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Feasibility of a Carbon Consumption Tax for sustainable development – A case study of India
Feasibility of a Carbon Consumption Tax for sustainable development – A case study of India

Global climate change is a major issue confronting policymakers worldwide, and there is widespread scientific acceptance of the reality of climate change and its adverse consequences In terms of economic analysis, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), which cause planetary climate changes, represent both an environmental externality and the overuse of a common property resource. The paper is premised around the hypothesis that tax policy can be used to address climate concerns by making less Green House Gas intensive purchases and investments more financially attractive. However, in the absence of an international framework capping GHG emissions, countries adopting mitigation policies incur costs that would not exist under global cooperation such as the loss of competitiveness and emissions leakage. A consumption tax based on the carbon footprint of a product levied on all products at the point of purchase by the final end-user, regardless of where the goods are produced using a Credit-method would be capable of addressing these concerns of emissions leakage and loss of competitiveness, while being WTO compliant. The author intends to test the feasibility and effectiveness of such a carbon consumption tax in the Indian Context. The author shall test the feasibility of levy of such a consumption tax in the context of India and evaluate the effectiveness in mitigating climate change and catering to the goal of sustainable development. JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY URBAN AFFAIRS (2017) 1(3), 18-23. https://doi.org/10.25034/ijcua.2018.3674

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Status of Muslim Women in India: A Case Study of Kerala

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STATUS OF MUSLIM WOMEN IN INDIA A Case Study of Kerala

M. INDU MENON

a

UPPAL PUBLISHING HOUSE NEW DELHI

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UPPAL 3,

PUBLISHING

Ansari

8, Yashwant

Road,

Plaee,

Waryaganj,

Chanakyapuri,,

HOUSE

New

Delhi-110002

New Delhi-110021

-

ALD ho way RY? 5a yas} ‘Indian Council of Social Science Research gave financial support

towards the publication of this work. However, the responsibility

for

‘etc,

the

contents

of

the

©

M. INDU

is entirely that of the

book-facts,

authors

and

opinions,

not

conclusion,

of the

MENON

First published 1981

PRINTED IN INDIA Published by B.S. UPPAL, UPPAL PUBLISHING HOUSE, New Delhi-110002 and Printed at Latika

Printers,

116, Maujpur,

Google

Shahdara,

Delhi-110053

ICSSR.

MY PARENTS

Digitized byGoogle

Original from

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

Digitized byGoogle

Original from

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

PREFACE This book is a slightly modified version of my doctoral -dissertation entitled “Education and Social Status of Muslim Women in Kerala”

1976.

The

theme

submitted

to

of social status

comparativelya neglected

field

the

of

University

Muslim

of study

in

of

Women Indian

Kerala in

has been

Sociology.

Muslims constitute eleven per cent of India’s population and half

-of them are women.

In spite of the fact that the Government

of India and the state governments are particularly anxious to raise the status of Muslim Women, no systematic effort has been

made

so far to find out the factors behind their low status.

-a result,

As

very little is known about the social dynamics of status

improvement among an important segment of the Indian Society. This study purports to examine the socio-cultural aspects of

‘the status of Muslim Women

in

India

with special reference to

the Kerala situation. As education is a critical factor in the process of modernization, the problem has been studied from

the vantage point of education.

The

study

was

conducted

in

the four districts of Kerala viz. Calicut, Malappuram, Palghat and Cannanore which account for two-thirds of the Muslim population in the State.

In the successful completion of this work, I have received support and guidance from many people. I am grateful to Professor P.K.B. Nayar, my research supervisor, for the encouragement and inspiring guidance provided.

My

thanks

to Dr. R. Krishna

Pillai,

Dr. (Miss) Aleyamma

George and Shri Rajasekharan Nair of the Department of ‘Statistics, University of Kerala for the help rendered in the

analysis of data. Special thanks

are

due

to Dr. (Mrs.) Mercy Moraes of the

Department of Education, University of Kerala for her valuable ‘suggestions on an earlier draft of the manuscript.

Google

(viii) Tam also thankful to my colleagues at the Department of Sociology, University of Kerala for their assistance at various stages of this study. T owe a special

University

debt of gratitude

to

Professor M.S.A.

Rao,

of Delhi for patiently going through the thesis and

giving valuable suggestions for its improvement. I am deeply indebted to the respondents for their whole hearted co-operation in many ways during the course of my

field work.

Tam also grateful

to

the

Indian

Council of Social

Science

Reasearch and the University Grants Commission for providing

me with fellowships during the period of my Thanks are due to the ICSSR for providing me

tion grant for this study.

doctoral study. with a publica-

M. INDU

Google

MENON

CONTENTS Page

‘CHAPTERS VIL

PREFACE INTRODUCTION

The

problem-women

of women

society—status

and

in Islamic societies—status

in India—education muslim women muslim women in Kerala.

of

of 27

METHODOLOGY

study—statement of the

Objectives of the

of problem—hypotheses—sample—tools data collection —data collection--analysis of data.

RESEARCH

35

SETTING

EDUCATIONAL

39

BACKGROUND

of education—age influencing Factors entry to school—objectives of education—

termination

of

education—education

children—education

as

a

status

factor—co-education—religious —conclusion.

MARRIAGE AND

of

raising

education

FAMILY

Age at marriage—arrangement of marriage—polygamy—dowry system—mehr or dower—divorce—widow remarriage— type of family—position of women in the family—decision making—treatment of children—family planning—conclusion.

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63

@)

ECONOMIC AND OCCUPATIONAL BACKGROUND

91

Economic position—property _rights— occupational position—conclusion.

POLITICAL AND SOCIAL BACKGROUND Women and —freedom of

103.

politics—voting behaviour movement—veiling—leisure

time activities—conclusion.

ATTITUDE AND BEHAVIOUR OF MEN RESPONDENTS On education—on

marriage—on

on occupation—on social activities—conclusion.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS IMPLICATIONS

and

121

family—

cultural

AND 131

BIBLIOGRAPHY

143

INDEX

159

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LIST OF Table

1.

PIA

sy

2.

TABLES

Education and Age of the Respondents

Respondents’ Education and their Fathers’ Education

Respondents’ Education and Mothers’ Education Respondents’ Education and their Husbands’ Education Respondents’ Fathers’ and Mothers’ Education Level of Education and Objective of Education

Education and Gain from Education Education and Attitude towards Education as a Factor in Raising Social Status

Education and Attitude towards Co-Education 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17, 18. 19. 20. 21.

Education and Duration of Religious Education

Education and Age at First!Marriage Present Age and Age at First Marriage

Education and Attitude towards Early Marriage

Education and Arrangement of Marriage

Education and Attitude towards Dowry Education and Role in Decision-making Concerning Childrens’ Schooling, Career and Marriage Education and Role in Decision-making Concerning Family-Budget, Buying Property, Clothes and

Page:

42

43 44 45 46 48 50 55 56. 58. 65 66. 67 69 73 82.

Articles

83.

Size

86. 87

Education and Attitude Towards Limiting Family

Education and Practice of Birth-Control Methods Ownership of Personal Property and Consultation

By Husbands in Making Decisions Regarding

Children’s Schooling, Career and Marriage

Ownership of Personal Property and Consultation

94

by Husbands in Making Decision Regarding

Family Budget, Buying Property, Clothes and House-

hold Articles

Google

95

(xii) 22. 23. 24. 25. 26.

Education and Attitude Towards Considering

as The Sole Bread-winner Education and Attitude Towards Economic Independence as giving Women Higher Status Education and Attitude Towards Politics as a

100

29. 30.

Education and Newspaper Reading Habits

Home

104

105

and Casting of Vote in the Last

and Preference for the Candidate and Awareness of the Programmes of Contesting for Election and Freedom of Movement Outside

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Page 98

Legitimate Field of Activity for Women Education and Approval of Women Actively Participating in Politics

Education Election Education Education Candidates Education

27. 28.

Man



108 lll 112 115 117

Introduction

A major index of modernization of any society is the position of its women vis-a-vis men. The more balanced the opportunity structure for men and women, the larger the role women have in society and consequently the higher their status.

ing society such as that of India,

it is essential

In a develop-

that both men

and women play equal and important role in the development effort. Improvement in the traditional status of women, there-

fore, is a necassary first step in this programme. Accordingly, the Government have adopted a series of measures to enable women to improve their position in society. A critical factor in the improvement of the status of women

is education

which

is indispensable

for

playing

many of the

modern roles. Education not only equips women with the knowledge and expertise necessary for playing many modern roles and thereby enables them to rise in status, it also widens. their cognitive map and enables them to compare their position

in society vis-a-vis men. Accordingly, education has formed a key element in Government of India’s programmes for the improvement of the status of

women.

The

Government have

also realized that education is basic to the availing of many of their social welfare programmes and the

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enjoyment of many of

2.

Status of Muslim

Women in India

thé measures of social legislation passed since Independence. Government have therefore initiated large scale educational programmes in the country, with special focus on the weaker

sections of the people. None-the-lesss Muslim women in India have lagged behind in educational attainment and consequently in the process of modernization compared to women in other communities. It is true

that the Indian Muslims themselves are backward

compared to

other communities but while their men have been able

to enjoy

a fair share of the benefits accruing from the nation’s development effort, their women have not been able todoso. It is therefore reasonable to assume

that there may be

some social-

structural and institutional factors which inhibit women from availing of education and through it the utilisation of existing facilities to their maximum advantage. It will be useful to identify these factors in order to have a full view of the magnitude of the problem of raising the status of Muslim

women.

The Problem The purpose of the study

is to

examine the

role of education

in raising the status of Muslim women in Kerala.

Since women

in the Muslim community are subordinated to men to a greater

extent than women in some other communities, it is pertinent to examine whether the process of modernization attempted

in India

since

Independence

has

made

any

impact

on

the

traditionally ascribed status of the Muslim women in India. As

education is a critical element in the modernization process, the

problem may be examined from the vantage point of education.

The study attemts to examine the share of education in raising the status of Muslim women in Kerala and to identify those socio-cultural and institutional factors in the Muslim community which impinge upon the many benefits which could come from education. Such a study may be quite useful in increa-

sing our

present knowlege

about

the

social

dynamics of the

Indian Muslims and in giving useful insights to planners and policy makers engaged in raising the status of women in India.

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Intoduction

3

Women and Society There is a widespread view among scholars that the best way to judge a nation’s progress is to find out the status of women

there.

Indeed many writers have

the types of treatment

meted

equated

cultural

out to women

levels with

and have

found

that there is a strong correlation between low status of women and low cultural levels of society. (Majumdar, 1961 : 251). This is tersely summed up by Pratima Asthana (1974 : 1) when

she says, the position of women in a society is the true index of its cultural and spiritual attainments. Since the origin of society

women have formed an integral part of the social structure. “Her role in the various walks of life has contributed to the

evolution of value which have counted for what may be described, all round progress. Her status is the measuring rod in assessing the standard of culture of any age.” (Sankar Sengupta,

1970:6).

If we want to study the status of women

in any

society,

we

must study the complexity of roles which women perform in society in the socio-economic, cultural, religious and political fields. It is also important to find out such factors as how

they face the problems and situations that are connected with their sex roles from birth to death and how they adjust them-

selves to these role situations.

The role of women has differed from society to society and from time to time. Within one society itself. it has changed

over-time.

Students of culture are familiar with several societies

where women had a higher status than men and several others where women enjoyed status equal to men. However, the model pattern has been for societies where women had inferior status. If we examine societies where women had higher status, we

will find that this higher

status was because of

the important

roles that women performed. In these societies women had complete, or at least major, control over the economic activity. Edward Westermack, in his article, ‘The Position of women in Early Civilization’ (1904 : 408) observes that “the position of women is exceptionally good in tribes that live upon fish and Toots, which the women procure with a degree of expertness equal to that of the men, whereas it was among tribes that live

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4

Status of Muslim

Women in India

by the chase or by other means in which women can be of little

service, that we find the sex most oppressed. Again, women among hunters and pastoral tribes had low status but among the agricultural peoples, the position of female is generally higher.” There was a period in Indian history when women were accorded equal status with men. In the Vedic age, women enjoyed a

high position in society. They had full freedom for spirituat pursuits and intellectual development (Pratima Asthana, 1974:1). Though sons were referred, once born, the daughter was given all the privileges enjoyed by the son. In the case of education, a daughter was not discriminated from theson. There were many women who became vedic scholars, debators, poets and

teachers. Thc nature and form of property during that period are still not quite clear, though stray reference to gifts given to wife are made and also the right of a brotherless daughter to property is established by Yaskacharya in Nirukta (Neera Desai, 1957:11). Women were married at a mature age and were given full freedom in the choice of their husbands. They were to attend public gatherings. According to S. R. Shastri, (1960:20)

a wife in the Vedic age was the husband’s companion in weal and woe, mistress of the household and partner in all his activities—temporal and spiritual. Women during this age actively participated in agriculture and co-operated with men in the manufacture of bows-arrows and other articles of public utility. In the religious field also women were given significant position.

A. S. Altekar (1956:235-35) is of the opinion that in the matter of religious life, which was all important and very absorbing aspect of thie daily life of the people during this period, we are

definitely informed that women actively participated in it. There were

many

important

special sacrifices

yagas

performed by

performed during

the

women.

vedic

and

In many

post-vedic

period, the lady of the house not only participated but she formed an important and indispensable part of the ceremony. Widow remarriage was allowed during this period. Thus, alto-

gather we find that women in the vadic age enjoyed equal if not. higher status. It is important to note that the

inferior

societies also coincided with the denial

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status

of property

of

women in

rights

and

Introduction

5

education, as well as denial of certain occupations to them. If one closely analyses the structure of societies where women are subordinated to men, one can find several factors which keep women in a subordinated position—right to inherit property, choice of husband, punishment for nonfidelity to spouse, law against polyandry, ban on widow remarriage, denial of education and occupation, practice of sati, seclusion, etc. The structure of the Puranic Hindu> society will make this clear. This was a period of increasing subjection of women. Women were considered as the slaves of their husbands. Child marriage was very common and the previous practice of widow remarriage was prohibted. Girl’s education tended to be nil. Neera Desai observes that “the religious life of women was restricted to the

observance

of

some

vratas

which

more

or

less demanded

Dlind faith from her” (1957:21). Polygamy and the practice of Sati were also prevalent which resulted in subjugation and deterioration in the position of women. The position of women in western countries in the ancient

period also was one of subordination to men.

In the Greek city

states, women were treated as an object of beauty to be confined to the home. According to Lowes Dickinson (1947:176-177), woman in fact was regarded as a means, not as an end and was

treated in a manner consonant with this view. the wife

drudge.

in ancient

Greece was

simply

that

The position of

of the

domestic

To stay at home and mind the house was her recogni-

zed role. Sparta was the only exception. There, women played equal role with men not only in the arts of peace but also in the sinews of war, though they were especially trained for maternity. However, sparten influence on Greek society was negli-

gible.

In the Roman empire also women’s status was

inferior.

We do not find reference to any event where women played a significant role. Marg R. Beard (1946:24) points out that “from

the time of the cave men until the

fall of Rome

the

Brand of

ignorance and inferiority had been stamped on women. Unintentionaly perhaps, or limited by the concept of formal education, she gave the net impression that for thousands of years women had neither received nor achieved an education, as if their intellectual life apart from the household affairs had been close to or actually at zero.’’

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6

Status of Muslim

Women in India

Throughout the Middle ages and a major part of early modern

period, Europe continued to be dominated by men. It was only after the coming of industrialization that this set up (women being given a status inferior to men) began to change. The increasing accent on division of labour called for skills of diffeTent types, some of which could be effectively handled only by

women. Urbanization encouraged

the rise of nuclear families

and the economic self-sufficiency of the nuclear family. In many

cases women were compelled to take up jobs to supplement the

family income.

Education became

many of the modern roles.

a prerequisite for

In turn education

playing

also awakened

women to a sense of their own self-importance and this encouraged them to assert many of the rights which were denied to them. At the same time the increasing importance of their roles raised their status in society. Status of Women in Islamic (4)

Societies

Women and Islam

As Islam had its roots and beginnings in the tribal society of the

Arabs, it is necessary to find out the position of women in Arabia, the birth place of Islam, just before the rise of Islam. As the Arab society was almost a tribal one, it did not recog-

nize the individual.

Woman

had no recognized

place

in

the

pre-Islamic Arabic society. As Venkatarayappa (1966:45) says, “the women of Arabia were in a state of subjection either to their nearest male kinsman or the father, brother, son or husband, whose rights over them were regarded as their rights over

any other property.”

The birth of a daughter was

usually

looked

down

the Arabs, asa calamity and disgrace to the family.

Tesult of this, the custom of

female

infanticide

was

upon by

As a

prevalent

there. Even when a girl was allowed to live, she was forced to be married at an early age of 7 or 8. At the back of this cus-

tom

was

the

fear

of parents

that

their

daughters

might

be

dishonoured if they were not given in marriage before attaining puberty. Marriage by capture,

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purchase

and

contract

existed among

Introduction

7

the Arabs at that time. Polygamy was both popular and common

among them. As to the number of wives that an Arab could keep, there appears to have been no laws or convention. A

wife was looked upon as a kind of chattel. A wife could be even

lent to a guest

as a amark of hospitality,

was well known. The next point of inequality

for which

is related

to

the

divorce.

Arab

In the

pre-Islamic Arab society, the husband was free to divorce his wife whenever he felt doing so. There was no reciprocal right

for the wife.

There are contradicting views about

the

property

rights of

women among the Arabs. While some hold that women enjoyed property rights before the advent of Islam,

others.

