Muslim Women and Gender Justice in India: An Analysis of Muslim Women Act of 1986

Asima Sahu


Indian Muslim women are subject to the interface between gender and community within the Indian social, political and economic context.  Stereotypes of Muslim Women, entrenched by the trinity of multiple marriages, triple talaq and Purdah have held them hostage for so long that they have become difficult to dislodge. The path-breaking decision of the Supreme Court upholding the constitutional validity of the controversial Muslim Women’s Act is an interesting study of the issue of gender justice. The present article would try to locate crucial issue relating to divorce and maintenance (i.e. Muslim Women’s Act 1986) that need to be foregrounded to galvanise Muslim Women’s struggle for justice and equality and discuss various possibilities as well as hurdles in the path of evolving alternative discourses. Women had to fight every inch of the way due to the ambiguities caused by callous drafting. The Act provided ample scope to husbands to exploit the situation which led to protracted litigation beneficial to husbands and a nightmare to women. But women withstood the ordeal with courage and determination, with patience and perseverance. After a decade and a half, the end result of this persistent struggle are clearly visible. The positive interpretations have ushered new era of protection of rights within the established principal of Muslim law, but still many changes in MPL is yet to come. Now is the right time for Muslim intelligentsia to come up to campaign for their womenfolk of their basic right to survival.


Muslim Women, Gender Justice, Muslim Women Act, Muslim Personal Law,Uniform Civil Code

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