Gender Justice and Violence: The Politics of Reforming Personal Laws in India

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Abdulrahim VIJAPUR, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh,, India
One of the most enduring cliches about Indian women is that it is the country of contradictions. Like all cliches, this too has a grain of truth in it. At the heart of the contradiction stand Indian women -- both Hindu and Muslim. It is true that women in India are the most oppressed in the world. It is equally true that they (only some of them) are among the most liberated, the most articulate and perhaps most free. Can these two realities be simultaneously true? Despite the codification of Muslim law in 1930s and the Hindu Personal laws in 1950s, the enactment of many other laws to deal with crimes against women, such as dowry deaths, rape, sati, sexual harassment at workplace, denial of education and inheritance rights, the status of women in India has not improved. This paper attempts to explore answers to the following questions: Is there a relationship between gender violence or discrimination and the religion-based family laws? Does Hinduism and Islam provide for gender justice and equality in their religious texts and scriptures? To what extent this equality of sexes is found in practice among Hindus and Muslims? Are there any deviations from the scriptural precepts of gender equality? What reformative measures have been undertaken by Indian Government to improve the status of women by enacting various laws? Are there any social movements or women's movements for gender equality in contemporary India? What has been the role of the Supreme Court of India to enforce the constitutional precepts of gender equality and address the issue of gender violence? Has the ratification of CEDAW by India has made any difference to address these issues?