According to the latter,

this is disputed by

women at that

time

did not

have any property rights since they themselves were looked upon as property. This is strengthened by the fact that women

among the pre-Muslim

Arabs

were included

inherited and on father’s death, mother (Shushtery, 1938 : 673).

attitude to and

property.

treatment

It is thus generally believed

of

in the property

ason could marry his step All these reveal the Arab’s

women

that the

as

mere

women

in

chattel

or

pre-Islamic

society were given an inferior position and they were treated as mere property. But Islam improved their position in many areas. The reforms instituted by Mohammed effected a vast and marked improvement in the position of women. Islam improved the status of women by restricting polygamy to four wives, by prohibiting female infanticide, by assigning a share of inheritance to women, by declaring mehr asa gift to the bride, and by reorienting the Arab law of marriage and divorce in favour of women. More specifically, Islam contributed to the status improvement of women

in the following ways:

stressing the need

to respect

and to give

divorce on certain

grounds,

(4) by allowing

(1) By

good treatment to a

foster mother, (2) by making woman the mistress of her own property in which the husband had no right to interfere except with her permission, (3) by giving her the right of claiming

her to

hold any

public office, including that of the head of an empire or minister or judge, (5) by giving her freedom to remarry after

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8

Status of Muslim

Women in India

divorce, and (6) by encouraging her to study and acquire knowledge (Shushtery. 1938 : 674).

Islamic writers

point

to the principles

of The Quran

and

Sunnah and other religious books as evidence that woman is not badly treated by Islam. Muhammed Qutb (1964; 183) is

of the opinion that, ‘as a fundamental principle of its system, Islam holds that woman is a human being and she has a soul

similar to that of men. Thus, men and women were quite equal to each other in their origin, their abode as well as in their place of return and were as such entitled to similar and equal rights. Islam give her the right to life, to honour, and to property, like men’ (See also Muhammed, 1936 : 630-715).

With regard to marriage, no age limit has been fixed by Islam

for the marriage of girls, and it seems that quite young children may be legally married. This seems to be a relic of pre-Islamic Arab Society. Chastity is very scrupulously safeguarded. From the provisions of the Ouran, it follows that for women a plurality of husbands is impossible and that for them monogamy was always the rule. At the same time Islam permitted polygamy but restricted the number of contemporaneous views to four. The Quranic passage runs thus : “you may marry two, three or four wives, but not more”. However, it warns men that “if you cannot deal equitably and justly with all, you shall marry only one” (Ameer Ali, 1922 : 229). Thus, we find that the essential emphasis of the Quran is for justice to

women.

The Quran confers on the husband the pre-Islamic right to divorce his wife without assigning any cause and even without

any

misbehaviour

on

her

part.

moderation on the part of men.

But Mohammed counselled

He also

conceded to women

the right of obtaining a separation on reasonable grounds. The following procedure was prescribed for divorce. ‘‘When you -divorce

women,

divorce

them

for their

prescribed

time and

-calculate the number of days prescribed and be careful of (your duty to) God, your Lord. Do not drive them out of their houses, nor should

they themselves go

forth,

unless they

commit an open indecency”. (George Sale : “n.d” 560). According to the principles of Islam, when widowed or divorced, a woman is at liberty to marry again. The only

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Introduction

9

restraint is that they have to wait for a period of three menstu-

tal periods. There is no period of waiting ie. one who is not divorced or widowed.

for a free woman,

The prophet promoted specific legislations in woman’s favour in varius domestic situations. The law gave considerable rights to free women. As Muslims they had to fulfil the

same obligations to pay to

the

and this mehr recognized

as men.

bride

becomes

as its

It was

before

heir

obligatory

marriage

what

on the husband

was

called

mehr

the property of the woman and she is

at law.

The

obtain a divorce by agreeing to forego

wife could,

if she liked,

the mehr.

If a woman

was widowed she could remarry; the obligation on the family to find a husband for her was as great as the obligation to marry unmarried girls. ‘Muslim law makes divorce a financial burden for the husband for he has to provide in strictly prescribed measure, ai least for a limited time, for the support of his former wife.” (Ilse Lichtenstadter, ‘‘n.d” : 128). About inheritance, Islam says, “to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females’. According to Mohammed Qutb (1964 : 183) this is quite natural and justifiable for it is the man alone who is charged with shouldering all the financial obligations. She can hold property in her own name and can dispose it of at her own will. The Quran cautions : “And do not covet that by which God has made some of you excel others; men shall have the benefit of what they earn and women shall have the benefit of what they earn.” (George Sale “n.d” : 85) Regarding education, it is said by Quranic authorities that

Islam stood for making

education compulsory

and

universal.

“Tt is prescribed in Islam that every Muslim, man and woman, must receive education and must go to the farthest corner of the globe to acquire knowledge.” (Humayun Kabir. 1964 : 8).

Despite this,

it so happened

that

the

Muslim

community

is

perhaps the most educationally backward at present and so far as women are concerned it seems that the Quranic principles and orders have been completely neglected. In Islam, paradise, was promised to a believing woman as it

was to a believing man. According to an early tradition, Mohammed was not against allowing women to pray in public. As Muhammed

Ali points out

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(1936:390-91), a number

of hadith

10

Status of Muslim Women in India

afford overwhelming evidence of the fact that women, just im the same way as men, used to frequent the mosques and that

there was not the least restriction in this matter.

He continues,.

there are other hadith which show that the Holy Prophet had’ given orders not to prohibit women from going to Mosque. He makes it clear by quoting from a hadith : “Do not prohibit the handmaids of Allah from going to the Mosques of Allah.”

But there is another view that Mohammed visiting mosque.

was

against women

The author of a widely used work on religious.

instruction for women quotes

Mohammed as having

said that

“best mosque for women is their own house”, and adds. by way of comment, this shows that women are not to go out of their house even for prayers, much less for anything else(Bewan Jones, 1941:250).

With regard to segregation and veiling, Ilse Lichtenstandter (“‘n.d’’:123) is of the opinion that it developed out of Quranic pronouncement, though the

form which

was in no way demanded by the

Quran.

it gradually

In the

assumed

Quran segre--

gation was used to refer to a “partition” dividing the house, never to a “veil”. Women are enjoined by the prophet to behave modestly and not to flaunt their beauty. Among almost every people upon whom Islam has left its. imprint there exists a conspicuous concern for feminine modesty both of dress and demeanour. With but few exceptions, most

Muslim

women

of the world are

expected to

avoid wearing

scanty apparel and to limit their public activities. In someIslamic region, a woman of good characteris but seldom seen beyond the portals of her home and in many areas women appear in lanes and streets only as silent veiled figures (Jacobson : 1976:

170).

There are differences of opinion regarding Quaranic treatment

of women.

Writers like Muhammed Qutub

are of the opinion

that Islam gives equal status to men and women. Ameer Ali beli-

eves that “he (the prophet) placed them (women) on a footing of perfect equality with men in the exercise of legal powers and func— tions”. Maulana Mohammed Ali, quoting

extensively

Quran, the Sunnah and the Prophet’s dialogue with

from

the

colleagues

and friends, argues that women were accorded the best treatment by Islam compared to any other world religion. But Sir Syed.

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Introduction

11

has pointed out that while Islam has given equal Status in law and religion to men and women, the position of Muslim women is in fact miserable. According to Sir William Muir, the position fixed by Muhammed for women is that of an infererior creature destined only for the service of her lord, liable to be cast off

without the notice of a single hour (quoted

by

K.M. Kapadia,

1958:200). It can be said that though Islam has treated women nicely, it has not given her equal status with men. In viewing the male and female roles, Islam ascribes a superior status to the former. “It is foolish to claim equality for her in spheres.

for which she is not created.

Men stand superior to women in

that God hath preferred the one over the other....” (Reuben Levy, 1967:98). Islamic orders regarding seclusion of women,

men’s right to divorce, to practice polygamy and other provisions make many believe that the position of women under Tslam is inferior. At every stage Muslim Law is fettered with

inequalities, with

the woman

(Bhatty: 1976; 102-104)

in

every case

being

less

equal

However, we can say that though Islam has net given men and women equal status, it treats women with respect and honour. Unfortunately, in actual practice, the tenvlency seems

to be to overlook or misinterpret the principles and orders of the Quran and consequently to accord to her an inferior status. M. Mujeeb (1972:91) observes that actual practice was based on the custom of the family, which was the custom of the community or the professional group to which the family belonged rather than on religion. The Muslim family was a re-creation of the Arab family

with in the ethical confines of Islam. It seems that the ethical premises relating to women’s position in society, and especially

her rights and privileges, never appealed to the Muslim male who was determined to exercise his undisputed authority in the family and so his dominance over family members. The preoccupation of the disciples of Mohanmmed with conquest and conversion left them with little time to reflect on the family norms. and even if they had time, it was impossible for them to change

long established family mores of a predominantly

tribal people

except by compromising on expansionist programmes.

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12

Status of Muslim

Women in India

We may now examine the position of women in present day Muslim societies. {b)

Women

in Islamic Countries

‘We shall first deal with the Arab women, particularaly those in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. These five countries

constitute the most homogeneous group within the larger world

of the Arabs, Islam or the Near East (Morroe Berger, 1962:23). As a result of their education, the Arab women have advanced and more or less emancipated and are moving towards equality in every sphere of life. Manorama Dewan (1961:31) points out

that “there is quite a big number of Arab women who take up a profession before and after marriage in order to have an independent living and financial security.

In

U.A.R.,

Iraq

and

Lebanon the number of working women is steadily increasing. In U.A.R. and Lebanon there are a number of women holding important jobs as directors of big commercial concerns

and there are a number of women journalists.” On the political front also women are playing significant role,

though only very recently women got the right to vote. Iraq had the first woman minister and in Labanon one finds a large number of women participating in the political activities of the country.

Jn the Arab world also, as in through the males and father is

the West, descent is reckoned the head of the family who

enjoys great authority. In the opinion of Morroe Berger, (1962:131) the Arab family is still an extended one, though the urban younger educated section of the population prefers nuclear family.

The most profound changes in the Arab family are the result of the emancipation of women through education and their growing freedom to move outside the home. (Morroe Berger, 1962:145). A higher proportion of the younger women are now literate and their average number of year of schooling is greater. The educated young men and women are enjoying greater free‘dom in the choice of their marriage partners. In Arab countries a strong women’s movement is developing, asserting women’s

tights and

demanding

justice

Google

and

equality

in

all spheres of

Introduction governmental Dewan,

and

non-governmental

1961:31)

According to Berger

(1962:117-118)

activities

13

(Manorama

“although the

relations

between men and women in the Arab world are changing every day, they are still governed, especially in the less sophisticated social classes and places, by old strict codes of ‘meeting, mating and the creation of new families”. The Arab society places highest value on permarital chastity and moral fidelity of women. Young men and women are not free to mingle with one another

and to select their spouses. In this context Morroe Berger (1962:119) observes that the high value placed upon female

chastity before marriage and fidelity in it is enforced by largely confining women after puberty to their own company. It may be pointed out that in Egypt co-education is permitted only at the university level. In Turkey the advanced position of women is fully accepted as areality. Here education of girls showed marked growth from

1923 to 1933 under

the

new

Republic.

Ruth Francer Wood-

small (1960:12) points out that of the total enrolment of 31,000

students in Turkish universities in the later 1950’s, one-sixth or slightly over five thousand were women.

Turkish women actively participate in the economic life of the

country.

Woodsmall (1960:22) points out that

“today because

of their increasing numbers, the diversification of their activities, and the impressive achievment of the individuals, women in» Professions in Turkey are playing an increasingly important role

in the life of the nation.” Women in rural areas contribute significantly to the agricultural operations. In 1933 equal suffrage was granted to the Turkish women. They enjoyed full political right from 1935, when the Turkish Parliament recognized their full political equality. There is no legal obstacle of inequality standing in the way of their participation

in the political field. The Swiss Code was introduced in Turkey in 1926 and this established social equality with respect to polygamy,

divorce, guardianship, etc.

Yet polygamy

has not

completely,

disappeared from Turkey. In rural areas it is still practised. ‘Veiling’ is even now common in Turkey. According to Wood-

small (1960:32) ‘“Imams are now bringing pressure on women to Tesume it, appealing to superstition and ignorance by asserting

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14

Status of Muslim

Women in India

that the veil is necessary to ensure entrance to paradise.” Religious education is considred by these people as an urgent need in Turkey.

Tn Iran also there is marked advance of women as a result of the educational progress that has been taking place fora number of years. The compulsory unveiling of women decreed in 1935’ marked a change from the traditional seclusion of Tranian women. Women in Iran are free to move about in the streets, public gatherings and other places without wearing a veil. But though Iranian women are educated and free to move about, there are cartain traditional customs which prevent them from achieving equal status with men. According to Woodsmall (1960:51) while the new climate of freedom has had its effect on

the whole context of life in widening the activities and interests of women, certain traditional restrictive social customs and legal inequalities, always adverse to

women in

Iran, are

still a

basic challenge to their social freedom and equal social status with men. Polygamy and temporary marriages permitted by law are still practised among the middle and lower classes. “Unilateral divorce, i.e. the right of repudiation by the hus-

band, inequality in inheritance and of guardianship, give legal sanction to a lower social status for women.” The daughter

inherits only one-third of the property, i.e. half the son’s share; but women have full rights over the property owned by them. As far as the political status of Iranian

women is concerned,

she is still in a low position. Women in Iran are still disqulified as citiizens without the right to vote.

In Afghanistan, which is one of the least developed among Muslim countries, women still have the traditional role. The general illiteracy is estimated to be over 90 per cent, and female

illiteracy is over 95 per cent. The economic life of women here is limited to those in urban professions. Recently there is improvement in the professional life of women. A large number of the also the and

working women are married, but there are unmarried women working as teachers and in other allied professions. Though unveiling was brought about in 1959, the movements activities of women are limited. Marriages are arranged

by parents at an early age.

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The women

in the household are

Introduction

15

‘segregated and have little social contact with the outside world.

‘But the educated women have considerable influence in family affairs. Polygamy is widely practised. So also is unilateral

‘divorce. The Indonesian women have never known the restrictive social ‘customs of veiling

and

segregation

prevalent

in

Islam.

The

Dutch influence is predominantly marked here. Afther Indpendence there was remarkable improvement in education. The consitution provided women with equality of educational rights.

‘Co-education was established from the primary to the university level.

Girls are admitted to all levels of education

and the

status of male and female students is the same. Women in Indonesia are actively participating in economic life at all levels. In rural communities women are engaged in agri-

culture and cottage industries. According to Woodsmall (1960: 216), the remarkeble participation of women in the economic life of Indonesia today is the outcome of general economic and

political conditions rather then social change in the status of women. Education was the handmaid of this process. Indonesian women are granted suffrage

and equal rights with

men to vote and hold public office under the Provisional Consti-

tution of the Republic of Indonesia. There are many women’s organizations working along party lines. However, in Indonesia also polygamy and unilateral divorce

are prevalent. Child marriage is allowed. “Indonesian women ate working realistically within the framework of Islam. Most of them do not now demand legal abolition of polygamy but regulation and control of current practices, which, it is claimed, are contrary to the spirit of Quran.” (Woodsmall, 1960:227) In Pakistan, some restrictive customs have a determinative

effect on the life of Muslim women. Purdah

valent in Pakistan, though the younger women

upper class do not always use it.

system is still preof the

educated

Lady Abdul Quadir, an active

and prominent women’s liberation movement worker in Pakistan and who discarded purdah as early as 1940, remarks that

purdah is

undoubtedly losing

small, 1960:102).

Education

of girls had been

ground

but

too slowly (Wood-

a serious problem in Pakistan.

“The marked inequality between girls and boys in primary

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edu-

16

Status of Muslim

Women in India

cation was accentuated by the serious wastage of girl‘s education

within

two

or three

years because

of the social and economic

obstacles—purdah at ten years of age, the girl’s burden of work and early marriage (Woodsmall, 1960 : 106). Though the promotion of gitl’s education inevitably lags behind, in the field of higher education there has been a marked increase in the number of women’s colleges. Women attend the universities, all of which

are opened

to them

now.

Though

they

have the freedom to .

attend classes without the burqua, many still use it. to the Principal of Kinnaird College, the remarkable higher education of women is the most revolutionary Pakistan today (Woodsmall, 1960: 111). Women’s economic participation is significantly

According growth in change in improving

and now all professions are open to them except foreign service.

Women in rural areas are engaged in agriculture. A review of the position of women in urban and rural economic life in all levels has arrived at the conclusion that the great majority of

women

in

Pakistan

because of the

1960:129).

are

an

unrealized

retarding influence

economic

of the purdah

potential

(Woodsmall,

Pakistani women are granted full political rights. They are given adult suffrage and freedom to stand for election. The

Pakistan Muslim League and Punjab Muslim League had several prominent women members. The conferment of full political equality has helped women in Pakistan to raise their status. In the urban areas, modernization has affected not only the

size of the Pakistan family but also the role and attitudes of the

members of the family. According to Nazamul Karim (1963: 310) in urban communities the wife was not thought of as a chattel but an equal member of the family. There has been a considerable change in husband-wife relationship and they call and refer to each other by name. “Today the unquestioned authority of the husband never goes unchallenged by the wife. It thus appears that women are becoming emancipated from their former subjection, although this may be at the cost of family

happiness and stability. But we have to remember that 80 per cent of the Pakistanees live in rural areas where, as stated earlier,

tradition still holds sway. Speaking about the women in Bangla Desh, Duza M. Badrud

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Introduction

IT

{1964 : 48) points out that the women’s roles outside the home are limited, which is partly reflected by female participation in. the labour force which was only about 11 percent in 1961. According to him the proportion of literate women was only about one inten in 1961. Women in Bangla Desh are married at a very early age, immediately after puberty. A recent study by Jahan Rounaq (1973-b) indicates that the vast majority of women in the country still live in Purdah or

social seclusion, sometimes

by veil.

