Effects of Feminism Not Reachable to All Indian Women?

Recently Indian newspapers have been flooded with reports about the Dar-ul-Uloom?s (an Islamic school propagating Sunni Islam in India) fatwa stating that it is un-Islamic for women to work with men. Yet again we appear to be at the crossroads: having to choose between antiquated traditions and moving forward into a society where men and women are accorded with the same level of respect and treated as equals.

As Indian society is relaxing its earlier rigid views about women and their position in society and allowing them to go out and work in cities, the Muslim clerics are adamant about regressing back in time and making sure that the benefits of feminism and society?'s more liberal attitude towards women aren?t passed on to Indian Muslim women.

As usual, a huge fury erupted after the fatwa was issued with many Muslims divided on the issue. It seems that as a silent feminist movement is in the works in India, Muslim women are largely not included in it.

Already Muslim women have been held back from the effects of liberalization that overtook the Western world in the 1960'?s and are at present slowly seeping into Indian society. Indian Muslim women were just beginning to take small steps towards becoming more empowered when the Dar-ul-Uloom had to go and declare such a fatwa making it unfit for women to work with men.

Why curb Indian Muslim women?s rights to such an extent? What does the Dar-ul-Uloom expect to achieve? Do they want all women to stay at home and have babies?

Think of this: there are so many amazingly intelligent young Muslim girls out there who are being robbed of higher education, who are being robbed of the ability to contribute to society and make it a better place for us to live in. Back in my old school there were quite a few girls who already knew that by the time they completed the 10th grade and were declared literate that they would be married off and sent away from their parents to go live with their husbands. They didn?'t even protest. It has literally been ingrained into their heads since the time they were kids that they are expected to grow up, get married, stay at home and have kids. And the thing is, when such a notion is being put into your head right from the time that you were a little kid, its pretty obvious that unless your extremely determined and rebellious, you're most certainly going to follow through with what your being told.

Indian Muslim women barely have any established organizations that will allow them to voice their views and allow them to protest and be there for them to fall back on once they do decide to protest. They've been brought up in a culture where they are raised to be dependent on their parents and then transferred from their parents to their husbands. They spend their entire life being protected and shielded, never once taking chances or choosing to be different because they know that they will be shunned by their own society.

But the thing is they just need to step up and take a stand. I mean, sure it?s going to be hard. Even when Mahatma Gandhi decided to fight for Indian freedom, it wasn?t an easy feat. But he did it and ended up prevailing against the British.

If you fight long enough and hard enough for something you truly believe in you can achieve it. After all, it's their own life, they have exactly one shot to make the most of it, to live it to the fullest and be given the freedom to do what they want to. And when such an opportunity (The Dar-ul-Uloom?s fatwa has managed to generate a significant amount of sympathy towards the plight of Indian Muslim women) as this arises they have to step up, take a stand, and be brave. Sure you're leaping towards the unknown. You don?t know what exactly is going to come your way. But at the same time, you have to hope that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

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Aleka Raju
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