Lecture: "Women, Islam and the Law in India: The Question of Divorce"
Prof. Dr. Sylvia Vatuk (Professor Emerita, Anthropology, University of Illinois)
Each religious community in India is governed by a distinct code of family law, covering marriage, divorce, inheritance, child custody, and related matters. The system is a hold-over from the British colonial period, that ended with Indian independence in 1947. Since then, many have called for it to be replaced by a uniform family code that would apply to all citizens, regardless of religion, arguing that this is the only way to ensure gender equity before the law. They point—in particular—to gender discriminatory provisions in Muslim marriage and divorce law. Shortly after Independence the Indian Parliament re-wrote the then heavily gender-biased Hindu code, giving Hindu women—in most respects—equal rights with men in family matters. However, it took no steps toward revising the Muslim code either at that time or since. Neither has it taken active steps toward passage of a uniform family law code. This is mainly because of political considerations, namely, the strong resistance of the Muslim religious leadership and their followers to what they see as threats to the free exercise of their faith.
Vatuk's lecture will focus on questions of divorce in Indian Muslim law, discussing the differences between women’s and men’s rights in that regard and describing some relevant recent judicial decisions that have attempted to address one of these highly-controversial issues. She places them—and the public reactions to them—within the context of the present Indian political situation, with a government led by a right-wing Hindu-chauvinist Prime Minister who is much less cautious about the prospect of arousing Muslim disaffection than were any of his predecessors.
Time & Location
Feb 13, 2020 | 06:00 PM c.t. - 08:00 PM
Institute of Islamic Studies
Room 1.2052, near the elevator