Bangla Desh women,

both

rural and urban, traditional and modern, ‘live in a social system that sanctifies an unequal and inferior status of women...

Status of Muslim Women in India We shall now examine the position of Muslim women in India. As stated earlier, Muslims constitute 11 per cent of India’s population. Indeed, India has the second largest Muslim

population in the world. from Hinduism and as

by Hindu

culture.

Indian

such

Available

Muslims are mostly converts

have been

very much

literature indicates

influenced

that

Indian

women who enjoyed a higher status during the vedic and Buddhistic periods suffered a reversal in their status during later times, which is exemplified in the famous couplet of Manu.*

The position got further deteriorated in later years. So, when the Muslim conquerors established their rule over India, they found that the

position of women in

jess conformed with

that in their own

they were even willing to borrow Hindu society.

Hindu

society

society and

more or

asa result

some of these elements from

During the period of Muslim rule the birth of a girl was looked upon as an unfortunate and unpleasant event in the Muslim family. Early marriage, i.c., marriage at the age of

8 or9 becamea common practice during this period. As tegards the settlement of marriage, it was entirely the concern of the parents on both sides, who agreed to the conditions of the contract and fixed the date of marriage. At that time girls *This couplet says : ‘‘The father protects her in childhood, adulthood, the sons take care of her in old age: at no time in

woman deserves to be free.

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husband in life does a

18

Status of Muslim Women in India

were

not

allowed

to express

their

opinion

regarding

their

marriage. Akbar, in order to abolish this practice, made the consent of the bridegroom and bride absolutely necessary for marriage but this injunction was soon ignored. Dowry system was prevalent among the Muslims at that time among the richer people, probably borrowed from the Hindus. Divorce was commonly practised during this period. The Muslim laws and customs allowed divorce conditionally.

Muslim husbands used it more freely and liberally. Polygamy was also prevalent among the Muslims, especially among the high class

people even

practice also by law.

though emperor

Akbar prohibited this

Conquest and conversion made polygamy

not only possible but socially desirable.

Women of the imperial and noble families were confined to ‘harem’ life. Referring to the monotonous and miserable life of the inmates of the harems, Manucci writes, ‘“‘...the women being shut up with this closeness and constantly watched and

having

neither

liberty nor occupation,

adorning themselves,

and

their

think

minds

dwell

of nothing but

on

nothing but

malice and lewdness” (quoted in Ila Mukerjee, 1972 : 40).

Another practice which was generally prevalent among the Muslim women during the medieval period, particularly among high and well to-do families, was the ‘purdah’ or seclusion. The practice was looked upon as a symbol of respectability. Women

belonging to the

poor classes

had to

work

their livelihood and so could not observe

outside

the purdah

home for like their

sisters in upper classes. Manucci observes that among the Mohammedans it was a great dishonour fora family when a wife is compelled to uncover herself. (quoted in P.N. Ojha, 1961 : 138). Purdah system isolated these women from the

-outer-world and confined them to the four walls of their house. As a whole we find that the position of women during the Moghal period was definitely inferior. ‘The women were not generally considered full persons whose advice was to be sought

and experience relied upon, and

conclusions

were drawn from

this belief by men according to their temperament and culture”.

(M. Mujeeb, 1967: 224). During the early

widely observed.

part of the

However,

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British rule purdah

a series of

was

still

legislations enacted by

Introduction the British and the

popularisation of western

19

education had a

salutary effect, especially on the upper class man,

and this sof-

tened the severity of many of the social injustice perpetrated on women.



In the 20th century, a number of laws were passed, like the Child Marriage Restraint Act (common to all), the Dissolution of

Muslim Marriage Act of 1939, etc.,

of women practices.

to improve

the condition

and to safeguard them from the prevailing evil Mujeeb (1967 : 526) observes that in the 20th

century also reforms have had recourse to legalisation to abolish child marriage, to give women rights to inheritance and safeguard them against the custom of dowry. In modern time, economic conditions in many families make it necessary for women to go out of their home, work and

thus earn their livelihood to supplement the family income. As a result of these conditions they cannot observe seclusion or

purdah. Among the educated sections of the

feeling

that polygamy

is an

evil

population,

practice

and

there is the

many

of the

According to Syed Indian Muslims now prefer monogamy. Ameer Ali (1922 : 232), among the Indian Muslims, 95 men out of every hundred are at the present moment, by either conviction or necessity, monogamous. With the spread of education, segregation between the sexes is gradually disappear-

ing. The number of women leaving purdah or seclusion and taking active part in many national affairs is slowly but steadily increasing.

Education of Muslim Women

in India

.

fn this context, a word about the: education of Muslim women in India isin order. Quassim Emin, the author of the first book on the emancipation of women gave priority to demanding better education for her; he considered furthering

her intellectual development

a pre-requisite

to

improving her

position as a member of her family and the Muslim community (Quoted in Lichtenstadter, “n.d” 135). Education is also an indispensable means for helping the Muslim women out of

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20

Status of Muslim

Women in India

their economic misery because economic

dependency is another

factor contributing to the low status of women.

During the Turco-Afghan rule, in India, the women belong‘Ghiasuddin ing to the royalty were given private tuitions.

Khilji had

founded a Madrasa at Sarangpur

in which special

arrangements were made for teaching arts and crafts’. (Yusuf Hussain, 1959 : 92) During the Moghal period, as female education was considered

less important than male education, very inadequate provisions

Mass education of women was were made for its development. Education was confined to the royal and generally unknown. high class sections of the population and to some extent to the

middle class. There were ‘Maktabs’ for imparting religious education to girls in private houses where elderly ladies taught the Quran and

books

on

Muslim

morals.

widows

generally

regarded it to be their duty to teach young girls in their own houses. There are numerous instances of highly educated and

accomplished ladies in the royal

of nobles. However, several factors

cation on a mass among them was

families as well in the families.

hindered the growth of female edu-

Most important scale during this period. seclusion including purdah system waich

restricted the freedom of movement and confined women to their homes. It prevented the woman from attending educational institutions and thus acquiring higher education. Another

factor was early marriage. -Because girls were married at an early age, they were compelled to discontinue their studies. Under the fast changing conditions in the country in recent

times, increased attention is being paid to women’s

education.

Rawat (1970 : 430) points out that “if we take a historical survey of women’s education in India, we shall find that during the modern period the educationists and the authorities devoted their mind to the problem of women’s education ever since

the advent of English education.”

Before

the 20th century no

organized or constructive efforts were made in this direction. However, according to Pratima Asthana (1974 : 16) “the activi-

ties of the Christian

ultimately gave rise spite of the hostile

missions in the

field of female education

to an enlightened public opinion and in opposition from the orthodox section,

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Introduction.

21

realization of the necessity and importance of female education gtew apace in the country.” During 1905-21, girls’ education received much encourage-

ment and

Gandhi

made considerable

also

purdah system education.

supported

which

progress.

female

prevented

After 1926 Mahatma

education

girls from

and

he

acquiring

opposed

higher

After India attained Independence women’s education made considerable progress. The number of girls’ schools and colleges increased. Muslim girls going to schools and colleges also increased slowly but steadily. Muslim parents who are

anxious to educate their sons are

daughters with education. large numbers while in

also anxious

to provide their

Village girls are attending schools in towns more women seek college

education. “Yet it must be confessed that on the whole, Muslim women

react very slowly to these new influences. Because of long seclusion and life of submission, most of them dislike and even ‘dread the very thought of change.” (Beven Jones, 1941 : 36-37). Another factor which hinders the progress of education among Muslim women is that a majority of the Muslims still live in

joint families, where house called Zanana.

women reside in separate part of the But now the educated section of the

Muslim population has begun to develop a dislike for the joint family system which restricts the freedom of the individual and supresses individuality. Asa result, they are moving to-

wards nuclear families. Another noteworthy factor is that a large group of Muslim

women still use purdah or veil and they accept the seclusion with a kind of fatal recognition and rationalises it on the basis of custom and tradition (Bevan Jones, 1941 : 50). Yet another

factor is that many educated women unrestricted freedom for their sex.

are still

education and freedom of movement,

the advantages of female

Even though these factors hinder the

not in favour of

advancement of female

education are being increasingly appreciated. Educated Muslim women everywhere show

towards increasing economic the need to become

independence.

financially indenendent

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the

tendency

The awareness of

and to supplement

22

Status of Muslim

Women in India

family income, forces Muslim women to accept jobs outside home. But when compared to their Hindu counterparts the number of employed Muslim women is smaller. In the rural areas the women do most certainly work on farms and perform other economic activities of the villages. Consequently, they are treated with more respect and given more freedom, though

still subordinated to men.

However,a

woman

in a middle

class home still cannot live independently; “if she did not subordinate herself in some way to a man, to be financially supported by him, she would in all probability starve to death.”

(Smith, 1946 : 81).

Education of Muslim Women in Kerala Kerala State stands first in India in literacy. “The progress of literacy in Kerala has been both accelerated and highly encouraging at least from 1901 onwards” (Devassy, 1965: 364). The percentage of literacy in the State has gone up from 46.85 per cent in 1961 to 60.42 percent in 1971, whereas the National literacy rate has increased only from 24.03 percent in 1961 to

29.32 per cent during this period. In the case of male the literacy tate in the State is 66.54 percent as against the National rate, 39.51 per cent. The percentage of female literates in 1971 is 53.90 per cent whereas for the whole of India it is 18.44 per cent. Kerala has the highest percentage of female literates among the states of India. Among the districts of the State the highest percentage of literacy is recorded in Alleppey district (70.44%). However, the study area comprising the Northern districts of Cannanore, Kozhikode Malappuram and Palghat (former

Malabar district) have literacy rate less than the state average. They are also the districts which have the largest proportion of Muslims in the population. The education of Muslims who form a sizeable section of the population of

authorities

had

Kerala

was

a

difficult problem

to face in Malabar from the

which

beginning.

the

“The

education of Mohammedans engaged the attention of Government from early period but owing chiefly to the apathy of the Mohammedan community much progress was not effected.”

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Introduction

23

(Satthianadhan, 1894:77). In 1871 : 72 a plan was organized for improving the education imparted to Mappila (Muslim) in the schools attached to the Mosques. What they there was nothing else than learning to read and write from the Quran. “The greatest obstacle of all was the

children received passages supreme

indifference of the Mappilla to secular education.’’ (Innes, 1951:

In 1872-73 special measures were undertaken with the object of advancing education among the Muslim community. “In Malabar special encouragement in grants-in-aid

schools order

for Mappillas

to advance

and

other arrangements

education among

the Inspector of Schools,

was held out to

were

made in

that class. To Garthwaite,

belongs the honour of organizing the

system of Mappilla education in Malabar’’ (Satthianadhan, 1894: 119), There were certain special difficulties in the spread

of education among the Muslims in North Malabar.

The Mus-

lims who were satisfied with Arabic were against Malayalam as the medium of instruction. Besides. the religious teachers were

suspicious of secular education.

many

this

educational

period. Arabic

facilities

and

were

To overcome their opposition afforded

to

Muslims during.

Persian were recognized as

_classicak

languages for examinations; Muslim students were charged only half fees; scholarships were provided for the Mohammedan

students.

In

1881

the grant-in-aid

was

raised by 25%. There

were 41 government primary schools for Mohammedans, of which 27 were girls’ schools. Again, in 1914-15 pointed attention of the Government was.

directed to the education of Muslim boys and girls. Special fee concessions were granted to them. Full salary grants were: sanctioned to

the Mohammedan

primary schools.

Arabic was.

offered as a second language and Arabic teachers were appoin~ ted to teach them. In 1923-24 six vernacular schools for Mohammedans were opened and their number increased in the next years. The first Mohammedan

girl passed

the Vernacular

School Leaving Examination in 1925. In spite of the encouragement provided by the government, in the form of fee concesssions and grant-in-aid, the Muslim girls. attending the vernacular schools were very small in number. To quote Velu Pillai (1940: 732) “although

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the special concessions.

24

Status of Muslim

Women in India

granted lead to a steady increase in the number

of Mohamme-

dan boys in the schools, the proportion of girls attending schools was still disappointing. As a result of the effective propaganda work and the appointment of a Mohammedan graduate as an Assistant

Inspector

in school

there

was a marked increase in

the number of Muslim girls attending schools. In 1935-36 a scheme was sanctioned for securing the co-operation of Muslim associations in different parts of the state by means of grantsin-aid for doing propaganda work to increase the number of Mohammedan girls in the primary schools. The result was that the number of Mohammedan girls attending schools rose from 4,853 in 1933-34 to 6,052 in the next year 36°’ (Velu Pillai, 1940 : 732).

After

the

formation

of the

state

and

10,450 in 1935-

of Kerala

in 1956, the

Government took a keen interest and gave all encouragement in improving education among the Muslims who came under the category ‘Other Backward Communities’ (OBC). It is only very recently that Muslims have taken to English education in the State. The Kumara Pillai Commission (1965 : 51) which was

appointed by the Government of Kerala in July 1964 to look into the educational problems of backward communities in the State points out that, “although there are a few cases of wealthy persons among the members of this community, speaking gene-

rally,

Muslims,

asa

class

educationally

and

are

for Muslims.

appear

economically.”

to be very

According

backward both

to the Commis-

sion, 40 per cent of the seats are reserved for the Backward Community in educational institutions in Kerala of which 9 per cent reserved

Statistics collected by the Commis+

‘sion show that of the literacy rate in Kerala is 468 per thousand. But in the case of Muslims 829 out of every thousand are illiterate.

The

report

reveals

school going girl students only clear the low educational level general and of Muslim girls in out that in the matter of literacy, far behind

that

out

of:

thousand

high

2.83 are Muslims. This makes of the Muslims in Kerala in particular. It may be pointed Malabar (the study area) lags

the rest of Kerala, and it may be to a considerable

extent due to the presence in that region of a large proportion sof Muslims. Thus, we find that education is the key which contributed to.

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Introduction

25

and accelerated the emergence of women as an important factor in all

societies. As

a matter

of fact, available literature

indi-

cates that there is a close relationship between the spread of female education on the one hand and the development of women’s status on the other. But in Muslim Communities we find that though encouragement has been given to Muslim women in matters of education and other activities which edu-

cation envisages, Muslim women have not been able to take full advantage of them largely due to the dominance of social structural and institutional factors in Islam such as early marriage, polygamy, unilateral divorce, segregation, veiling

etc. which impede their utilisation in full.

and the areas through which they exert

The manner in which

influence

on the social

structure will be examined in detail in the following chapters.

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Digitized byGoogle

Original from

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

Methodology

Objective of the Study The objective of the study is to find out whether education plays any significant role in raising the social status of Muslim

women. If it could contribute significantly to women’s status we want to know the specific areas of improvement in their status caused by education. If education does not succeed in improv-

ing the prevailing status of Muslim women, we want to identify the factors which are responsible for inhibiting status improvement in spite of education. Statement

of the Problem

The social status of Muslim women has been a neglected field of

study

in Indian

sociology.

In spite of the fact that Muslims

constitute 11 per cent of India’s population (and half of them are women) and in spite of the further fact that the Government of India and the State governments are particularly anxious to raise the status of Muslim women, who compared to their Hindu counterparts, are in the most unenviable position, no systematic effort has been made so far to find out the factors behind their low status. As a result we know precious little about th: social dynamics of status improvement among an

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28

Status of Muslim

Women in India

important segment of the society, This has greatly handicapped the formulation of policies and the administration of welfare programmes intended for their uplift. The present study there-

fore attempts to examine the socio-cultural aspects of the status

of Islamic women in India with special reference

to Kerala.

As

education is a major instrument through which the Government of India and the State governments attempt to improve the condition of the weaker sections of the country, we have attempted to examine the contributions of education to the improve-

ment of the status of Muslim women in Kerala. We assume that since educational opportunities are equally available to all sections of the population, if any section of the population has not been ableto avail them fully (or even after availing them

have not been able to gain advantages accruing

therefrom)

this

Accordingly, our

identification of

may be largely due to the presence of certain social structural and institutional variables which are peculiar to that section.

attempt

is directed

to

the

these variables which hinder the enjoyment of educational opportunities (and through it other opportunities) by this section.

After examining available

literature

on the

subject and in the

light of a pilot study which we conducted, we put forward a few hypotheses for testing and validation.

Hypotheses Our central hypothesis is that education has, indeed, contributed to the improvement of social status of Muslim women. However, so many structural and institutional factors in the

Muslim society have hindered the availing of educational opportunities provided by the state. They have also stood in the

way of using education as a channel of status mobility for women. Based on this central hypothesis we have formulated certain other hypotheses also. They are : (2) The practice of seclusion of women which is widely observed in the Muslim community hinders the Muslim women from availing of educational opportunities offered

to them by the larger society. (2) The practice of early marriage which

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is widely prevalent

Methodology

29

among the Muslim community prevents Muslim women from continuing their education after marriage. (3) Absence of socially defined occupational roles for Muslim. women

detracts

from

the importance

tool for achieving occupational skills.

of education as a

(4) Many of the modern feminine roles are out of conformity with the of feminine roles of traditional Islamic society. Hence education which is necessary for performing

modern roles is devalued. (5) Seclusion and lack of education create in Muslim women low level of aspiration and this,

from striving for status mobility.

in

turn,

dissuades them

(6) The traditional value system of the Muslim society assigns to women a position subordinate to men and this value system is still enforced by men in the Muslim society.

