Braving Rains, Girl Students, Activists Protest in Delhi for Hadiya of Kerala
Ghazanfar Abbas, IndiaTomorrow.net,
New Delhi, Aug 31: Braving heavy downpour in the national capital on Thursday afternoon, around one hundred young women came out on the street demanding release of Kerala woman Hadiya who is confined at her parents’ home for about one year.
Girl students, feminists and civil rights activists held the protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar near the Parliament House.
Hadiya, Akhila before converting to Islam, is in virtual house arrest for about one year in Kerala. Marriage of Hadiya, 24, with a Muslim man has been nullified by the Kerala High Court even though she told the court that she converted and married out of her own choice. Her parents had alleged that she was forcibly converted to Islam and was to be recruited for terror group ISIS.
Two weeks back, the Supreme Court of India ordered the National Investigation Agency or NIA to probe the case.
Today’s protesters said that Hadiya is a matured woman and has full right to take any decision about her faith and life partner.
The protesters were emboldened with the recent historic judgment of the Supreme Court about right to privacy.
Maya John from Center for Struggling women (CSW) said that it is a matter of democratic rights and Supreme Court should promote the democratic functioning of the society.
“Supreme Court should promote the democratic functioning of the society. 24 years old Hadiya must be given the right to live with whom she married. This matter is not just a matter of right to privacy and religious practice; it is a matter of democracy too. If the people can’t take their own personnel decision, it is like to end the democracy. If such kinds of verdicts continue, the objective role of the judiciary will be ended.”
“On one hand, the Supreme Court says citizens have right to privacy, privacy is supreme and it is birthright. On the other, there is a woman who is told you don’t have right to take decision about your own life, who is told you will have to be kept in the custody of father first till your custody is transferred to some other man. Does it mean woman is not a human being and she has not right to privacy and right to life,” asked Sucheta De, national president of AISA.
“There is a Constitution in our country which gives right of equality to all citizens, both male and female. It is gender bias if you do not give woman her right to choose and decide about her life. We all stand with Hadiya,” said Sunita, a student of Delhi University.
Eminent feminist and secretary of AIPWA Kavita Krishnan was also present at the protest demonstration.
Questioning the Kerala High court’s judgment, Krishnan said, “The position that has been taken by Kerala High Court in this case is absolutely atrocious because it has actually said that an adult woman must be in the custody of her father. The Supreme Court’s position is also very bad because it has ordered an NIA probe into an interfaith marriage. A Hindu woman converting to Islam and married to a Muslim is not an act of terrorism. The right to privacy judgment not just covers right to religion and conversion, it also covers the right to marry, not marry, to free for an adult woman.”
“Does the Right to Privacy not cover adult Indian women,” she asked.
“Hadiya should be freed and NIA probe should be scrapped immediately. Hadiya should be heard by the court and her decision should be upheld by the court,” Krishnan demanded.
“Why is an adult woman imprisoned in the 'home' she had run away from, with no access to phone or internet, with no visitors allowed, and with policemen outside the house? Why have the courts refused to acknowledge the wilful conversion of a Hindu woman to Islam, and condemned her as not being “capable of taking a firm and independent decision on her own”, asked the organizers of the protest.
Representatives from various youth organizations also addressed the gathering standing firm on the ground despite the heavy rain. They included Muhammad Shihad, Nihad and Ahdas from Fraternity Movement, Rizwana Nusrath from Girls Islamic Organisation and Waseem RS from JNU unit of Students Islamic Organisation of India.
The call for ‘Free Hadiya’ protest was given by several groups including All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA), Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), SIO, GIO, Fraternity Movement, Centre for Struggling Women (CSW), Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students Organisation (BASO), Krantikari Yuya Sangathan (KYS), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Andolan (RDMA), All India Students Association (AISA), Krantikari Yuya Sangathan (KYS), Pinjra Tod , Dayar i shauq students charter (DISSC)-Jamia, Democratic Students Union, Youth Forum for Discussions & Welfare Activities (YFDA)-JNU and Students Federation of India (SFI).