So, I’ve been trying to read Nivedita Menon’s Seeing Like A Feminist.
However, one paragraph of the book I wish I could just un-see.
On the Uniform Civil Code, she writes:
“Shah Bano’s own trajectory, the Supreme Court judgement and the subsequent legislation overturning the judgement all mark the beginning of re-thinking by the women’s movement on the UCC, which was now revealed in it’s implicit anti-minority cast and its legitimising of the national integrity argument.”
“This disavowal of uniformity by the women’s movement in the 1990s is significant in that it marks the need to rethink the nation and religious communities as homogenous entities. Each religious community is a heterogenous one, and ‘Hindu’ ,’Muslim’ and ‘Christian’ practices differ widely from region to region of India, from sect to sect.
Some of these practices are better than others for women, and making them all uniform is not a solution to gender-based injustice. It is not a viable option-what is the uniform standard that will be adopted?”
“Was Shah Bano a ‘woman’ or a ‘Muslim’ ? Thus even an apparently obvious feminist issue such as gender-discriminatory personal laws, must be placed within other contexts to be understood in all complexity”
I’m sorry but as an Indian woman I vehemently reject this argument. I am a ‘woman’ and a ‘Hindu/Muslim/Christian’ yes, but I am also a free citizen of India first.
That we have laws against domestic violence and dowry are testament to the fact that India does have the legal will required to protect women despite the general endorsement of the former and latter by religious scriptures, culture and tradition. They are universally applied to all women, irrespective of the tenets of her religion.
That’s why I cannot understand why a ‘feminist’ would want to distance herself from a universally applicable personal law. Cutting through the BS , the distancing is actually code for I-would-rather-sacrifice-Indian-women-at-the-altar-of political-correctness-than-be-called-a-member-of-the-Hindu-right.
Honestly, Indian women deserve better than this brand of ‘feminism’.
As an Indian woman of *irrelevant religion* I demand that personal law SHOULD NOT ‘be placed within other contexts to be understood in all complexity’. I demand that you keep my religion out of it irrespective of what prominent ‘feminists’ who pretend to speak for me say.
I only demand that these new personal laws are fair to women, and yes, fucking universal.