It will be seen that education is the most important variable used for the analysis of social status in the study. As religious education in the Quran is imperative for all true followers of the Prophet and as Arabic schools (called Madrasas) have been established by the Muslim community whereever they live in sizeable numbers, this kind of education has to be differentiated

from secular education provided under the auspices of the State. Accordingly, we have defined ‘education’ as ‘secular education’

which

is imparted

through

the

Department

of

Education of the State Government. It this context, education may be defined as the ability to read, write experience, discipline and also instructions and training which an individual gets by attending any formal institution like school or college.

such institution which is sponsered or run by the government will be considered as an

the present study.

Any

Kerala State

educational institution for

By ‘status’ Linton (1936) meant a position in a social system occupied by designated individuals; by role, the behavioural

enacting of the patterned expectations

attributed to

that posi-

tion. Status and role, in these terms, are concepts serving to connect the culturally defiined expectations with the patterned

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30

Status of Muslim Women in India

behaviour and relationships wich comprise social structure (quoted by Merton, 1957 : 368) Talcott Parksons (1951 ; 25) defines role as the organized sector of an actor’s orientation which constitutes and defines his participation in an interactive process. Status on the other hand tefers to the actor’s position within an institution, i.e., within a

system of roles. Role is thus the “processual aspect” and status the “positional aspect” of an actor’s participation in a social

system,

Brain Morris

(1971 : 397) defines status as the location of an

actor in a system of social relationships and role as the set of expectations applied to the incumbents of that particular status.

According to Robert K. Merton (1957 : 369-70) social status of an individul is his status-set, each of the statuses in turn having its distinctive role-set. Role-set according to him is the complement of role relationships which persons have by virtue of occupying a particular social status. In her study of ‘Social Status of North Indian Women’, Ila Mukerjee (1972 : iii) has defined social status as the place that a ‘woman occupies and the dignity as well as privileges she enjoys in society. For the purpose of our study, we may define social status as the position an individual has in society by virtue of

having to perform certain roles. His/her social position includes position in the family, occupational hierarchy, politics and teligion.

Traditional Muslim society has given its women a very limited tole. As a matter of fact the only role that a woman was expec-

ted to play was that of a faithfull and dutiful wife and an affectionate mother. In modern industrial societies, these domestic Toles are supplemented and in some cases superseded by her role

as a working woman. : The social status of Muslim women is measured in terms of the defferent roles she performs in society. In operational terms,

Her social status can be measured by the degree of freedom enjoys in the following : (1)

(2) (3)

to get education

to choose and hold a job to have say in spouse selection

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she

Methodology

(4)

31

to participate in family decision-making including family

(5)

budget, education and marriage of children, acquistion and disposal of consumer durables, real estates, etc. to use one’s income in her own way

(7)

cultural and political) to go out without male escort.

(6)

to participate

in extra

familial

activities

(religious,

Sample

Though the Muslims

are

spread

over

the

entire

length

and

breadth of the state, there are certain districts wihch have larger

concentration of Muslims

than

others.

Thus

the

districts

of

Malappurem, Calicut, Palghat and Cannanore account for 66 per

cent of the total Muslim population of Kerala. While the proportion of Muslim population in the state is 19.5 per cent, the proportion of Muslims in Malappuram is 64 per cent. Cali-

cut 30.6 per cent, Palghat 21.2 per cent and Cannanore 24 per cent (1971 Census). Accordingly these four districts were chosen for drawing up the sample. The population was stratified into tural and urban based on 1971 census data and representative

Panchayats (rural) and towns (urban) were

selected from each

of the four districts. From each of these Panchayats and Towns,

wards were identified for selection of sample subjects. Since education is a key variable in the study we wanted to select our

sample from a population consisting of the better educated Muslims. Hence selection of Panchayat and towu wards was

done on the basis of their comparatively better position in edu-

cation. From the voters list/register of households maintained by the Panchayat offices:and Municipal Corporations, Muslim householdes were identified (by the name of head of household). By

using simple random sampling method, 450 women and 150 men were chosen for interview. The two samples

were drawn independently.

as a complete range of status

married woman.

The

of women and men

Only married women were selected, indicator can be had only froma

justification

for

selecting

a sample of

Muslim men was that they are the decision makers in the house-

hold and community and control all the channels of status mobility.

It was therefore thought useful to know

Google

how they

ratio-

32.

Statns of Muslim

nalise their actions

Women in India

even

though

some

of these actions are at

variance with the injunctions of the Quran.

Tools of data

Collection

Data of the empirical sudy was

view

schedules.

Two

separate

collected mainly through inter-

schedules

were

prepared

for

women and men for collecting information on matter pertaining to the study. Besides personal data of respondests the

schedules contained questions relating to status attitudes and practices in this area.

indicators and

Before preparing the schedules, the researcher conducted a pilot study in Trivandrum district (rural and urban) and held discussions with prominent Muslims (men and women) to have

some insight into the problems. It was on the basis of this that the research design was developed and perfected. The schedules were pretested in the selected districts because of known differences in their spoken language in terms of diction,

dialect and

accent from the one spoken by the Muslims in Trivandurm.

With the leaders of Muslim community including politicians, Mullahs and social workers, depth interviews were held to find out their ideas and attitudes on the prevailing practices in Mus-

lim community and their religious and secular foundations. Data Collection

The field study, relating to this research was conducted in the middle of 1974. For this the researcher stayed in the districts for four months. Being a stranger to the place, establishing rapport with the respondents was found to be very difficult in the beginning. Many of the respondents being illiterate and having little contact with the outside

world,

it was

very diffi-

cult to make them understand the purpose of the visit. Some of them misunderstood the researcher as a family planning

propagandist, some others as a census enumerator and yet others, as a person sent by the Government to check the ration

cards. Another problem faced by the researcher

was with language.

Though ali the respondents spoke Malayalam, the State language,

Google

Methology

33

they used different pronounciations, words and accent. This was more so in Malappuram where literacy was the lowest. In

the Palghat district, many people spoke a crude mixture of Malayam and Tamil. However. these difficulties were over after the first few days of field work. Establishing rapport was a major problem with many female

respondents. Some of the women were quite suspicious and afraid of the interviewer and at first would not even let her in.

In some cases the woman would be prepared for the interview only after the approval of the husband and other elder male members of the family was obtained. Yet others insisted that their

husbands also should be present at the time researcher therefore thought it better to

of interview. The

approach men wherever

possible and get their consent before interviewing their women. It needs to be pointed out that some men who were approached for interview of their wives refused to grant this interview fearing that the researcher might poison the minds of their women with knowledge and ideas harmfnl to them. In such cases alternate

respondents had to be used. Once rapport was established, the respondents were very co-operative and even hospitable. In interviewing men, there were fewer problems. Many of

them were apparently happy that they speak about their family to a member of ever, in some cases their women showed lady talking freely with their husbands. Usually the interviews lasted for 40 to

got an opportunity to the opposite sex. Howdispleasure at a young

on the time required to establish rapport.

60

minutes

depending

Analysis of data With the help of the computer, tables were prepared by analysing the data on the basis of family structure, age, education, income, place of residence, and husband’s education. Chi square values and coefficient of contingency were calculated. In most cases

Chi square test was used to establish

Chi square test was found contingency was also used,

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insufficient,

relationships. the

Where the

test of coefficient of

Digitized byGoogle

Original from

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

The Research Setting |

The present study was conducted in the Malabar resgion of Kerala State. This region consists of the four northern districts of Kerala, viz., Malappuram, Calicut, Palghat, and Cannanore. They are contiguous and together account for 66 per cent of the Muslim population of the State. Muslims form

a little less though for more than There is

in Kerala.

than one-fiflh of the total population of Kerala the whole of India they account for only slightly one-tenth. no authoritative data on the first arrival of Muslims It is believed

that

the

religion

introduced in Kerala in the 8th century A.D.

of

Islam was first

though according

to Burnell (1909 : 456) the Mohammedan Arabs

first settled in

Malabar only about the beginning of the 9th century. The early Muslims came as traders and settled down mostly on the coastal regions. They built mosques in different parts of the State and gradually made converts to their religion. They were

able to win the favour of the Zamorin (ruler) of Calicut who gave them the right not only to build mosques but also to convert his subjects. As a matter of fact, Malabar was the

first place where Islam made peaceful conversion on a large scale in India. Muslim influence in this region continues to the

Google

36

India Status of Muslim Women in

present day.

called “Mappillas”. According The Muslims of Malabar are a used in Malabar to denote was m ter the re Moo is Lew to a native. ish settler who married Jew or ian ist Chr , lim Mus only to the The name is now confined (Thurston, 1907 : 459). ni Muslim The Mappillas are a Sun Muslims of Malabar. from the Arabs the 8th century group originating during las were

n. traders and also from convertio n highly industrious and their mai

The early Mappil occupation was trade

and

of eduas a result of the spread commerce, though today, as get into other occupations cation they have managed to now engaged

s of Malabar are well. By and large, the Muslim e and very little in other mainly in agriculture and trad occupations. the Mappillas of Malabar Because of their historical origins in certain parts of the area are mostly patrilinear, though mat riliny also is prevalent. polygamy still prevails anda Among the Kerala Muslims at a time. But in actual es wiv 4 to up e hav can la Mappil y one wife. Polyandry is foronl e hav m the of t mos tice prac dis not exist. Girls are tra doe and law lim Mus by bidden after puberty. immediately tionally married just before the parents. The ceremony is Marriage is usually arranged by and

priest (Kazi), the relatives conducted in the presence of the of espread among the Muslims others. Dowry system is wid The amount depends on the Kerala as in other communities. groom. upational status of the social, educational and occ But it is not actually paid Mehr or bride price also exists. mise of payment is given and the time of marriage ; only a pro question of payment does as long as the marriage lasts, the

specially among Divorce by the husband is not rare, er it a Respectable families, however, consid the lower classes. Divorce by wife, though perdisgrace to divorcea woman.

not arise.

ow remarriage while permitted by law, is very rare. Wid Personal Law, is also very mitted by the Quran and by Muslim Vidows tend to remain alone and look rare in the study area.

after their children rather than remarry. In the matter of inheritance of property,

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Muslim women in

The Research Setting Kerala, as in the rest of India, have

share of Muslim men. Kerala Muslims are very religious

mosque

for

prayers

regularly.

As

37

claim for only

half of the

minded.

go

Men

a rule,

to the

women

do

not

go to the Mosques but say their prayers at home. The Malabar Muslims scrupulously observe

prescribed by the

Quran.

The

Ramzan, Muharam, Bakrid and

observed by most Muslims

in

the

various

most

fasts

important

Milad-i-sherif,

Malabar.

and

festivals

of them are

and

these are

Religious

education

is considered as a prerequisite for every Muslim and Madrasas have been established by the community at convenient points

for children.

Rich

Muslims

do

not

send

Madrasas but employ private tutors at home. In dress, Muslims have adopted the major

their

children to

style

prevalent

among the people of the locality. Orthodox Muslim men have their head shaven off and use afezcap or turban to cover their head. Muslim women wear a dhoti (Mundu) generally made of some coloured cloth and a blouse (Kuppayam) with close neck and long

sleeves.

They

which covers their head and hangs

also wear a piece

loose

of cloth

over their body.

In

the towns, educated women wear sarees and fashionably made blouses but many make it a point to cover their head with the

loose end of the sari

when

they

go

out

or

meet

strangers.

Mappilla women do not generally seclude themselves completely

and are not held to be “ghoshas” like other Muslim women. In Malappuram and Calicut, a few of the upper class women use the Burkha,

a dress

which

covers

the

head to foot and with a netted portion over

whole

the

considered more a symbol of aristocracy than requirement. The burkha is usually black in generally made of silk or other costly cloth.

The main

home.

area

of activity of the

Muslim

There are few opportunities for

body

eyes.

from

This is

as a religious colour and is

women

is their

them, especially in the

tural areas, to go out. One such opportunity is the religious festival. During this time they go to the mosque mainly to attend religious discourses given by some learned mullah. According to some of our respondents, the main

theme in these

discourses is on women’s duties in society. Wedding cetemonies provide another occasion for gathering together. But an un-

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38

Status of Muslim

married

woman

invited to it.

Women in India

cannot

attend

a wedding.

Nor

will she be

The Muslim community in Malabar is backward both educationally and economically. Most of its members are illiterate and they pursue low status occupations like petty shop keeping, beedy making and commerce which do not

require much

skill.

Since

men

have low paying occupations, their

themselves women

are

are

illiterate

and

still worse and

are compelled to depend on their husbands for survival.

About the age of 5, boys and girls are sent to the Madrasa for religious instruction. The courses here would run for 2 to 3 years. Formerly (and even today in many places) the classes in these schools were held during day time and so if a girl

wanted to attend the state school, this was possibly only after completing her religious education. As a result, by the time girls reach the 4th or Sth standard in the state school, they would attain puberty and then they will not be allowed to continue their education and even to go out of home. This condition they endure even after marriage unless the husband lives in a town.

In the Malabar area, however, towns are few and far between and the urban Muslims are as much conservative as their rural

counterpart in letting their

in agricultural pursuits

are

women

an

go

out.

exception.

Women

By

engaged

necessity

they

have to work in the field. But to the extent possible, Muslim women would prefer to work under Muslim landlords who are plently in the study area. Seclusion is very much the order in the aristocratic families. We are told that a male stranger is not expected to speak to a lady except through a mediater—a

grown up male member of the house. Even a male cannot examine a woman patient except in the presence husband or father.

her.

We

ourselves

doctor of her

Still, he cannot touch her body to examine

had

occasion

to witness

a few

stances (both strangers and doctors) during our visits.

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such in-

Educational Background

Islam attaches great value to education

and

prescribes it as the

duty of a woman as well as that of a man to acquire knowledge.

According to Ilse Lichtenstadter (n.d.:141), “fundamentally it (Islam) has always considered learning at least a useful accessory to being a good Muslim ...”’ Islam thinks that education is a necessary condition which helps women to develop their faculties. In the words of Mohammed Quth (1964:188), “acquistion of knowlege was as great a duty of woman as of man, for, Islam

wanted the womenfolk to develop their

with physical ones and

rational faculties along

thus ascend to higher planes of spiritual

existence...” Mohammed preached to his followers : “‘knowledge

enables its possessor to distinguish what is forbidden from what is not, it lights the way to heaven; it is our friend in the desert,

our society in solitude, our companion with benefits of friends; it guides us to happiness’* (Gore, Desai and Chitnis, 1967:89).

The

four things which the Prophet commands the followers to do for their children are : (1) to circumcise them (2) to inform them of the principles of their religion (3) to educate them properly, and (4) to marry them off when they reach the proper age. Thus, we see that in Islam education is given an important position

in the life of the people.

Though

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Mohammed favoured women’s

40

Status of Muslim

Women in India

education, in actual practice the injunctions of the Quran in this respect were completely ignored. The Muslim community, as it had misinterpreted many other principles of Islam, also considered the education of girls as an unnecessary step. Asa result,

‘a situation developed where Muslim societies

perhaps

the

most

backward

in

the

are educationally

contemporary

world’

(Humayun Kabir, 1969:8). In the absence of education, women in the Arab countries were considered inferior to men and consequently their status became

exceedingly low.

Their status

began to improve as a result of the spread of education. Berger

(1962 : 152) points out that “emancipation of women in the Arab world has proceeded indirectly largely as a consequence of

their greater education and freedom to work outside home, rather than as a result of direct legislation aimed at revolutionizing their status.”

In spite of the fact that the Government of India have provided girls with equal opportunity for education with boys and have given special considerations

for

the

backward

classes

in

the form of free concessions, scholarships, seat reservations etc., the number of educated Muslim pared with women belonging to

women is still less when comother communities. The con-

servatism of parents towards the education of girls, together -with the practice of purdah or seclusion and early marriage are the main factors which ‘hinder the educational progress of Muslim women. To find out whether the reluctance on the part of the mothers to send their daughters to schools is due to the belief that there

is something. in their religion which is against women’s education, the following question was asked to our women respondents :

‘Is there anything in your religion which is against women’s education other than religious education’. Only 8.22 per cent of the respondents said ‘yes’, while the rest 91.78 per cent said there is nothing in Islam which is against girl’s education. When the answer to this question was analysed on the basis of education, family income and age of the respondents, it was found that these variables do not have any influence on their answer.

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Educational Background

41

Factors Influencing Education In spite of this, our sample

of

persons (14.67%) who were

450

educated,

women

contained

high

only 66

school and above.

What is more, 35 per cent were illiterate. Though rural-urban difference in education are generally well established, in the

case of our respondents it is seen

that

their place

of residence

does not have any influence on their level of education.

Age

always

remains

an important

foctor

influencing

the

education of individual. The younger generation having better opportunties and being more conscious of the value of education, are usually better educated than those belonging to the older

generation.

In the case

of our

respondents

also

this is true.

Age of the respondents and their educational level are significantly related to each other. The table shows that when only 15.47 per cent of the respon-

dents who belong to the age group 25 and below were illiterate, 35.72 per cent of them are high school or college educated.

So

also when 68 per cent of the women belonging to the age group

46 and above were illiterate, only 4 per cent of them had high school or college education. It is evident that age: of the ces-

pondents and their educational level are

related

to each other,

i.e., as age increases education decreases. Income of the respondents’ parents also has got some influence on their educational level. 52 per cent of the Muslim women belonging to the income group below Rs. 150 were illiterate. In this income group, only 1 per cent had high school education and above. On the other hand, those with income above Rs. 750 account for only 16 per cent of the illiterates but they account for 51 per cent of the high school and above

group.

