Abha Singh, a social activist and lawyer, who is practicing in the High Court of Judicature at Mumbai launched an Urdu version of her book in which she has been the co-author “Stree – Disha aur Dasha”, which focuses and highlights women empowerment and the judicial laws that are accessible for woman protection. The book launch event was held on 10th January 2018 at the Title Waves Book Store, Bandra. Many prestigious dignitaries like Waris Pathan (MLA), Majeed Memon (MP), Ms. Gul Panag (Actor, Entrepreneur, and Activist), Ms. Noorjehan Safia Naz (BMMA Co-convenor), Ms. Poonam Dhillon (VP BJP Mumbai and Actor) and Ms. Bhagyashree (Actor) attended the event.
Each of the prestigious dignitaries expressed their views on the importance of women empowerment at the book launch. Ms. Gul Panag spoke about how Patriarchy damages men equally as it is assumed that they alone bear the complete burden of running the house, but if women were empowered and emancipated, they too could share the burden with them. In an equal society, the burden of providing for the family lies with both, the man and the woman. She greatly appreciated Abha Singh for giving up her successful government job to pursue the “path less taken” in order to fight for women’s rights. She said that this encourages, empowers and emancipates so many other women to make the same choice that Abha Singh made to fight for the justice of women in our country.
Majeed Memon said that he personally feels that there should be no distinction between men and women as far as rights are concerned, which are guaranteed under the Constitution of India to all the citizens of our country. He talks about the concept of Right to Life and Personal Liberty which is mentioned in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. He says that according to the Supreme Court, the Right to Life does not refer to mere existence but it includes the right to live happily with a sense of dignity and respect. He says that unfortunately, there are too many laws and too little justice in our country. If there are any laws or customs that are clashing or contradictory to the law set in the Constitution, then all the lawyers should get together and work to solve this issue. The wronged women should stand up for themselves and fight for their rights. He said that women like Abha Singh are doing a great service for society by showing light to the less fortunate and educated women.
Ms. Noorjehan Safia Naz appreciated Abha Singh for publishing an Urdu version of her book so that it can be availed by a greater number of women, especially the Muslim women in rural areas. She then spoke about the lack of codified family law for the Muslim Society, due to which issues such as age for marriage, polygamy, and amount of Mahr are decided by the members of the family themselves. Therefore, the main fight for the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) was for the establishment of a codified family law that looked after the rights of the Muslim women just as it exists for the Hindu, Jain and Sikh women through their codified laws. She discussed how issues such as Halala and Triple Talaq negatively affect the Muslim womens lives and should be legally banned from being practiced.
Ms. Poonam Dhillon spoke about how the next generation has to be tutored by the current one as the mindset of people needs to change over a period of time. The treatment given to male and female children is very different and this mindset should change as soon as possible. Some of the old traditions and laws need to be rationalized as they are not valid in today’s time. As there is strength in unity, we should all voice our concerns in order to get justice for everyone. She also spoke about how the MeToo Movement has spread awareness among members of all fields about how people with privileged positions cannot wrongly use those working under them. It is the responsibility of those privileged people to protect those under them rather than abuse their position of power.
Ms. Bhagyashree spoke about how through her book, Abha Singh has given a light at the end of the tunnel for all women to hope and work towards. Women who are unaware of their rights can use this book to empower themselves, raise their voices and reach the appropriate people for the help that they require. She spoke about how the Constitution and all other laws were written with regard to the old customs and traditions and a lot of things have changed and altered in today’s time and therefore, many of these laws need to be fundamentally changed. People say that slowly with time, the women are getting empowered by giving them reservations in government jobs and educational institutions, but there is always a sword hanging over their heads as no one really knows whether they will be able to truly reach where they aspire to due to a lack in support system available to them. They not only need the support of their families but also that of the country and laws to be able to attain justice.
Waris Pathan said that woman empowerment is of utmost importance as a woman plays a very important role in our life. The Government must fulfil their demands by providing scholarships to ensure a better education for girls. As written in our Constitution, there should be equal rights available for men and women. While introducing the Triple Talaq bill, the government failed to consult the Muslim scholars and intellectuals which was a huge mistake. There should be equality for all people, irrespective of their race, caste, creed and religion. He congratulated Abha Singh for doing a commendable job with her book launch.