The fundamentalist mindsets of religious structures and political groups have tried to quell the voices of resistance, voices that promote the rights of minorities and marginalised sections, especially of women, in order to keep them subjugated.
Aawaaz-e-Niswaan has conducted several awareness campaigns on political, economic, cultural and social issues, and on violations of human rights. We have held demonstrations and street-corner meetings, poster campaigns, exhibitions, and distributed leaflets – the content of which has included a range of concerns, from domestic violence, atrocities against minorities in different parts of the country, demands for the implementation of the Srikrishna Commission Report, to the moral policing and violence against couples in a park in Meerut, the dance bar ban, the attack on author Tasleema Nasreen.
Aawaaz-e-Niswaan believes that all attempts to curb and suppress the rights of individuals in society must be resisted, and has campaigned relentlessly to uphold the principles of social equality and justice. The Muslim Women’s Rights Network is an advocacy platform initiated by Aawaaz-e-Niswaan to campaign for the rights of Muslim women. We believe in the rights of women as equal citizens of the country and have consistently advocated for Gender Just Laws for women.
Awaaz-e-Niswaan has been one of the loudest voices in campaigning for the delegitimization of unilateral divorce or the practice of ‘Triple Talaq’ among the Muslim community in India. From filing public interest petitions in courts to mobilising minority voices, we have played a vital role in ensuring an end to this unjust practice, which enjoys impunity under Muslim Personal Law.
Despite our critique of the practice, we understand this to be a multifaceted issue that could, if dealt with callously, victimise an entire minority community. In 2017, the Lok Sabha or lower house of India’s Parlaiment, passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill criminalising the practice. The Bill, which purports in principle to protect Muslim women, was passed hurriedly and without consultation with women’s rights groups or other civil society stakeholders. The current provisions of the Bill confer on the majoritarian government in power the legal right to imprison men from the minority community without substantial cause – besides levying criminal consequences for what is, essentially, a civil issue. We have adopted multiple strategies including community meetings, press conferences, meetings with local leaders, and so on, in order to condemn these provisions.
Public Hearing on DEVELOPMENT
Aawaaz-e-Niswaan, in collaboration with other organisations, held a ‘Jan Sunwayi’ (Public Hearing) on 5 January, 2010. The objective of this hearing was to address various issues faced by residents of Mumbra. The town, which houses the largest Muslim ghetto in the country, suffers from improper sanitation, a poor sewage system, the lack of electricity and of clean drinking water. Through the hearing, we aimed to draw attention to all these issues, and devise solutions by involving various civil society stakeholders. At the Jan Sunwayi, we presented our photo-documentation of the pathetic conditions in Mumbra. The event was a resounding success, with many necessary development measures being undertaken in response to the pressure mounted by attendees at the hearing.
Public Hearing on SAFETY
Aawaaz-e-Niswaan, in collaboration with other organisations, held a Safety Audit Public Hearing at Mumbra. The purpose of this hearing was to get people’s representatives and administrative officials to listen to women’s concerns and take positive action. To gain an in-depth understanding of the most pressing issues in depth we had first had several community meetings, and conducted a survey with some 500 women and girl participants to learn about their circumstances and their experiences of lack of safety in their environments. Within 15 days of the hearing, the local Municipal Corporation sprung into action and began lighting identified streets. The new lights have created a sense of safety and relief among residents, especially among women and girls in the community.
Jan Sunwayi or Public Hearing organised by Aawaz-e-Niswaan have been successful in bringing out local development of citizen services.
Against Government move to bar counselling on DOMESTIC VIOLENCE by women’s organisations.
A major initiative was taken against a Government Regulation (GR) of the government that barred women’s organisations from holding counselling for women. The government had held that only court officers would be allowed to handle issues of mediation between different parties in cases of conflict, and no private parties would be allowed to carry out this task independently. This led to an uproar and a collective effort was made by numerous NGO’s and petition calling this order into question was filed in the High Court. These women’s organisations had argued that women often find it difficult to approach the courts let alone conduct any negotiations that would attend to their interests. It should be up to the effected women to decide who they want to approach tackling their issues, and not a decision made on their behalf by the government. Our organisation was a signatory and key campaigner on this issue and we were successful in our endeavour.