Thus, we can infer from this that as income of parents

increases, education of respondents also increases. It is an accepted fact that the education of the

marked influence on the education of parents are aware of the importance of want their children to be better educated so use of the opportunities available in society.

also

this

was

found

Google

to

be

true.

50

parents has a

children. Educated education and they that they can make In the present study

percent

of the Muslim

Status of Muslim Women in India 42°

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Educational Background

43

women whose fathers were ill terate were also illiterate, while only 6 per cent of those whose fathers had’ high school or college education were illiterate.

By contrast, only 4 per cent of

the daughters of illiterate fathers have high school education while 58 per cent of the daughters of high college educated fathers have education equal to The strong cultural bar against higher education

and above school and their own. of women

Thus, we explains why it is only 58 per cent and not higher. see that as the education of father increases, education of the

daughters also increases. In other words, the higher the education of the fathers the higher the education of girls is likely to

be. The X? test shows significant relation well beyond. .02 level and coefficient of contingency (.372) shows there is corre-

lation between the two.

This is clear from the following table. TABLE

2

Respondents’ Education and their Fathers’ Education

Education

Total

Father’s Education

Respondent’s

27

117

Illiterate

High School & College

Middle

Primary

Illiterate

ll

(50.21%) (26°22%) (17°19%)

14 39 62 (26°61%) (37°86%) (21°88%) 22 26 45

Primary Middle

9

il

17

233

Total :

103

9 (18%) 9

124 102

29

66

(6%)

(587%)

(386%) (10°68%) (26°55%)

& College

158

(18%)

(19°32%) (25°24%) (34°38%)

High School

3

64

(100-00%) (100°00%) (100°00%)

50

(100-00%)

450

xX? = 72'786 Df = 9

Table value at ‘01 = 21°666 Cc

=

0372

As far as girl is concerned, her

Google

mother

has

much

influence

44

Status of Muslim

Women in India

on her. In the case of education this influence is very clear. In our study it was found that the educated mother had her daughter also educated. TABLE 3

Respondent's Education and Mother’s Education Respondent's

education

Illiterate

6

High School &

Total

Middle and High

1

158

2

124

(41.48%)

(10.91%)

(3.23%)

(29.40%) 77

(27,27%) 16

(6.45%) 9

107

Middle

Total

aaa an Illiterate Primary 151

Primary

College

Mother’s Education

15

(21.15%)

(29.09%)

29

18

(29.02%)

102

19

66

450

(7.97%)

(32.73%)

(61.30%)

364 (100.00%)

55 (100.00%)

31 (100.00%)

It is clear from the table that as education of the mother increases, the respondent’s education also increases. About 41 per cent

of the

respondents

with

illiterate mothers were illiterate.

Only 3 per cent of the middle school and above educated mothers

allowed their daughters to be illiterate. 19 out of 31 (61 per cent)

middle school and above educated mothers have high school and college educated daughters. The fact that educated men are likely to prefer educated wives was found to be true in the case of our resporidents. It was found from the present

study

that there is a significant relation

between respondents’ and their husbands’ educational following table makes it clear.

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45 Educational Background

46

Status of Muslim Women in India

It is clear from the table that when 19 per cent of the illiterate respondents got illiterate husbands, 6.45 per cent of primary

school educated got illiterate husbands, about 3 per cent of the middle school and above educated women got illiterate husbands. Respondents who were middle school and above educated got husbands who had college education.

The above observation holds in the case of respondents’ fathers and mothers also. It was found that as education of the wife increases that of the husband also increases. TABLE 5 Respondents’

Father’s

education

Fathers’

and Mothers’

Education

Mother’s education

= ——————-——_————. Illiterate Primary

Total

High school

Illiterate Primary Middle High school

and college

Total

229 (98.28%) 82 (79.61%)

35 (54.69%)

2 ( 0.86%) 19

2 ( 0.86%) 2

223

22 (34.38%)

7 (10.94%)

64

20

50

31

450

(18.45%)

18

(36%) 364

(80.89%)

12

(24%) 55

( 1.94%)

\

(40%)

(12.22%)

( 6.89%)

The table shows that 93 per cent fathers who were had illiterate wives. 79.61 per cent of the fathers with

103

illiterate primary

education had illiterate wives. 54.69 per cent of the middle school educated fathers had illiterate wives and only 36 per cent of the

high school and college educated

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fathers had illiterate wives.

20

Educational Background 47 out of 31 (64,52 per cent) high school educated fathers had high

school educated wives. A conclusion which follows from Tables 4 and 5 is that educated women are mostly married to men who

are

at least as much educated as the

women.

Thus, education

taises a woman’s status by giving her an educated husband.

Age of entry to school It is a noteworthy fact that the age at which

the

Muslim

girls

first enter the school is 2 to 3 years older than the minimum age prescribed by Government for admission to school. The minimum

age prescribed for admission to school when the

our respondents were in school was 5.

But in the case

oldest

of

of our

respondents it was found that only 14.38 per cent of them entered the school at the age of 5 to 6, 31 per cent of the Muslim girls

joined the school at the age of 6 to 7, 38.36 per cent at the age

of 7 to’8 and 16.16 per cent at the age of 8 or above. So, we see that a larger portion of the respondents first joined the school at the age of 7to 8. The main reason for the late entrance to school was their emphasis on completing a course of religious

education.

It is interesting to examine who takes initiative in children’s education. Usually at the lower levels, it is the parents who

take initiative in their children’s education. higher education, even when the

But in the case

parents are not interested,

of

the

children may themselves take initiative

and this may be allowed

decide up to what level the girls should

study.

by parents. However, in the case of Muslim girls, the last one has very low probability. In most cases, their fathers usually

To

know

who

took initiative in the case of our respondents’ education after the middle school level, the question was asked of those who are

above middle school. The question was asked only to this group because upto high school level no student is in a position to take the initiative to continue her studies.

It was found

that, of the

66 Muslim women who had studied above the middle school, 83.33 per cent of them said that it was their fathers who took the initiative in their education,

14.88 per cent

brothers and only about 2 per cent said

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said it was their

it was they

themselves

48 Status of Muslim

Women in India

who took the initiative in their studies. From

these we can infer

that as far as the Muslim women are concerned, it is

fathers who decide their level of education minority

their

brothers.

Girls

cannot

they are not given freedom for it.

take

and

with

still their

a small

initiative because

Objectives of Education As regards the objective of education of Muslim women, it seems that.the modern objectives have only a low order of priority for

them. Asked about their parents’ dents, out of 158 women who had level (only those who were beyond the aim of education because at

aim in educating the responeducation above the primary the primary were asked about the primary level no parent

would have any specific aim in educating

children) 8.86 per cent

of them said that their parents did not have any definite aim, 13.29 per cent stated that they aimed at getting a job, 21.52 per cent wanted to improve their status and 56.33 per cent said the aim was to acquire knowledge.

When analysed on the

basis

of

education, educational level of the respondents and the perceived aim of education were found to be related to each other. TABLE 6

Level of Education and Objective of Education Educatian

of

respondents

Objective

Noaim

To acquire knowledge

To get ajob

4 12 Middle (85.71%) (19.05%) School 17 2 High School: and College (14.29%) (80.95%) 21 14 Total

58 (65.17%) 31 (34.83%) 89

(100.00%) (100.00%) (100.007%)

“Note :

Only those who were

beyond

Total

To improve Status

92 18 (52.94%) 66 16 (47.06%) 34.—~—«WS8

(100.007%)

the primary

about their parents’ aim in educating

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ee

were

asked

them because

at

Educational Backgro und

primary level no parent would have any definite

49

aim

in

educating the children. In our sample only 158 respondents were above primary.

Table shows that for the majority of the respondents (56%) education had only one purpose, viz. to acquire knowledge. The second major aim in education was to improve status (22%). Only a very small number (15%) considered education as a means of securing a job. It is interesting to note that 17 out of 21 respondents (81%), who expressed /this view belonged to the

high school and above educated group. Probably, they were deviating from contemporary social norms when they wanted to For the vast use education for getting a job. tion was not intended as qualification for

career.

majority, educaan occupational

Age of the respondents and their ot parents’ objective in educating them were not related to each other, though the’ common

observation was found to be true that “the younger generation of today views education as a direct means to, employment and economic betterment’’ (Ramachandran, 1971:356). When the data was analysed to find out what gain the Muslim

women made from their education, it was found that 53 per cent of them said that their education had’been of no definite use to them, while about 3 per cent said it helped them in acquiring knowledge, 7 per cent in getting a job and 34 per cent said it helped them in improving theic position. The educational level of the respondents and their gain from This is clear education were related to each other significantly.

from the following table.

The above total shows that education has greatly

contributed

to the achievement of the goal, i.e. the higher the education, the higher is the percentage of people who achieved their goal. Compared to 76 per cent of middle school educated women who 23 stated that education was of no definite use to them, only per cent of high school and above women expressed this view. in However, the major positive goal of education had been improving their position (37%).

above’ educated stand

in

sharp

In this

contrast

middle school education (59% against

‘the

21%).

to

of those who aimed at a job through education

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high

those

Nearly

were

school

with

one

and

only

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Educational Background

51

ned with their hope, for education was helpful in securing a job only to 11 persons. Termination of Education We have already seen that of the 450 Muslim women, about 28 per cent have only primary school education, 23 per cent only middle school education, 13 per cent had high school education and only 2 per cent had college education. Thus, we see that except the 2 per cent of college educated women, others had stopped their education at different stages. There may bea number of reasons for discontinuing their studies. These could be financial difficulties, distance to school from home, early marriage, and so on (See Gore 1967:184), 14 per cent of the respondents said they stopped their education because of finan-

cial

difficulties,

10 per cent said

because

the school

was away

from home, 10 per cent said they were forced to discontinue their studies due to early marriage, 7 per cent said they stopped their studies because their community was against girls’ education and

59 per cent said that parents did not think that education was important for Muslim girls. For the Muslim girls’ financial difficulties cannot be a major factor hindering education because

they are given fee concessions by the Government. Hence, the 14 per cent who gave financial difficulties as preventing their studies were economically very backward and they could not provide their children with dresses and food without which they could not go to school. Distance from home could be a good reason because. parents may not send mature girls to a school which is far away from home. It is significant that the majority,

59 percent

said they

stopped

their education

because

their

community

also

parents did not consider education as indispensable or even necessary for a Muslim girl, who was expected to remain at home and look after her husband and children. Early marriage

which isa

common

practice

in the

Muslim

hinders girls from continuing their studies.

Education of Children Children’s education, its type, nature and

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duration,

all

depend

52

Status of Muslim Women in India

on the attitude of their parents. As more and mort parents become aware ofthe usefulness of education in improving their

children’s lot and in providing them with a job, they would like to educate their children. The Muslim community as 4 whole was educationally backward but recently the number of Muslim boys and girls entering schools and colleges is on the increase.

But when compared to boys the number of Muslim girls in educational institutions is still small. When a question, “upto what level would you like to educate

your daughters” was asked to the respondents, about 22 per cent said they want to educate their daughters only upto 4th standard, 45 per cent want them upto S.S.L.C., 16 per cent want to graduate their daughters and 16 per cent said they were ready to educate their daughters as long they are bright in studies.

When the same question was asked about the sons, 4 per cent

said they want to educate their sons only upto primary level, 24 per cent said upto S.S.L.C., 19 per cent upto graduation, 53 per cent said they were ready to educate them as long as they are

bright in studies. The differential treatment to daughters and sons in the matter of education given by Muslim mothers is quite noticeable here. Respondents’ idea of the level of education which they want

to give their daughters and their own educational level are related to each other when 38 per cent of the illiterate respondents

wanted only

to educate

4 percent

of

their daughters

the

respondents

college education wanted to educate

only

who

their

upto

primary level,

had high

daughters

school or

upto

pri-

mary level. On tha other hand, while only about 5 per cent of illiterate respondents wanted to educate their daughters upto the dagree level, 58 per cent of the women who had high school or college education wanted to educate their daughters upto graduation. The coefficient of contingency (0.4713) shows there is correlation between respondents’ education and their idea of the In level of education they propose to give to their daughters.

general, we can say that as the educational level of the mothers increases, the level of education they like to give their daughters

also increases.

Age of the respondent and the level of education their daughters are related to each other.

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desired

for

Edueationat Background

53

It is clear from the study that when only 9 per cent of the women who belong to the age group 25 and below wanted to give their daughters education only upto primary level, 56 per cent of them in the age group 46 and above wanted to educate their daughters only upto primary level. It is evident that Muslim women who belong to the younger age group, i.e., upto

30 years, like to provide their daughters

with

higher education

while the respondents in the older age group wanted to limit their daughters’ education to the primary level. We have already seen the aim of the respondents’ parents in educating their daughters. Now we shall examine the respondents’ aim in educating their daughters. Of the 131 women respondents who answered the question, ‘what is your aim in educating your daughters,’ 27 per cent said it was to enable them to

acquire knowledge, 58 per cent said it was to help them to get a

job and 14 per cent said their aim in educating their daughters was to improve their (daughters’) position. It is noteworthy that at least a small percentage of the Muslim women is aware of th¢

relation between Education and Social Status.

In the present study many respondents said they stopped their

studies because of financial difficulties in spite of the financial a.sistance and fee concessions provided by the Government. They seemed to be unaware of these facilities. When asked whether they were aware of the financial help and fee concessions

ded by the Government they were

unaware

to their community,

of it.

This

unawaraness

25

of

provi-

per cent said educational

concessions and financial help is closely related to their education but not to their age, income or place of residence. It is found

that as the educational level of the respondents increases their awareness of these programmes of the Government also increases. To the 25 per cent who were unaware of the provisions, a question, “If you had known of these facilities, would you have availed of them,” was asked and then 98 per cent of them said

“yes”. One of the major roles of a mother is to supervise her children’s education at home and to give necessary encouragement to them. It will be interesting to find out whether the Muslim mother (who was against her daughter's education two or three decades ago) pay attention to her childrens’ education at

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54

Status of Muslim Women in India

home.

Out of 444 women who had children, 20 per

cent

said

they never pay attention to their childrens’ education, 37 per cent said they occasionally do so, 34 per cent said they often supervise and 7.88 per cent said they always do so.

The Muslim women’s level of education and paying attention to their children’s aducation are related to each othar significantly. It is found that 35 per cent of the respondents who were illiterate said they never pay any attention to their children’s education at home, while among the high school and college educated

group 38 per cent always and 27 per cent often pay attention

to

this matter. So it was found that the higher the education of the Muslim mothers, the greater the attention they give to their

children’s education at home.

Education as a status raising factor

We have already seen that when asked about their aim in educating themselves, a minority (21%) said that their aim was to improve their position. And their aim in educating their daughters also to a small extent was to improve their Position. To find out more clearly whether the respondents think of edu-

cation as a status raising factor,

was asked the specific question,

“Do you think that higher education will give women a better position in society ?”’ 87 per cent agreed and the rest disagreed. Their opinion in this matter and their educational level are rela-

ted to each other as is shown by Table 8.

It is clear from Table 8 that 87 percent of the Tespondents agreed that education was a status improving factor for women,

In this, 84 per cent

of the illiterates

also

However, it is also to be noted that of those

were in agreement, who disagreed

43

per cent (26 out of 60) belonged to the illiterate group. The respondents’ attitude in this respect largely correspond

with their actual behaviour.

The comparatively higher educated

women in the neighbourhood were

respected.

differential treatment in social gatherings

sought on several matters.

and

They were

their

advice

given was

The income, place of residence or age of the respondents has not

influenced them in their opinion that education raises the status.

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Educational Background TABLE

55

8

Education and Attitude Towards Education as a Factor in Raising Social Status Education

Attitude

Total

-——_ —-———_——— = —————-— Agree

Illiterate

Disagree

132

Primary

102

2 (3.03%)

66

(17.45%)

(22.55%)

450

60

(13.33%)

(86.677) =

2

(7.26%)

390

X?

124

(92.74%) 64 (96.97%)

Total :

9

(16.46%)

719

High School & College

158

(83.54%) 115

Middle

26

19.897

Df = 3 Table

C

value at .01=11.341

= 0.2007

Co-education

The Muslim community is one where the seclusion of women including purdah

system was once strictly

observed.

dered it as a sin to show themselves off to strangers.

They

This

consi-

dis-

couraged them from attending schools. The wealthy families arranged private tuitions in their own homes for teaching their

women Quran and other religious books. With the disappearance of purdah system this condition gradually number of Muslim girls going to schools

mixed schools is on the increase.

remains.

But

changed. and even

Now the attending

the old attitude still

In our study out of 156 respondents who attended the classes above the primary level, 75 per cent had attended mixed schools and 25 per cent had studied in girls schools. However, they showed a positive preference for separate girls‘ schools for their

daughters’ education.

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55

Status of Muslim

Women in India

As religious instruction is being given in mixed classes, the respondents did not mind boys and girls studying together at the

primary level.

