No question of equal rights to women
Kerala (VSK). Government of Kerala led by CPM supremo and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has once again proved that it is bound to crawl before Islamic fundamentalists when they ask it to kneel. This is what the state witnessed when GoK withdrew the oath Kudumbashree volunteers were supposed to take during Gender Resources Meeting between November 25 to December 23, 2022.
Reason for this shameful climb down is simple – Nasar Faizi Koodathayi, a leader of Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyathul Qutba Committee, a powerful Islamic religious body, objected. Because, the oath says, “We will provide equal rights for both male and female over the property,” Koodathai says, it violates religious freedom and goes against the principles of Quran. He says it is against Sharia Law. He says, the pledge was against the fundamental rights of religious freedom granted by the Constitution. The state government has been organising various praise worthy projects through Kudumbashree, as part of the gender campaign conducted by the Union Rural Development Ministry. But, equal right for male and female over the ancestral property is not acceptable for Islamic principles.
Koodathai maintains, as per Quran, a man is entitled to have the share of property equal to that of two women and the female member is allowed half of what a male member gets from father’s property. However, he claims that it is not discrimination since the man takes total responsibility of looking after the family. Given the expenses a male has to bear to look after a family, this Quran Law cannot be considered as discrimination. Negation of this religious right will lead to protests.
Koodathai was recently in news for his statement against football craze gripping the young generation. He thinks, Kutumbashree oath will serve as a helping hand to the drive for Common Civil Code. This new controversy unleashed by Koodathai has hit the headlines of even the national media.
The GoK’s withdrawal of the oath has invited the wrath of the Cyber World. Netizens wonder if GoK, by succumbing to the fundamentalist pressure, admits that women don’t deserve equal rights as men enjoy. They blast CM Pinarayi Vijayan for scrawling before the organised vote bank. They ask him to show will power like PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah do. Both had the will power to ban Muthalaq and raise marriage age for women.
Kudumbashree, a community organization of Neighborhood Groups (NHGs) of women in Kerala, has been recognized as an effective strategy for the empowerment of women in rural as well as urban sectors. It is intend to bring women together from all spheres of life to fight for their rights and empowerment. It is run by GoK. It was launched in May, 1998 by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Now, it is reported that new oath would be drafted and communicated to the programme officers of Kudumbashree.
In August, 2022, Muslim fundamentalist organisations and even self-styled ‘secular’ Indian Union Muslim League joined hands to oppose the draft proposals for the gender-neutral uniform for Kerala schools. It was part of the school curriculum framework being prepared by the State Council for Educational, Research and Training (SCERT).
Nationalist movements have come forward to protest against the shameful surrender of GoK before the fundamentalist forces. BJP state president said that the latest episode proves that the state is ruled by the forces of organised religious fundamentalists. GoK withdraws from each and every reform when the fundamentalists dictate their terms. This is what the state witnessed when the government withdrew from the proposals for gender neutral school uniform and PSC appointments to Waqf Board jobs. Withdrawal of Kudumbashree oath is blatant anti-women and reactionary. Is GoK going to implement Sharia rule here? They spent Rs 50 crores for Women’s Renaissance Wall only for taking controversial women to Shabarimala and hence breaking age long traditions in the shrine. Surendran added that now government is compromising Constitutional fundamental rights for equality.
One thing is true; Every step of Pinarayi is based on the diktats of fundamentalist forces. He is least bothered about the people he rules, let alone the posterity.