In Uttar Pradesh, Naish Hasan and her organisation, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, have emerged as a voice for the poor Muslim women, challenging deep-rooted patriarchy in the community. Recently, Hasan has raised the demand for Muslim marriage registration in the state, a step she feels is essential for empowering women in the community.
At present, there are no arrangements in Uttar Pradesh for registration of Muslim marriages, which creates many problems for women when they want to claim their rights and entitlements, says Hasan. “It makes it easier for a man to pronounce ‘teen talaak’ and leave the woman,” says the 40-year-old activist, who has been demanding a ban on practices of ‘teen talaak’ and ‘halala’ and advocating codification of Muslim Personal Law. “We are not asking for compulsory registration of marriage at this point, but at least there should be an arrangement in place for marriage registration,” she says. After raising the issue with the government without much success, she is now planning to file a public interest litigation in the Allahabad High Court. The registration will also help women get visas for travelling to other countries with their husbands, she says.
An ardent advocate of gender equality, Hasan was the first to get a Muslim marriage registered by a woman qazi, when Sayeda Hameed, a Planning Commission member, read the marriage sermons for Hasan and her husband in 2008, a step much appreciated by women rights activists.
It was Hasan’s organisation that raised the issue of women not being allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum that houses the tomb of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari at Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.
Hasan believes that the Delhi gang rape and the protests that followed have for the first time brought the issue of women's empowerment and gender parity to such huge attention. “Though we have been raising the issue of violence against women for a very long time, it is after the pressure created by the protests after the Delhi gang rape that we are finally being heard,” says Naish.