At the upper primary level

23

per cent

of the

respondents said they prefer girls’ schools for their daughters, 38 per cent said they had no preference and 39 per cent said they

prefer mixed schools. At the high school level, 81 per cent said they prefer girls’ schools, 16 per cent had no preference and 3 per cent prefecred mixed schools. In the case of college educa-

tion, 95 per cent of the mothers preferred women’s college, 3 per cent said they had no preference and about 2 per cent said mixed colleges. As girls grow up, the mothers want them to be segregated from boys and this is most clearly pronounced at the college level. The preference of the large majority of respondents for girls’ schools and colleges at the high school and college level

makes it clear that thay even now like to maintain seclusion girls, if possible.

of

When a separate question was asked whether co-education was desirable or not, 53 per cent said it is undesirable. The respondents’ education and their attitude towards co-education were then examined to find out whether they were other. The following Table gives the results. TABLE

9

Education and Attitude Towards Education Illiterate Primary

Middle High Schools & College Total :

related

158

56

124

(44.31%)

(54.84%) 57 (55.88%) 25 (37.87%)

(45.16%) 45 (44.12%) 41 (92.13%)

238

212

(52.89%)

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Total

70

(55.69%) 68

each

Co-education

Attitude =—————————————————— . Undesirable Desirable 88

to

(47.11%)

102 66 450

Educational Background

57

The Table shows that out of 158 illiterate women 88 (55.69%) said co-education is undesirable while 25 out of 66 (37.87%) high school or college educatad women said it is undesirable. So also when only. 44 per cent of the illiterate said co-education is

desirable, 62 per cent of the high school and college educated group said so, So, it is quite evident that as educational level

increases,

the

respondents

are

more

favourable

towards

co-

education. Place of residence, age and family income of the respondents do not show any influence on this attitude when education is controlled, The foregoing sections clearly show that the vast

majority

of

the respondents still prefer to keep the girls segregated when they

become mature. This certainly influences the educational career of Muslim girls. In our sample there were only 15 per cent who had gone beyond the upper primary level and most of them

attended girls’ schools/colleges. It is possible that if separate girls’ schools were available a larger proportion of Muslim girls would have availed of the educational opportunities provided by the State. Itis thus seen that the practice of seclusion still stands in the way of educational progress of Muslim women. Religious education One of the main things Islam commands a Muslim to do is to teach children the principles of their religion. So, religious education is an imperative for a Muslim, man

religious precepts have strictly observed by all this religious command their children in Koran of India. “n.d”: 311).

or

woman.

‘‘These

never been overruled by custom and are classes of Mohammedans in India. It is that compels Mohammedans to instruct and other religious books” (Government Religious education is

an

essential

part

of the education to a Muslim and in many cases his education was limited to religious instruction only. “It was one of the standing orders of the institution (Madrasai Azam)

that “Musal-

order that

the

man students should be first instructed they

might

become

acquainted

Islamism before they are instructed would

give

them

the

means

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on

religious

in those

of livelihood”

with

subjects

in

laws

of

(Government

of

languages

which

58

Status of Muslim

Women in India

Madras, 1894: 4). As far as the Muslim main and sometimes the only education recently was religious instruction. In the found that out of 450 women 158 (35%)

girls are concerned the they were getting till present study, it was had only religious edu-

cation and no formal school education what-so-ever. Without exception, all the respondents had religious education. About 35 per cent of the respondents said they studied religion for 1 to 3 years, 60 per cent said they had religious education for 4 to 6 years and 5 per

cent

had

it for

7to9

mean number of years spent on religious education

pondents was 4.12.

years.

The

by the res-

Educational level of the respondents and the duration of their religious education are related, as is shown by the following Table. TABLE

10

Education and Duration of Religious Religious

Education

Education

education

=$£——_—————_—___—_—_—_—_————__

1—3 years

Illiterate

52

4—6 years 94

71-9 years

12

158

7

124

4

102

1

66

(33.33%)

(34.81%)

( 50% )

(12.82%)

(35.93%)

(29.16%)

(30.77%)

(18.52%)

(16.67%)

College

(23.08%)

(10.74%)

(4.17%)

Total :

156 (100.00%)

270 (100.00%)

24 (100.00%)

Primary

20

Middle

48

Hig School &

36

97

50

29

Total

450

X? = 80.639 Df =

6

Table value at .01=16.812

C=0.389

Tt is clear from the Table that 23 per cent of the respondents who had religious education for only 1 to 3 years were high school and above educated. Only 4 per cent who had religious instruction for 7 to 9 years had high school and above education.

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Educational Background So it is seen that as the duration of religious education the educational level of the respondents decreases.

59

increases

Conclusion Islam has never ordained against the education

of women.

On

the contrary, the Prophet has emphatically proclaimed that education should be one of the four important responsibilities of a father towards his children, both male and female. The vast majority of our respondents know this. Yet only 15 per cent of them had high school and above education; 35 per cent were

illiterate and another 27 per cent had only primary school education. Inaccessibility to schools has not been a valid reason for

this low educational level as this was stated only by 10 per cent of the respondents. Moreover, there is no significant rural-urban

difference in the pattern of educational achievement. Education of parents seems to be significantly related

educational ievel of the

respondents.

The

higher

the

to the

parents’

education the higher was the educational level of the respondent.

This holds true of the father and mother separately also. However this does not explain why both parents (especially mothers) and the respondents have only lower levels of education.

Income seems to be another factor with which the education of

the respondents is significantly related.

Again,

though

the

X?

test supports the relationship between these two variables, it does

not explain why their general level of education is low. Education at the primary level was always free and Muslims (especially their women) were provided with fee concessigns and scholar-

ships at higher levels at least since 50 years ago when the oldest of our respondents were in the school going age. The govern-

ment’s policy has been aimed at giving the benefits of education to the lower income groups and to equip all with minimum pri-

mary education. It is true that some of our respondents or their parents were unaware of these educational concessions given by the State. But in the sample, their size was only 25 per cent. As a matter of fact, the number of respondents who gave financial reasons for their lack of education was only 14 per cent. On the other hand, many stated that women’s education dered unnecessary by society and this kept low the

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was consinumber of

60

Status of Muslims Women in India

respondents going to school

and

proceeding

to

higher

classes.

The real reason for the low level of education among our respondents seems to be the lack of meaningful role for the educated women in Muslim society. This is clear from the response to our question on the objective of their education. The majority (56%) said it was for acquiring knowledge. Only 13 per cent These thought that it was a means of securing employment.

support our hypothesis that many of the modern feminine roles are out of conformity with the feminine roles of traditional Islamic society. Hence education which is necessary for perform-

ing these modern roles is devalued.

The This is further supported by the following findings. average age at which the respondent entered school was 7 whereas the age prescribed by the state was 5. Our respondents “had to undergo compulsory religious education for periods ranging Hence, if the from 3 to 5 years (in exceptional cases 9 years).

Madrasas

and

state schools

had

working

concurrent

children will have to postpone their school education until In that case the completion of the religious instruction.

hours,

after after

late entry they had to leave the school in 3 or 4 years, as after maturity no Muslim girl was expected to be in school. If on the

other hand the Madrasas were working outside the state school hours, a girl attending both of them will have to strain hard and

Consequently,

this would result in poor performance at school.

she will either fail in classes or will drop out from school, as education in these schools is considered less important than educaIt may also be pointed out that all our tion in the Madrasas. respondents had undergone religious instruction and all but2

per cent favoured it for Muslim girls. When we examine the gain from

education

employment function was very limited.

we

As stated

find

that

above,

its

only

11 out of 21 who pursued education from the point of view of securing a job achieved this objective. On the other hand, while

only 22 per cent of respondents thought of it as a status raising agency, actually 37 per cent found that it had raised their status. Both job and higher status went

to

the

higher

educated

ones

(High School and above). One other objective of education was to secure a good husband. Though this was stated by only 3 per cent of respondents, actually it was realized by many more.

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Educational Background

61

This is evident from the finding that there is a strong positive correlation between the education of the respondents and that of their husbands. The higher the education of the respondent,

the higher the education of her husband.

This

ported by data from the respondents’ parents.

is further

sup-

In both cases, a

better educated wife is able to secure a better educated husband. Another achievement of education was to give the respondent a better appreciation of its modern potentials so as to encourage

them to send their daughters to schools. It was found that the higher the respondents’ education, the greater is her ambition regarding her daughters’ education. Education further enabled

the respondents to supervise and assist in their children’s studies at home. The modern roles of education such as employment,

status, etc., have weighed much more in their minds in educating their daughters than in their own education. Thus, while

only 13 per cent wanted employment for themselves through education 58 per cent aimed at it in sending their daughters to school. So also while the percentage of those who considered mere acquisition of knowledge as the purpose of their education

was 56, the number stating the same objective for their daughters’ education fell to 27 per cent.

Further the vast majority of the respondents

that education was an agency which will

women.

improve

(75%) the

thought

status

of

In this attitude, only 60 out of 450 respondents had any

disagreement and 26 out of these (43%) were illiterate.

Education also enabled respondents to take a liberal attitude

towards

co-education.

While

the

majority

of the respondents

preferred separate girls’ school for their daughters

at the

school and college levels, the educated ones had no objection

send their daughters to mixed schools and colleges.

high to

The above findings indicate clearly that education has definitely contributed to improve the status of Muslim women.

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Digitized byGoogle

Original from

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

Marriage and Family

(a) Marriage

Marriage is a very important event in the life of a woman. Wifehood and motherhood make her life complete. For both she has to depend on man. Unlike among

the Hindus,

marriage among

the-Huslims is a contract and not a sacrament. Muslim marriage ‘Nikah’. According to the is known by the Arabic word Mohammedan

and legalisation

Law the main

of children.

objective

The

of Nikah is procreation

elements in Muslim marriage

are (1) a proposal made by or on behalf of the parties, (2) an acceptance of the proposal, in the presence and hearing of two male or one male and two female witnesses, and (3) settlement of Dower.

The Mohammedan Law provides certain restrictions and prohiA Muslim male can bitions as far as a marriage is concerned. have as many as four wives but a woman cannot have more than

one husband at a time.

A

Muslim

woman

cannot

marry

a

‘Kithabian’ or non-Muslim while a male can marry a ‘Kithabia’ (Kithabia is a woman/man who believes in a religion revealed through a book (other than the Quran) but not in idolatry or

fire worship).

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64

Status of Muslim Women in India

(i) Age at Marriage Tn Islam no age limit is fixed for marriage. It was often seen that quite young girls may be legally married but a girl is handed over to the husband only after attaining puberty. According to Bevan Jones (1941 : 91) it is usual for orthodox Muslims to

claim that child marriage, though not enjoined in the

the Traditions, is part of the very fabric of Islam and

Quran

they

or

con-

tend that the custom is sanctioned by the practice of Mohammed who himself married a child wife... Mohammed Ali (1936 : 618) in interpreting the rules of marriage in the Quran points out that the Holy Book does speak of an age of marriage which it identi-

fies with the of marriage with the full of marriage

age of majority. Thus, it will be seen and the age of maturity of intellect age or the age of majority...it is clear is the age of majority, when a person

exercising his choice in the matter of sexual

According to the Mohammedan

Law,

that the age are identified that the age is capable of

liking or disliking.

majority

is attained

on

puberty and even though she is under fifteen years of age a girl is free to marry after attaining ‘puberty. But in India, after the passing of Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929, it is a punishable offence to promote or permit the solemnisation of a marriage of a bridegroom under 18 years of age and a bride under 15 years. In spite of this, early marriage has continued to be wide-spread among the Muslim community.

In this study

of 450

Muslim

women

36.22 per cent were

married below 15 years, 58.32 per cent were married between

to 19 years and 5.56 per cent between 20 to 24

years

and

15

none

above 24 years. When analysed on the basis of educational level of the respondents, it was found that age at marriage and the educational level of the respondents were significantly related.

This is shown in Table 11. The Table shows that out of 158 women who are illiterate 46 per cent were married below 15 years, 51 per cent between 15 and 19 years and only about 3 per

cent

were

married

between

17 per cent were

married

between

the age of 20'to 24. Out of 66 high school and above educated women only 14 per cent were married below 15 years, about 70

per cent between 15 and 19;

20 and 24.

The relationship between

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educational

level

of the

|

Marriage and Family

65

TABLE 11 Education and Age at First Marriage Age at

Education

Ae

10 ta 14

literate

15 10 19

20 to 24

(46.20%)

(51.27%)

(2.53%)

(35.48%)

(62.1%)

(2.41%)

B

Primary

81

44

Middle

7

37 (36.27%) 9 (13.64%)

High School & College

58 (56.86%) 46 (69.70%)

262 (58.22%)

163 (36.22%)

Total : X?

=

first marria

frst marrige

Total

4

158

3

124

7 ( 6.87%) 11 (16.67%) 25 ( 5.56%)

102 66 450

36.589

Df = 6 Table value at ‘01=16.812

Though the observed frequencies are less than 5

Note :

in

cells the expected frequencies were above 7 in each

So the conditions of X* are satisfied.

respondents and their age at marriage is significant well

.O1 level.

The present age of the

clear.

age

cell.

beyond

It is thus evident from the above Table that as educa-

tion increases, age at marriage also increases. their

two

at first

respondents

marriage

also

significantly.

found

Table

to influence

12

It is clear from Table 12 that child marriage continues

makes to

it

the

present day as is shown by 16 per cent of the respondents in the age group 15-19 and 18 per cent of the respondents in the age group 20-24 being married below 15. It is also significant to note that many respondents (7 per cent) still want to marry off their children below age 15. The practice of early marriage persists to the present day in spite of the law against it. This naturally affects educational opportunities as will be shown shortly. The correlation coefficient (—0.25) is found to be

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66

Status of Muslim Women in India

TABLE 12

Present Age and Age at First Marriage Present age

15-19 20 - 24 25 - 29 30 - 34

35 - 39 40 - 44 45-49 50 - 54 Total

Age at first marriage

———-——- —_-—__—_-—-—_—_—_ —

10-14

15-19

(16.16%)

(83.84%)

(18.18%)

(71.21%)

(10.61%)

(26.37%)

(63.74%)

( 9.89%)

(38.29%) 32 (44.44%)

(56.39%) 38 (52.78%)

( 5.32%) 2 ( 2.78%)

(49.15%)

(49.16%)

( 1.69%)

(52.94%)

(44.12%)

( 2.94%)

(56.25%)

(43.75%)

3

12

24

36

29 18

9

163

(36.22%)

20 - 24

15

47

58

53

29 15

7

7

66

9

91

5

94

72

1

59

1

34

( 5.56%)

16 450

=33

With standard deviation

=8.75

With standarad deviation Correlation coefficient

=2.90 =0.25

Mean age of age at marriage

highly significant.

18

25

(58.22%)

Mean age of Present age

_

_-

262

Totai

=15.50

Thus, it may be noted that as the present age

decreases the age at first marriage increases.

Though the influence of place of residence, i.e. rural-urban, on

age

at marriage

is significant

at .05 level, when education is

controlled, the significance disappears. Education thus emerges as the only factor explaining age at marriage. Asked about their attitude towards early marriage (i.e. marriage before attaining age 15) of Muslim girls, 70 per cent of

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Marriage the respondents said it is undesirable.

When

and Family analysed

67

on

the

basis of education, the relationship between educational level of the respondents and their attitude towards early marriage was found significant far beyond the ‘01 level.

TABLE 13

Education and Attitude Towards EducationIlliterate

Attitude Desirable

Undesirable

65

Primary

High School & College Total :

xe Df

83

124

(33.07%) 24 (23.53%) 4 ( 6.06%)

(66.93%) 78 (16.47%) 62 (93.94%)

(29.78%) = 29.83 = 3

Table value at .01

102 66

316

450

(70.22%) =

Total 158

(58.86%)

134



93

(41.14%) 4l

Middle

Early Marriage

11.341

Table 13 shows that when out of 158 Muslim women who are illiterate, 41 per cent said early marriage is desirable, only 6 per

cent out of 66 women who are high school and

above

educated

said so. It is evident from this that as the educational level of the respondent increases the number of those who are against early marriage also increases. In other words, the higher the educational level the higher the number of Muslim women who are against early marriage. When asked whether early marriage prevents women from getting themselves educated, only about 11 per cent of them said ‘no’ while 89 per cent said ‘yes’. 94 per cent of those who have high school or college education belong to this latter group.

Hence, it is clear

that

respondents who are highly

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educated

68

Status of Muslim Woman in India

strongly believe that early marriage

themselves educated.

prevents

girls from

getting

When the above question was analysed on the basis of age of the respondent, it was found that age does not have much in-

fluence on this attitude. rence.

(X?=10.359,

The X? test shows no

Df=5.

Table

value

significant diffe-

at

.01=15.086,

at

.05=11.07). ‘ Similarly, rural-urban difference also was found to

be insignificant (X? value 2.945. df. 1). To the question, ‘at what age would you like to get your daughters married’, the majority of the respondents preferred to get their daughters married between 16 and 20. There was no relation between age of the respondent and preferred age of marriage of their daughters. However, the educational level of the respondents has a very great influence on their Tesponse to

this question. There is a positive

relationship

between

education

of

respondent and preferred age of marriage of their daughters; ie., the higher the education the higher the preferred age and vice versa. This is most clearly pronounced in the case of respondents with high school and college education. Education, thus has a significant influence in postponing the age at

marriage.

(ii) Arrangement of Marriage Inthe

Muslim

community

the

arrangement

of marriage

always remained the responsibility of the parents

that of the father.

alone,

The bride and bridegroom used to

voice in selecting their

partner.

In this the bride

has

mainly

have

is ina

no

more

handicapped position. While of late, the male gained some freedom to choose his spouse, in the case of the female ‘it is to be doubted whether more than a very few had any degree of personal

independence to the extent of being able to choose husbands for themselves...’ (Levy Reuben, 1957 : 93). In Muslim countries, marriages are still arranged

by

the parents

but

there

is some

allowance for consultation with the bride. In India also there is some change in this practice as a result of education and increasing economic independence of women.

