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100 per cent male-bashing to 33 per cent women quota bill in UP Unman Like

Updated: April 17, 2010 11:06 am

The 33 per cent women reservation Bill, seeking seats for women in Parliament and state assemblies has seen 100 per cent male bashing in Uttar Pradesh, the state which has the highest number of Muslims. The opposition has come from every strata of males, be it prominent clerics like Kalbe Jawwed, or leader of Samajwadi Party, Mulayam Singh Yadav.

            UP’s male sentiments towards the issue can be gauged from the fact that at the time when the nation’s women were crying hoarse in support of the Bill, the All India Muslim Person Law Board, the supreme welfare body of Indian Muslims, did not even consider the issue important enough to be placed on their agenda at the two day national convention held in Lucknow on March 19 and 20. The Board which has 250 members and 41 executive members has 30 women on board.

            Muslim clerics termed the Bill a well-planned conspiracy to reduce the representation of Muslim men

in Parliament. While the moderate among them advocated a ‘quota within’ quota for both Muslim and Dalit women but there were even some like Shia cleric and Imam-e-Jumma, Syed Kalbe Jawwed who invited the global wrath of women by stating that politics is not for Muslim women and that their sole responsibility is to stay at home within purdah and produce good leaders.

            This statement was in sharp contrast to the majority sentiments which felt that the real test of democracy is the creation of equality of opportunity for the hitherto deprived sections of society. A lot of women organisations, including Muslim women bodies have protested against the cleric’s statement.

            But Mulayam Singh seemed to have gone even a step further then Kalbe Jawwed. He declared at a meeting of his partymen that the Bill when passed will pave way for high society women to enter politics and they will invite cat calls and would be whistled at. When his remarks were criticised, instead of retracting and apologising the leader insisted that he was not sorry and that his remarks were intentional and the purpose was to start a debate on the issue.

            “Ask those who are in politics, they will confirm what I have said is the truth,” is how Mulayam confronted the opposition through his remark. As expected Mulayam’s sexist remarks stirred a hornet’s nest.

            “Why did Mulaym field his daughter in law when he had such a mindset? What about the many women in his own party?” asked Ms Naish Hasan of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan.

            The once bosom friend of Mulayam now turned worst foe Amar Singh was at his throat. Terming the remarks as ‘Taliban’. Amar Singh in his dramatic style apologised to the nation on television, especially to women for having nurtured a party whose leader held such biased, disrespectful opinion against women.

            Stressing that the reservation is essential for the development of society Dr Shibani Roy, a Delhi based anthropologist who has worked with Muslim women for 40 years she has been happily married to a Muslim and has a married daughter said: “At present it is clear that on the Quota Bill, issue society is now divided in two categories the man and woman. While the former oppose the Bill the latter support it. It is clear that the Bill that assures the interest of women, diminishes the position of men and they resent it.”

            Dr Roy who has traveled to Iran several times in connection with her work flayed Kalbe Jawwed’s remarks. She said it is wrong to presume that a woman will not be able to fulfill her responsibilities if she gets into Parliament.

            “How naïve to believe that a woman will cease to be a mother, sister, wife if she takes upon herself the mantle of a Parliamentarian. Trust a woman to have more sense.” said Dr Roy. “Only political and economic independence will lead to the true emancipation of women and empower them,” said senior journalist and member of the Press Council of India, Suman Gupta.

            “Why should the sole responsibility of looking after the children and home be left to the woman alone, men should be equal partners in this work. Then the question of women neglecting their house if she steps out to be in politics will not arise?” asked Ms Gupta. Asserting that only a woman can understand the pain of a woman sensitively, she said, that is why it is important that women come in the mainstream of politics.

            “It is difficult to imagine the universe without a woman, her entry in politics will ensure a better deal for both men and woman,” she emphasised.

By Kulsum Mustafa from Lucknow

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