Bhopal:Saturday, March 7, 2009:Member of the National Law Commission Prof. Tahir Mahmood has stressed the need for change in social psyche vis-à-vis women to give them a fair deal and to ensure protection of their rights. He said that the age old concept that once a girl is married off must live till death her husband’s family howsoever difficult or humiliating conditions may exist there for her.Prof. Mahmood was addressing a symposium on “Laws for Indian Women and Human Rights” organised by Madhya Pradesh Human Rights commission on the eve of International Women’s Day here today. Retired Supreme Court judge Justice Dr. P.P. Navalekar presided over the symposium. Chairman of Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari; members Justice Shri Narayan Singh ‘Azad’ and Shri Vijay Shukla; chairperson of State Women Commission Smt. Krishnakanta Tomar and member Smt Upama Rai were especially present on the occasion.Prof. Mahmood said that any sacred book including the holy Quran has not subordinates women. The Quran enjoins upon all to give highest respect and regard to mother. The right to life, right to dignity, right to education and right to equality have been recognised as human rights. This concept of human rights evolved in the 20th century but the Quran begins with the injunction to acquire knowledge. The holy Quran says that it is the duty of women to be educated.
The Prophet Mohammad Saheb had said that one must go anywhere to acquire knowledge. Prof. Mahmood said that it is an irony that a survey in Haryana has revealed that 98 Percent Muslim women are illiterate. He said that a non-Muslim, after reading the Quran observed that what this holy book said about rights of women about 1500 years ago will be relevant even for 1000 years since now. Referring to the misconceptions about biogamy among Muslims he said that to ensure that non-Muslims cannot take undue advantage of this. The National Law Commission has recommended that a Hindu man cannot marry again until he divorces his first wife. He said that there are many discrepancies in Hindu laws also with regard to women. Joint families are fast disintegrating in India leading to insecurity of women. He said that 1500 years ago the Prophet Mohammad Saheb had advocated the right of daughters in their father’s property but the community is not discharging this responsibility. In rural India women are not aware of their rights, he regretted.
Justice Dr. P.P. Navalekar said that our country has witnessed framing of plethora of laws of women aimed at empowerment of women. The human rights of women are included in the Human Rights Declaration. Gender equality is already included in the tenets of our constitution. Indian laws have been considerably amended to put a curb on atrocities against women. The laws pertaining to domestic violence, sexual exploitation at workplaces, dowry victimisation etc have gone a long way in providing social security to women. He said that these laws aim at social and economic empowerment of women. Unless women are economically self-reliant it would be difficult to protect their rights, he added.
The Chairperson of State Women commission Smt.Krishnakanta Tomar stressed the need for social awareness for protection of women’s rights. She said that of late a number of laws have been enacted in favour of women but women are not aware of them. She said that almost fifty percent of the cases reported to the Commission pertain to domestic violence. The state government has taken a very significant initiative in this direction by implementing Usha Kiran Yojana. She stressed the need for attitudinal change to prevent female foeticide.Member of the Commission Smt. Upama Rai regretted that the lawyers nominated to plead the cases of poor women under lead aid scheme do not take desired interest due to which these women find it difficult to get justice in the court of law. She said that in many cases the lawyers resort to manipulation leading to ex-parte judgement against women. Smt. Rai said that in rape cases hardly ten percent women get justice. In 90 percent cases pertaining to modesty women do not speak lie, yet they are denied justice. She said that there are examples where inordinate delay was made in registering FIR in cases of dowry death. She also called for simplification of laws for women.
Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari said that the Constitution gives equal rights to men and women, but in reality they fail to get actual benefit of them. Of course, laws do exist, but a suitable social atmosphere does not exist for their proper implementation. He said that there are many discrepancies in the laws framed for followers of different religious faiths, but the irony is that nobody raises a voice against them. Shri Dharmadhikari regretted the disintegration of joint families. As a result Hindu community which considered marriage a Sanskar or rite has now started going for divorce with mutual consent. There is need to appreciate and understand the spirit of laws to ensure their proper benefit to the people.
Prof. Gayur Alam of the National Law Institute University Bhopal and his students also expressed their views on the occasion. Justice Shri Narayan Singh ‘Azad’ proposed a vote of thanks.