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Marriage and Family

69

From the present study, it was found that 74 per ‘cent of the

Muslim women’s marriage were arranged by their parents with25.11 per cent said that their opinion was out their consent.

per

ascertained when their marriages were arranged. Only 0.89 cent had love marriage with their parents’ consent.. Education aud

Education

-

TABLE 14 Arrangement of Marriage Arrangement of marriage

By parents without party’s

By parents with party’s

consent

Illiterate

consent

124

Primary

College Total

x? Df

158

29

124

19

102

35

66

(21.52%)

(75.61%)

(23.39%)

(81.37%)

(18.63%)

(46.96%) 333

(53.04%) 117

83

High School &

34

(78.48%) 95

Middle

Total

31

(4%)

(28%)

=27.643 =

450

Table value at .01=11.341 It is clear from the Table that 78 per cent of the illiterates have

their marriage arranged by parents without their consent, while among those with high school and college education only 47 per

cent had their marriages arranged

without

X? test reveals relation between education

their consent.

and

arrangement

The

of

marriage far beyond the .01 level. So we may say that as the educational level increases, the girls are being increasingly con-

sulted in the choice of their husbands. In other words, the higher the education the greater the freedom they were given in marriage. It was found from the data collected that only 0.89 per cent (4) of the sample had love marriage and that also with

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70

Status of Muslim

Women in India

their parents’ consent.

This group being

a negligible

number,

was combined with the group viz. ‘arranged by parrents with party’s consent’, to facilitate X? test.

The place of residence of the respondents has some infiuence

on the arrangement of their marriage.

78 per cent

of women

residing in urban areas were married without seeking

their con-

who are coming from rural areas were married without asking their opinion while only about 70 per cent of those who are sent. However, when education was controlled, the difference disappeared. Income of the respondents did not have any

influence here. When asked ‘what type of marriage do you prefer, 35 per cent of the respondents said they prefer marriage arranged by parents without their consent while 65 percent preferred marriage arranged by parents with their consent. Education and preference to the type of marriage are significantly related. While 54 per cent of illiterates preferred marriages arranged by parents with their consent, about 63 per cent with primary education, 66 per cent with middle school education and 92 per cent with high is clear that women prefer sent. The X? cated Muslim

school and college education preferred it. So it education is an important factor which makes marriages arranged by parents but with their contest also reveals the relationship. The more eduwomen consider it important that the girl should

be consulted when the marriage is fixed.

This

supports

Gore’s

(1968 ; 208) finding that “education turns out to be a major differentiating factor in the attitudes of resoondents to whether marriage should be arranged by elders alone or by them in

consultation with the individual concerned”. To a question, ‘if your

daughter

selects

her

own

husband,

will you approve of it’, 82 per cent said they will never approve of it, while 18 per cent said they will not have any objection provided other conditions are agreeable to them. Though the choosing their increases, their pronounced in

vast majority (82%) is opposed to their daughters own husbands, as education of the respondent attitude also changes and the change is more the case of the highly educated group. While about

87 per cent of the illiterate women said they will never approve only 60.38 per cent of the high school and college educated

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Marriage and Family

71

respondents said so. It seems that educated mothers would approve if their daughters select their husbands under conditions which are acceptable to them while uneducated mothers could

not even think of it. In other words, the higher the education of the mother the lesser wiil be her objection to her daughter’s selection of her husband. However, even the educated Muslim

woman is not prepared to give a freehand to her daughter in the matter of spouse selection. (iv) Polygamy Polygamy or plurality of wives

among Muslims.

has

been

a common

practice

Among the Indian Muslims it became popular

during the period of Muslim rule when the royal families used to have harems and enjoyed plurality of wives from both Muslim and Hindu communities. The Quran has sanctioned polygamy

but it restricted the maximum number of contemporaneous wives to four; it has also laid down certain conditions regarding the treatment of wives.

According

to

Ameer

Ali

(1922 : 229),

was worthy of note that the clause in the Quran which

it

contains

the permission to contract four contemporaneous marriages is immediately followed by a sentence which cuts down the significance of the preceeding passage to its normal and legitimate dimensions. The passage runs thus, “you may marry two, three or four wives, but not more, but if you cannot deal equitably and justly with all, you shall marry only one.” In many Muslim countries, especially in the rural community,

polygamy is still prevalent. In India, it is steadily decreasing among the Muslims especially in the urban and educated section of the population. Syed Ameer Ali (1922 : 232) points out that “the feeling against polygamy is becoming a strong social,

a moral,

conviction

and

many

extraneous

combination with this growing feeling

are

circumstances

tending

to

the custom from among the Indian,Mussalmans.” From the present study also the same fact emerges.

sample of Muslim women,

if not

root

in

out

In our

only 15 (3.337%) had husbands with a

plurality of wives and even here, nobody had more than two wives. Another noteworthy thing is that they belong to the upper age group and also lower income group. The majority

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72:

Status of Muslim Women in India

came from the rural population. None of them was educated above the primary level. This supports the earlier finding of Woodsmal] (1960 : 307) that “‘the decline of polygamy in the younger and middle generation is evident. In the urban lower

classes polygamy persists in spite of adverse economic conditions. In rural life, polygamy is prevelant, as it has always been.”

Respondents whose husbands had wives other than themselves

are of the opinion that this practice has

When asked whether

any

other

family had more than one wife,

lowered

members

11 per cent

their

of the

of the

position.

respondents’ respondents

answered in the affirmative. On further enquiry it was found that the majority of them (70%) belonged to the age group 50 and above and also to the illiterate group. When

asked

‘what was their attitude to polygamy’,

99.6 per

cent said they were against it (as a matter of fact only 2 respon-

dents were in favour of it). It may be pointed out that since the number of cases of polygamy is very small and belongs to

one age group and education group, no inference is possible except that polygamy stil! exists as a legacy of the past and contributes to lower the status of woman. (iv) Dowry System In India, the Muslim community is as much engulfed dowry system as the Hindus and Christians. However,

be pointed

system.

out

that

Islam

never

mentions

about

In our study we found that about 61 per cent

by the it may

the dowry

of the

respon-

dents had given dowry either in the form of cash or property. Here education does not seem to have much influence. This may be due to the fact that (1) dowry system has become a common practice among the Muslim so that in spite of the fact that the girl is educated enough, the parents have to give dowry for her marriage, (2) when a girl is educated, naturally her parents will look for an educated groom for her and in the Muslim community the number of educated men is small. In that case the

demand on the educated groom will be

high,

and

consequently

also the amount of dowry. This agrees with Hooja’s (1969 : 25) finding that ‘among these communities, the value of the boy in

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Marriage and Family the

marriage

education.”

market

enhances

with

the

advances

73

in his

The majority of the respondents (94.09%) think that they

will

have togive dowry for their daughters’ marriage. To a question ‘whether dowry system is desirable or not’, 42.89 per cent of the

respondents said it is desirable, 50 per cent said it is undesirable and 7.11 per cent said dowry system should be prohibited. The respondents’ education was found to be related to their attitude towards dowry system. TABLE

15

Education and Attitude Towards Dowry Education

i Desirable

Illiterate

80

(50.63%)

Primary

63 (50.81%) 36 (35.29%) 14 (21.21%)

Middle High School & College Total

193

(42.89%)



Attitude

Undesirable 72

(45.57%)

Total

a

Should be prohibited 6

(3.80%)

55 6 (44.35%) (4.84%) 63 3 (61.76%) = (2.95%) 35 17 (53.03%) — (25.76%) 225

(50%

)

When about 51 percent of the illiterate is desirable only 21 per cent of the high cated respondents said so. On the other of the illiterate respondents said dowry is

32

(7.11%)

158

124 102 66 450

women said dowry is school or college eduhand when 49 per cent undesirable and is to

be prohibited, about 79 per cent of the women who had high school or college education were of the same opinion, So, it is quite evident that as educational level of the respondents increases, the number of women who consider dowry as undesirable also increases.

In other words, the higher

the educntion

the more the women who are against dowry system. Education,

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74

Status of Muslim Women in India

thus, has a positive effect in making women system is an evil and as such undesirable.

feel

that dowry

Income and age of the respondents did not show any influence on their attitude towards dowry system. (vi) Mehr or Dower

Mehr is a sum of money or other property which the wife is entitled to receive from the husband in consideration of the marriage.

One

of

the

most

important

aspects

of

Muslim

marriage is the payment of mehr or dower which is an indispensable thing without which no marriage is legally or socially recognized.

As far as

the

Muslim

community

is concerned,

mehr is considered to be the fundamental right of a woman,

Beside being a mark of respect, the payment of dower imposes certain restrictions concerning divorce. According to V.B. Ram (1968 : 130) “‘it is generally supposed that the main object

of dower under Mohammedan Law is to wife against the arbitrary powers of

the right of divorce.”

the

offer protection to the

husband in excercising

The amount of dower is not a fixed one. It depends on the social and economic status of the parties concerned. The dower that we now-a-days find among this community, to a large extent, is called “deferred dower”. (When the amount of dower is

unspecified it is called

defferred

dower).

It is paid on

termi-

nation of marriage bonds by death or divorce. If the dower is not paid to the wife till death, then her heirs are entitled to it (Singh, 1972: 131). Generally, dower is fixed at the time of

marriage though the amount may not be paid at that time.

In our study 59.78 percent of the Muslim women had received mehr at the time of their marriage. Those who did not receive stated that the amount was already fixed at the time of marriage but Jater they—husband and wife—compromised on it. But if the marriage relationship ended by divorce or

death it.

of the

husband,

they

(respondents)

In all cases the amount involved

was more

were

entitled

to

symbolic rather

than substantial and was not sufficient to maintain a widow with children.

Certainly it had been several

“dowry which many of them had to pay.

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times

smaller than the

It may be pointed out

Marriage and Family

75

that both the ritualisation of mehr and the universalisation of dowry have the effect of reducing the status of Muslim women. Here the problem of getttng suitable husband

compels the family to compromise on them.

for the daughter

(viii) Divorce

In Muslim community, one major factor which affects the status of women is the practice of divorce. Under Muslim Personal Law, divorce is an easy matter for the husband as he enjoys an unlimited freedom to divorce his wife at his own will. In the

words of Kapadia (1958 : 189) “the dominion of the man over his wife is further asserted by the fact that he is permitted to

divorce his wife at his own pleasure and without justifying his action.” Mohammedan Law permits the husband to divorce his wife without any misbehaviour on her part and without assigning any cause. This results in conferring on women an inferior

status compared

to

their

counterparts

in

other

communities.

According to Kapadia (1958 : 192) ‘a system where the wife has continually hanging over her head the apprehension of divorce cannot but prove an abiding source of uneasiness to her.” On the other hand, the woman is not given such freedom.

She is not free to remarry talaq (divorce).

She

has

immediately

to

even after pronouncing

wait for three menstural

in order to confirm whether she is pregnant or not.

periods

The period

of waiting is called iddat. According to Babu Ram (1968:83) iddat is the waiting for a difinite period which is incumbent on

the woman after dissolution of a valid marriage or an irregular marriage which has been confirmed by consummation. During this period of waiting the husband can resume his marital rights with his divorced wife and then she becomes his wife again without any further ceremony to validate marriage. Though the Prophet had given unlimited freedom to the man, he was not in favour of free divorce, as his aim was the stability

of family. He pronounced talag to be the most detestabte of all permitted things before God; for it prevented conjugal

happiness and interfered with the proper bringing up of children (Ameer Ali, 1922:244),

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76

Status of Muslim Women in India The prophet also gave to

the

woman

the ‘right of obtaining

a separation on reasonable grounds’. But in practice this was not so easy. In India, after the passage of the ‘Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939’, woman also got the «-ght to divorce her husband on the following grounds : (1) husband

unheared of for four years, (2) failing to pay maintenance for four years, (3) sentenced to imprisonment

failing to perform

impotency,

material

(6) suffering

from

disease, (7) wife being minor and (8) husband’s cruelty,

1965:12).

leprosy

marriage

not

(9) other grounds, e.g.,

women

seven

years, (4)

for three years,

insanity,

In spite of all these restrictions,

freedom compared to

for

obligations

or

(5)

venereal

consummated,

talaq (Thribuvan,

Muslim men still enjoy much

as

far

as

divorce

is concerned.

According to Levy Reuben, (1957:121) “no such privilege is accorded to the wife, an inequality which has had the con-

sequence of gravely lowering the status of womenin

In the present

study,

about 22 per cent

had in their family women who

don’t have any. These

were

of the respondents

divorced while 78 per cent

had

who

respondents

in the family, are of the opinion that divorce women’s position. In modern times many women think that women also should be

seeking

divorce

without

valid

Islam.”

divorced women

has lowered those

in the Muslim community given freedom like men in

cause.

When

women should be given freedom in seeking

asked

divorce,

‘whether

50.89

per

cent of them agreed. The influence of education in their attitude towards this is significant. When 44 per cent of the

illiterate

the view that women should also be their husbands, 56 per cent of the cated were of the same opinion. On 56 per cent of the illiterate women

respondents

agreed

with

given freedom to divorce high school and above eduthe other hand when about were in disagreement, only

44 per cent of the high school and above educated women disagceed. So, it is quite clear that as education increases, the number of respondents, who said women should also be given

opseiym in seeking divorce, also increases.

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Marriage and Family

77

Age of the respondents and place of residence do not have any influance on their attitude towards woman’s freedom of

divorce. It seems that the spirit behind

this attitude is the urge

to have equality with men on a very personal matter which affects both parties to the marriage equally. Certainly educa,

tion has been a key factor in developing this attitude. Though the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 has given Muslim women the right to divorce their husbands, a majority of them are unaware of this legislation. In our study it was found that 78.57 per cent of the Muslim women were unaware of the law. Educational level of the respondent and her awareness of the law are mutually related. As education of respondents increases their awareness of the presence of the Muslim Marriage Dissolution Act, also increases, This awareness is bound to give greater confidence to woman in her dealings with husband. (viii) Widow Remarriage The Quran and Tradition favour widow remarriage.

According

to Islam, it is the responsibility of a widow’s parents to remarry her just like the marriage of a virgin daughter. But in practice

it is not so. “The law permitting widows to remarry was too clear to be overlooked; yet until recent times, such marriages

were effectively prevented, specially among upper classes, by the

cultivation of the sentiment

that

widowhood

being

the will of

God, it was reprehensible for the widow and a disgrace for the family that she should marry again.” (The Gazetteer of India, 1965:477).

In our sample 18.67 per cent of the respondents had widows In their families who are remarried. This forms 12 per cent of the total widows in the sample families. 40.20 per cent of the respondents unconditionally approved of widow remarriage,

34 per eent approved it provided there are no children in the first marriage or when they are very poor to look after them-

selves. 25.78 per cent disapproved of widow marriage under any circumtances.

The influenee of education

tude towards widow

of the

respondents

on their atti-

marriage is not very significant.

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However,

78

Status of Muslim Women in India

at the high school and

in the opinion remarriage.

of

the

college

level there is a pronounced shift

respondents

in

favour

of

widow

Conclusion It will be seen from the foregoing pages that there are several traditional customs and practices centering round marriage which are in vogue today and which give Muslim women an inferior status in society. Thus, early marriage, absence of a voice in the selection of husband, ritualisation of the Mehr,

polygamy

and

arbitrary

divorce

by

men,

attitude

towards

widows including widow remarriage, all these exist even today, though ina diminished form. A new custom, viz., payment of dowry, which has no basis in the Quran or Tradition also

has formed an important place in the Islamic society. Early marriage is on the decline but there are several cases

of respondents even in the below 15 (in spite

of the

present

law

decade

who

were

married

against it). Also a good number

of respondents still believe that early marriage is desirable. However, the vast majority of the respondents agree that early marriage prevents girls from continuing their education as

considered

undesirable

ones) to go out of home.

for

mature

girls (especially

As Muslim

school education. This in turn

satisfied

results

that education

women either to come out of traditional to cast

doubt

on

the

validity

more educated than uneducated

of

entry

with

into school primary

has enabled

Muslim

to her

the

ways of life or at least

traditional practices.

women

at

just

in denying

advantages accruing from education.

However, it is found

married

girls go to school only

a late age, the combined effect of these (late

and early marriage) is to make her

it is

prefer

Thus,

late marriage,

a voice in decision relating to choice of husband, equal opportu-

nity with men for divorce and

remarriage

more educated women are against

cation has also enabled

respondents

of widows.

polygamy

and dowry.

So also Edu-

to be aware of an impor-

tant piece of legislation raising their status, viz., the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act.

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Marriage and Family

79

These laid ample proof to support our hypotheses that education has contributed to the social status of Muslim women and that the practice of early marriage prevents Muslim women from continuing their education. (b) Family According to Elliot and Merril (1961:226), the role of women in society is however still defined largely in their functions as

wife and mother. This is most true of Muslim women. The number of working women in the Muslim community is much less compared to other communities. For the majority of Muslim women, family is their only world. She spends a major

portion of her time looking after her family

and children. Her

economic position, emotional security and social position, everything is accorded to her by her family, so much so that her role and functions in the family determine her position in society.

In this section, therefore, we shall examine the role ascribed to Muslim woman and actually performed by her in the present day. (i)

Type of Family

Two types of families are generally seen among the Muslims

in

Kerala, i.c., the joint family and the nuclear family. In the present study, it was found that about 94 per cent of the respondents came from joint families.

When

analysed on the basis of

place of residence, it is found that place of residence and type of original family are related, i.e., the

families were located in the rural

vast

areas.

majority

The

of the joint

Muslim

family,

both nuclear and joint, is partriarchal. As far as the present family of the respondents is concerned, a majority, i.c., about 58 per cent live in nuclear families, the rest live in joint families. Respondents’ age and education do not have any influence on the present type of their family. But

respondents’ husbands’ education and place of residence and the

present family type are related to each other.

