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Married at 16, divorced at 18: Muslim girl battling triple talaq urges PM Modi to introduce uniform civil code
There are a few traditions in our country that have all but made a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage. Triple talaq as per Islam is one such tradition which allows a man to discontinue his relationship with his wife by writing `talaq' thrice on a piece of paper.

Recently an 18-year old Muslim girl from Pune who is battling triple talaq has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate steps to introduce uniform civil code to put a curb on such age-old traditions which have destroyed generations of Muslim women.

Arshiya was married off at the tender age of 16 to a rich vegetable trader, Mohammad Kazim Bagwan. Now, after two years of marriage, her husband has discontinued his relationship with her by writing `talaq' thrice on a piece of paper. Kazim said that he could not accept her as he had no place for her in his heart.

Arshiya, who hails from Baramati was asked to leave her husband's home along with her eight-month old baby. A distressed Arshiya has written to the Prime Minister asking him to take serious action against the custom which has ruined the lives of many Muslim women. She said, "I urge our PM to help women like me and stop this tradition of triple talaq which has destroyed lives of innumerable women."

As per a report published by TOI, Arshiya has refused to accept the triple talaq notice sent by her husband. She was quoted by TOI as saying, "I have decided to challenge it in family court."

She has also decided to continue with her education. She further said, "I was promised I will be allowed to continue my education after marriage, but the promise was not kept. I had completed my eleventh standard when I was married off. Now, I will start studying again and stand on my own."

Arshiya's father Nissar Bagwan said, "The government must take efforts to bring uniform code. No one must suffer like my daughter. I am a poor vegetable vendor and I made a blunder by marrying off my daughter and not allowing her to complete her education."

Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal, which has been fighting for the rights of Muslim women for decades has thrown its weight behind Arshiya. Mandal's president Shamshuddin Tamboli said, "Misinformation campaign against uniform civil code is being run by fundamental elements. Women are being told that they will not be able to eat non-vegetarian food and offer namaz once uniform civil code is in place. Muslim community is afraid because there is fear that the government will push its Hindutva agenda and uniform civil code will be saffron."

He has demanded that the government introduce a blue print of the new law based on secular premise and gender equality. He said, "PM and the government must not waste time and take concrete steps."

The founder of Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal, Hamid Dalwai had organised the first ever march of Muslim women to the Council Hall in Mumbai for demanding modifications in the law on 18th April, 1966. Since then, the Mandal has been championing the cause of rights for Muslim women.

Contrary to common belief, the concept of uniform civil code is not a brainchild of the ruling BJP government. In fact, UCC was proposed in the original Constitution of India. According to Article 44 of Part IV of the Directive Principles of State Policy, "The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India."

The UCC, a proposal of replacing personal laws based on traditions and practices of major religious communities with a uniform set of laws applicable on every citizen of India has been pending for decades now. Many civil rights groups have been demanding the imposition of UCC to lend a helping hand to those who have been victimised and denied their rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

However, India is a patriarchal society. All major religions in our country including Islam follow customs and traditions that are discriminatory towards women. Fanatical religious groups see UCC as tool for infringement of their right to practice and propagate their religion guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 29 and 30.

The ruling government has backed the imposition of UCC and said that any such practice that leaves women socially, financially and emotionally vulnerable is not in accordance of Articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution. Articles 15 and 15 guarantee the Right to Equality to women in India. Hence, the government of India has made it very clear to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) that Muslim women cannot be rendered vulnerable in comparison to women of other faiths because of their religion.

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