“The government is seized of the matter. Something will be done soon to bring relief to the harassed Muslim women,” says Omer Jaleel, Special Secretary, Department of Minorities Welfare.

The A.P. State Minorities Commission (APSMC) has also decided to help Muslim women who are leading a miserable life, with their husbands neither taking care of them nor allowing them to dissolve the marriage through khula.

“A state-level conference of religious scholars, intellectuals and political parties will be held soon to discuss the issue to find an abiding solution,” said Abid Rasool Khan, Chairman, APSMC.

Quite a few suggestions emerged at a programme organised by the APSMC here on Saturday to elicit the views of ulemas, intellectuals and aggrieved women.

Sorting out disputes

The discussion centred on how to release the wife from wedlock if the husband refuses to give khula.

The dominant view was that marital disputes should be sorted out before the ‘Darul Qaza’ or Sharia panchayats instead of approaching courts where cases hang fire for years.

Mediation

“Darul Qaza is not a parallel judicial system. It only seeks to lessen the burden of courts through mediation,” says Dr. Abdul Moiz, a religious scholar.

“When Nikah is solemnised by a Khazi, it is only proper that he should dissolve it through divorce or khula. The courts can’t arbitrate in matters concerning personal law,” says Mohd. Mohiuddin, who champions the cause of aggrieved Muslim women through his Sada-e-Haq Sharia Council.

Nominees for arbitration

There was also a suggestion to add a column in the ‘Nikahnama’ issued by the Wakf Board, wherein the names of two nominees of the newly-wed should be mentioned to arbitrate in case of a dispute.

Dr. Rafat Seema of Nisa Resource Centre for Women wants the Darul Qaza to be strengthened and women members included in it.

“The objective of Nikah is love, affection and peace of mind, and if these are not present, it is better for the spouses to part ways rather than lead a life of misery,” she says, narrating the plight of women who are caught in incompatible wedlock.

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