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“Clerics' opposition to women's Bill a diversionary tactic”

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‘We shall overcome': Newly-nominated Rajya Sabha member Javed Akhtar addressing a meeting in support of the Women's Reservation Bill at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday.
‘We shall overcome': Newly-nominated Rajya Sabha member Javed Akhtar addressing a meeting in support of the Women's Reservation Bill at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday.

Staff Reporter

Reservation for women is enevitable: Javed Akhtar

‘Clerics and political parties are suddenly concerned about the plight of Muslim women'

‘Muslim Personal Law Board never provided any quotas for women in any field'

NEW DELHI: Reservation for women is inevitable and cannot be prevented from taking place, said eminent lyricist-writer Javed Akhtar, who has just been nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President, here on Saturday.

Speaking at a protest meeting to support the Women's Reservation Bill and to condemn allegedly reprehensible statements made by clerics with regard to women, Mr. Akhtar said it was disappointing that reservations for women had not taken place earlier.

Exposed

Those who are protesting against the Bill on the ground that it does not provide representation to Muslim and Other Backward Classes women have been exposed, said Mr. Akhtar.

“What right does the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board have to ask for a quota for Muslim women in Parliament when it has never provided any quotas for women in any field?” Mr. Akhtar asked, adding that political parties opposing the Bill too had not spoken up for Muslim women's rights in the past.

Scared

According to Mr. Akhtar, parties are opposing the Bill as members are scared of having their privileges taken away. “Clerics cannot deny Muslim women their rights as they are also Indian women and are entitled to Constitutional rights,” he said.

A statement was released at the meeting which said once the Women's Reservation Bill “is adopted there can and will be democratic processes through which space and genuine participations for excluded women including Muslim women can be worked out”.

Space in the party

Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD) member Shabnam Hashmi said: “If parties are concerned about the plight of Muslim and OBC women, they can allot them space in the party and the political structure but they must not protest reservation for women.” “The clerics who are remembering Islam and the political parties who are suddenly concerned about the plight of Muslim women are protesting against the Bill as a diversionary tactic so that it is not passed. They should know that it is important for the Women's Reservation Bill to be passed,” she added.

All-India Democratic Women's Association member Sehba Farooqui said: “Reservations for women will not transform society overnight. Yet it is a step forward towards empowering women.”

Lawyer Khadija pointed out: “When Muslim women participated in the struggle for India's independence, they were not fighting for their own independence but for the country's independence as a whole. Similarly we do not want distinct reservations for Muslim, OBC or Dalit women but for women in general.”

Speakers emphasised that identities of women as Muslim or OBC were being emphasised more and the identities of women as women were being rendered secondary. “Clerics and so-called scholars who are protesting against women in positions of power are negating Islam,” said Muslims for Secular Democracy member Javed Anand.

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