Is Uniform Civil Code Relevant in Indian Society??? Part 1

There is a very good reason why the All India Muslim Personal Law Board is opposing the Uniform Civil Code. Uniform civil code is the proposal to replace the Personal Laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in India with a common set governing every citizen. These laws are DISTINGUISHED from public law and cover marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance.

Any regular person would wonder why any proposal to empower women in marriage should be opposed, that too, so vehemently by men. One reason is Mutah Marriages and Misyar Marriages, both currently legal in the Indian context. What are these marriages as different from Nikahs? Both these forms of marriages are temporary in nature and only aim to suppress the women. Mutah marriages are followed by the Shias and Misyar Marriages are followed by the Sunnis.

Mutah marriages are time-bound marriages – that is, the man and woman remain married for one day, three days, one week, a year or as is decided by them. It was the rage in Kerala and erstwhile Andhra Pradesh … do you remember reading about 13 year old girls marrying 50+ years old Arabs? That was the Mutah marriage. These days it is still being done, but without any noise from the media. Simply put, it is a form of legal prostitution. The mehr (dowry) is decided in advance, the wife has no rights over the husband whatsoever and when the decided term is over, the husband can just leave and go. The girl must wait for a break of 2 menstrual cycles till she can do this kind of marriage again. This is so that if a child is born from such a union, the ex-husband can decide whether the child should be accepted as a legal heir or not.

Misyar marriages are not time-bound but in such a marriage either of the partners decides to give up on some rights of marriage. These rights could be financial help to the wife, property to the wife, staying with the spouse rights or bringing up the children rights. This marriage also helps the man decide whether it would be a day-marriage or a night-marriage ie. whether the wife has a right over his day-time or his night-time. Sorry if I sound a little blunt, but this is what I read while doing research. Needless to say, there is absolutely no stability in this marriage for the wife. The man is not required to be faithful to this wife with respect to self or finances. The children too cannot take comfort in the presence of their father. Here too, when the man decided, he can excuse himself from the marriage and whatever existing rights the woman may demand.

If the internet is to be believed, finding Mutah or Misyar Partners is a roaring business in India. It must be mentioned here that most educated Muslims frown on this form of marriage and in fact, some sections even state that this form of marriage has no sanction as per the Prophet. Those that support these marriages claim that it actually helps financially downtrodden women and widows. But any reasonable person will see through this claim and understand that it actually exploits these women.

Add the ease of ‘triple talaaq’ to the above and one will realize how skewed the Muslim world has become with respect to the rights of the women in the community. The Koran may have given respect to women in Islam, but the ground reality is different. The statements of the AIMPLB are witness to this fact. The Indian Government and Judiciary should not back down. They should make the Uniform Civil Code a reality and uphold the honour and rights of women of all religions and communities equally.

Jai Hind!

Rati Hegde