Women demand ‘Uniformity Of Rights’ not Uniform Civil Code

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Women demand ‘Uniformity Of Rights’ not Uniform Civil Code

This petition had 506 supporters
MAJLIS LEGAL CENTRE - For Women and Children started this petition to Justice Dr. B S Chauhan (Law Commission of India) and

As citizens of India concerned with gender justice and minority rights, we believe that meaningful reform to secure women’s rights cannot be brought about by enacting a single overarching Uniform Civil Code which will govern rights and obligations of diverse communities through a linear mode.

Religious and cultural diversity is a unique feature of India’s secular democracy. Within a culturally diverse and pluralistic society, group rights and community affiliations are important components of our social fabric. Uniform Civil Code will conflate this diversity and impose a uniformity which is divorced from our cultural and social reality.

Family laws and customs differ from community to community, region to region, across sects and castes, even among people following the same religion. While we agree that all personal laws are premised on a patriarchal ideology they are not static. As a nation we have continuously challenged patriarchal norms and strived to achieve gender justice by reforming personal laws from within. But this has been done through a gradual step by step approach and by adopting a multi-pronged response –

(i) through landmark rulings of the Supreme Court and High Courts (Shamin Ara (2002), Danial Latifi (2001), Geeta Hariharan etc)

(ii) by enacting specific laws applicable to women across religious divide (Domestic Violence Act, Juvenile Justice Act, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act etc.)

(iii) by enacting / amending statutes to address gender discrimination within personal laws (Hindu Code Bill, 1955, Amendment to the Indian Divorce Act, 2001, Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, the Muslim Women Protection of Rights Upon Divorce Act, 1986, reform within Parsee laws etc.)

(iv) by enacting the Special Marriage Act, 1954 which is an optional Uniform Civil Code and people across religious identities can opt to use it. These gradual changes over time have not created any major disruption within the diverse and yet composite social fabric of our country.

Women are confronted with several issues that serve to disempower them including - poverty, illiteracy, lack of health care and sanitation, unfulfilled needs of shelter, employment; concerns over women’s safety and security; death of infants due to malnutrition; increase in domestic and sexual violence, killing of girl children, demand for dowry, desertion of wives, lack of awareness of rights, inadequate legal aid and resources to access justice.

Instead of addressing these major implementation lapses and ensuring women are empowered and their rights are protected, the present government has launched a campaign for Uniform Civil Code making people believe it to be a ‘magic wand’ that will address all women’s problems of safety and security.

 It is important to place gender concerns within the rubric of secularism and minority rights, and not pose one against the other. Within a communally vitiated political environment the demand for UCC is seen as a stick to impose a majoritarian view and led to insecurity across minority communities and marginalized groups. Such focused targeting of minority communities leads them to respond in a conservative and regressive manner, which in turn further marginalizes women from the community and adversely impacts their rights.

To address discrimination against women, and practices that violate her dignity we need uniformity of rights brought about through ‘reform from within’ in a step by step approach, so that women can truly access these rights with the support of their community.

 In view of the above, we sincerely urge the Government to withdraw it's campaign for Uniform Civil Code.

(Please sign this petition as a response to Law Commission’s Questionnaire dated 7Th Oct 2016 on formulating a Uniform Civil Code)

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This petition had 506 supporters

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