More respondents

with higher educated husbands live in nuclear families.

more nuclear famities are located in urban

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areas,

The

So also

direct

80

Status of Mustim Women in India

relationsbip between nuclear families and urban residence comes through education as educated husbands move to towns to take up employments and establish families there. (ii)

Position of Women

in the Family

In Islam, the husband is given a superior position in the family.

“The husband is superior to his wife; men have a degree above them”, says the Quran (2.228); a woman is worth half a man in

matters concerning ransom for murder, inheritance and giving of

evidence. Muslim Law exposes the wife to the continual threat of repudiation with no need to justify it, or of the marriage of the husband to a new, additional wife, whose presence can

greatly modify the nature of the family life” (Gaudefory, 1950 :

132-33).

Islam has prescribed certain

duties

for a wife

They are: residence in the house of her husband,

him in his reasonable orders and performing her

to perform.

obedience

marital

to

func-

tions whenever required by the husband at reasonable-times and

places with due regard to health strict conjugal fidelity

and

and

refraining

decency and

from

undue

observing

familiarity

with strangers and all unnecessary appearance in public(Thomas,

1964 ; 245).

It has been already said that as far as the Muslim women

concerned, family remains

their

whether they agreed with

the

main

field of work

and

,

are

the

majority stay at home and do not go out for work. When asked statement

that

stay at home and perform the roles as wife than go outside and work’, the majority

‘women

should

and mother rather of the respondents

(64.67%) agreed while the rest disagreed. The educational level of the respondent and her attitude do not seem to be related to each other, except at the high school and college level where 71

per cent disagreed with the statement. It seems that only a heavy doze education has succeeded in making women to deviate

from a long established belief.

Family income of the respondent and her attitude towards the

above mentioned statement also other.

Google

seems

to be

related

to each

Marriage and Family

81

At the very low income group (Below 351) more than 2/3rd of

members agree with the statement. This means that even though this is the group which needs to work outside to supplement the family income, it is much more against employment than other groups. As a matter of fact it is the upper income group that wants to work. It is clear that the motive to work for this group does not come from an economic need but from the urge to increase status through work.

(iii)

Decision making

One of the indicators of status of women

she is given a share in the decision-making

to Edmund

in

family

is whether

process.

According

Dehistrom (1967 : 189) “one of the most

important

objectives of the feminist movement has been to remove various

external barriers to equally influence and participate in decision-

making by women in the family, in working tions and in public life.”

life,

We therefore wanted

to

in organizaknow

much decision-making power a Muslim woman enjoys.

how

To find

out their attitude on women’s right to be consulted on family decisions we asked “‘do you agree that the wife should have a

say in important matters regarding the family” ? The response was : 93.56 per cent agreed and only 6.44 per cent disagreed.

This shows that the vast majority of Muslim women do want a voice in the family decision-making process. Educational level

of the respondent and her attitude in this regard are significantly related to each other. To find out whether the wives are being consulted in actual household decision-making by their husbands, asked,

whether

they

do

participate

in

respondents were

important

decisions

regarding children’s schooling, career, and marriage, preparation of family budget, and buying property, clothes and household and

articles.

For the convenience of analysis these

divided into two schooling,

choice

categories, of

their

the career

first and

one

areas.

includes

their marriage

were

children’s and the

second one includes preparation of family budget, buying property and buying clothes and household articles. On each of these two sets, questions were asked and the answers were scored.

on a four point scale as follows :

Google

82

Status of Muslim Women in India wrNneo

Never consulted

Occasionally consulted.

Frequently consulted Always consulted

They were then grouped together into 2 sets, the first 3 forming one set and the remaining 3 forming another set. Our rationale in this grouping was that the first one related to the more

important area of moulding the next generation and the

to matters of finance.

For each respondent, the answers

the three questions were added up and averaged

and

second to

all

this was

taken to be the score of the interviewee on the particular group of questions. They were then analysed in terms of education of respondents, family income, and place of residence.

On analysis it was found that education of the respondent and her actual role in decision-making process are related to each

other.

This is clear from the following Table. TABLE

16

Education and Role in Decision-Making Concerning Childrens—Schooling, Career and Marriage. Consultation by Husband

Education

Never

(0-2) 43

Illiterate

(27.22%)

Primary

25

Middle High school

& College Total

x?

Df

Occasionally Frequently

(3-5)

(6-8)

58

37

(36.71%)

(23.42%)

46

44

Always

(9 & above) 20

158

9

124

(12.65%)

(35.48%) 50 (49.02%)

(7.26%) 11 (10.79%)

(13.64%) | (24.24%) (45.45%) 94 144 161 (20.89%) ( 32% ) (35.78%) =28.309

(16.67%)

(20.16%) 17 (16.67%) 9

(37.10%) 24 (23.52%) 16

=9

Table value at .01 =21.666

=0.2432

Cc

Google

30

Total

ll

51 (11.33%)

102 66

450

Marriage and Family

83

The Table shows that when 27 per cent of the illiterate respondents were never consulted in the above mentioned matters by their husbands, only about 13

above educated were

per cent of the high

school and

never consulted. Also when only about 13

per cent of the illiterate women were always consulted, about 17 per cent of the high school and college educated were consulted always. From this we can say that as educational level of the

respondents

increases,

their consultation

by their husbands in

decision-making process regarding children’s schooling, career and marriage also increases. In other words, the higher the education of the respondents, the more they will be consulted in

the decision-making process.

Consultation by husbands in decision-making process concerning preparation of family budget, and buying property, clothes and household articles also are significantly related to the respon-

dents’ level of education.

TABLE 17 Education and Role in Decision-Making Concerning Family Budget, Buying Property, Clothes and Articles Education

Consultation Never

(0-2)

IHiterate Primary Middle

32

Total :

(3-5)

Frequently

23

(6-8) 86

Always

(9 & above) 77

158

20

124

(20.35%)

(14.56%)

(54.44%)

(10.65%)

(13.71%)

(11.29%)

(58.87%)

(16.13%)

17 4

( 3.92%) High School 2 & College (3.03%)

-

Occasionally

55

(12.22%)

x?=90.444

14

15 (14.71%) 2 ( 3.03%)

54

(12%)

Df=9

Table value at .01=21.666 C=0.4042

Google

73

Total

48 35 102 (47.06%) (34.31%) 21 41 31.83%) (62.11%) 66

228

(50.67%)

113450

(25,11%)

84

Status of Muslim

Women in India

It is clear from the Table that when 20 per cent of the illiterate respondents were consulted by their husbands in these matters, only 3 pet cent were not consulted in the high school and above: educated group. So also when only about 11 per cent of the illiterate women were consulted always 62 per cent of the

high school and college educated women

itis

quite

evident

that

as the

education

were

consulted.

of the

So

respondents

increases their consultation by their husbands in making decisions

concerning the preparation of family budget, buying of property, clothes and house hold articles, also increases.

When the coefficient of contingency (c) of these two Tables. were computed and compared it was found that the value of ‘C’ in the case of the second category of decisions is higher than in the case of the first category. This means that husbands are not as much ready to share with their wives the decision-making

function in the more vital areas of areas.

However, there is

life as

adequate

in the less

proof

that

the

important

higher the

education of respondents, the more frequent is their consultation with them on family decision making.

husbands”

(iv) Treatment of Children From

the

community

present

study

does not attach

Respondents in our

sample

equal treatment in general

it

was

found

equal value

are

willing

family

daughters. But when it comes to the offspring, like education,

that

to sons

to grant

matters

to matters choice of

the

Muslim

and daughters.

more or

to both

sons

less

and

of vital importance career, choice ofa

partner in marriage, the daughters are discriminated and sons favoured. In our study we found that 70 per cent of the respondents do not intend to educate their daughters to the same extent as their sons. Education, of course, has a sobering effect

on this attitude, but only at the very highest level. For only among the high school and college educated respondents do we find a definite shift in favour of equal education. Age of the respondents and their place of residence do not have

any

influence

on

their

education to sons and daughters.

Google

attitude

towards

giving

equal.

Marriage and Family

Similarly, in choosing a career also,

ing to give equal freedom to

sonand

85

respondents are not will-

daughter.

“do you treat your sons and daughters equally

To a question,

in allowing tiem

to choose their own career’, 86 per cent said they do not while 14 per cent said they do. Here when education is controlled, age

and place of residence do not have any influence on this attitude. In the matter of choice of partner 99 per cent of the Muslim women said they will not give equal

freedom

to

their sons and

daughters. Only 0.79 per cent said they will. It is seen from the above three cases that respondents were willing to give more freedom of choice to sons than to daughters. This indicates that ‘they still conform to the traditional values of the community.

(v) Family Planning ‘The Quran and the Hadiths have not mentioned anything in favour of or against birth control. But Mohammed Ali (1936: 653-654) points out that birth control is considered by the Prophet as the nullification of the very object of marrige.

‘The Quran has referred to this subject in two places and ‘on both occasions it speaks of birth control as the actual fiquidation of children: “And do not slay your children for fear of poverty. We give them sustenance and yourselves too”.

Ali further states that, one form of birth control called ‘axl’ as spoken of in certain Hadith as not being forbidden by the

Prophet.

In fact it could not

be permitted

unless

the wife was

unfit or unable to bear children, so that conception would ‘endanger her life or impair her health. This is the only reason which can justify birth control. This has created doubts among

the followers of Islam and they keep away from adopting family

planning methods. But we cannot say that Islam in its basic principle is against birth control, because it has placed great emphasis on the proper care and welfare of children. The teligious leaders both in Arab and in non-Arab countries have

supported the family planning movement and issued ‘Fatwas’ (religious writs) testifying that family planning was in conformity with the tenets of Islam (Sirajuddin, 1970:27).

Google

86

Status of Muslim Women in India

The Muslims in India have a high fertility rate than the Hindus. “Driver points out that in central India a Muslim

woman gives birth to an average of 4.6

given by an average Hindu Hate 1966 : 122).

be due

age, compared

the

to the

have a high fecundity rate. that the Muslim

(quoted

as

against 4.5

by Chandrakala

This high fertility rate of Muslim women may

to the fact that

younger

woman”

children

population

Muslim

Hindus

From

the

increased

girlsare and

1971

married

at a

consequently they

Census

it is seen

by 33.9 per cent

during

1961-71 while the Hindu population increased by only 23.7 per cent. In the present study when the respondents were asked ‘do you think it right for a couple

to limit

the number

of children’

61 per cent said ‘no’ and the rest said it is ‘right’. The education

of the respondent has a very good influence on their attitude to-

wards limiting the family size.

TABLE

18

Education and Attitude Towards Family Size Education Mlliterate Primary

Attitude

ig) School High 00! &

College Total

Total

No

Yes

120

37

157

40

123

(76.43%)

(23.57%)

(67.48)

(32.52%) 47

83

Midat iddle

Limiting

en)

(23.08%) 273 (61.07%)

wo

50

(76.92%) 170 (38.93%)

102 65

447

Note : 3 respondents did not answer the question. The Table shows that when only 24 per cent of the women who are illiterate said family limitation is ‘right’ about 77 per cent of them who had high school or college education said ‘no’. It is

Google

Marriage and Family

thus

clear that

as education

following family

limitation

higher the education,

increases

also

the greater

the number

increases.

87

of women.

In other words, the

the willingness

to limit the

family size. When analysed on the basis of age, it was found that age has

some influence on attitude towards family

planning.

The higher

age group thinks that it is not right to limit the family size. This may be due to the fact that because of their education the younger women think that there is nothing wrong in limiting the

family size.

When asked ‘why you think it is right/not right to limit the number of children’, 98 per cent of the women who wanted to limit family size stated that it is to give children more oppor-

tunities in life and to give them better care. Without exception, all those who think it is not right to limit children said so be-

cause they believed that children are given by God and it is a sin

to limit them against God’s will. Education

TABLE

19

and Practice of Birth Control Methods Practice

Education Illiterate

Primary

No

Yes

35

2

(94.59%) 32

( 5.41%) 8

36 (76.59%) 35 ( 70% )

11 (23.41%) 15 ( 30% )

( 80% )

Middle High School & College Total

was

asked

40 47 50

33

(81.03%) question

37

( 20% )

141

Note : This

Total

174

(18.97%) only

to

those

who

thought

family planning is necessary (174) as the investigator thought it won’t be appropriate to ask about the practice of family

planning

unnecessary.

Google

methods

to those

who

think it is

88

Status of Muslim

Women in India

As far as the actual practice of birth control is concerned, of the 181 respondents who said it is right to limit the number of

children, 81 per cent are not practising any birth control methods

while about 19 per cent are using at least one of them. This answer was analysed on the basis of education, family income and age of the respondents. Of these, family income and age do not show any relation with the practice of birth control methods. But educational level of the respondent and the practice are

related to each other. It is clear from

number of women increasing.

the

Table

practising

When asked what

is the

that as

birth

ideal

should have, 60 per cent of the

education

control

number

increases,

methods

the

is also

of children a couple

respondents said that

they can-

not say that because children are given by God, 35 per cent the ideal numcer of children for a couple to have was 2 or 3 and 4 per cent said it was 4.

Education of the resondents and their conception of ideal number of children a couple should have are related to each other. As education of the respondent increases the number of women who said

2 or 3 also

the ideal

increases.

number of children for a couple

is

And as education increases, their belief

that children are given by God also decreases drastically. Conclusion

The

Muslim

women

are

still tradition

bound.

The

vast

majority of them are steeped in traditional mores and seem to be quite content with their domestic isolation. For, 65 per cent

of our respondents feel that

_ Perform outside.

the role of mother 70 per cent think

women

and

that sons

should stay at home and

wife only rather than work are more

valuable

than

daughters and that in the matter of education, choice of career and selection of spouse, daughters should not be given

as much freedom as sons.

61 per cent

think that

children

are

given by God and therefore couples should not limit family size. However, education has been able to effect a change in this attitude toa considerable extent. Thus, the majority of

Google

Marriage and Family

89

those who feel that women should

stay at home rather than go

respondents

in

out for work were either uneducated or less educated. Conversely, the majority of those who opposed this view came from the higher educated group. Though 94 per cent of the desired

equal

shares

family

when it came to actual pretice, this was few. Even here, in the vital areas of

children’s

education,

career

and

dicision

enjoyed decision

marriage,

the

making,

by only very making, like

amount

of

decision-making power enjoyed was very much less than in routine and day to day decision making. Education was found to have a significant relationship both in desire to have a share in decision making and actually getting a share in decision making.

The higher the

eduational

level,

the higher was

desire and actual share in decision making. In a similar way, it was the highly educated who gave the same imortance to

sons

and

the

respondents

daughters and

con-

sidered that no discrimination should be shown in the matter of educating sons and daughters. This group of respondents was also in favour of allowing equal freedom to sons and daughters in the matter of choosing a career

spouse.

In the

attitude

towards

family

size

and

and selecting the

family

limitation,

education was found to have very close relationship. Though the majority think that children are given by God, those who disagreed with this view showed the influence of education in

their attitude. The same was the case with those who favoured and actually used birth control methods.

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Digitized byGoogle

Original from

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

6 Economic and Occupational Background

(i)

Economic Position

The Muslim community in India is educationally and economically backward compared to other communities. In Kerala,

they are officially considered as “Backward Community” for purposes of special consideration by the Government (e.g. edu-

cational concessions, job reservation, etc.). The main occupations. of the Muslims are trade and commerce and their economic and social condition is generally very poor. According to the

Kumara Pillai Commission (1965), of the total Muslim population of 30,27,639 in Kerala (1961 census), over 29,17,000 are:

included in the lower income group, i.e. belonging to communities which are in the list of socially and educationally backward classes. Although there area few cases of wealthy persons. among

the members

Muslim as a class

of this

appears

community,

speaking

to be very backward, both

generally,

educa-

tionally and economically (Kumara Pillai Commission, 1965:5). In the case of our Muslim women respondents, this truth was amply revealed in spite of the fact that our sample was taken

from

the

educationally

more

progressive

population.

majority of our respondents belong to the lower

Google

The

income group.

92

Status of Muslim

Out of the

Women in India

total

of 450

151

and 350,

women,

38.89

per cent had

a family

16.44 per cent had between

351-550,

income below Rs. 150 per month, 25.78 per cent had an income between Rs.

10.17 per cent

belong to the

group

who had

an

Rs.551-750 and 8.22 per cent had an income above

month.

income

of

Rs. 750 per

The same phenomenon was seen in the case of the 150

men respondents (see Chapter 8). In the case

of the respondents, their husbands were

the main

breadwinners in their family. Usually the education of a man and his income are always found to be related to each other. In the persent study also the husband’s education and the respondent’s family income are related to each other toa great extent.

Gi)

Property Rights

A woman’s

status to a large

extent

is determined

by her right

to hold property and to dispose it of according to her will. According to Venkatarayappa (1966:48), the perfect and com-

lete individuality of the person of the woman is manifested in the most striking manner in the matter of property. About inheritance Islam says, “to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females”, This is indicative of the inferior position

given to the Muslim woman regarding inheritance.

A

is given only half the share

to Lakshmi

of the son.

According

daughter

N. Menon (1972:43) ‘‘the Muslim inheritance law is equally unjust to women : a woman is entitled to only 1/3rd of the share

in the

property

left

by

her

husband if there

and only 1/8th if there are children.

are no children,

If the husband’s

alive she and ber children are not entitled ancestral property when her husband dies.”

father

is

to any share in the

Though Islam has not given woman equal share in the matter

of property inheritance, according to Islamic law the woman possesses absolute right over the property which she owns and she can dispose it of according to her will and pleasure, without referring toanybody. The Quran says, “And do not covet that by which God has

made

have the benefit of what

some of

they

earn and

benefit of what they earn” (George

Google

you

excel others;

women

men shall

shall have the

Sale, “n. d”: 32).

Economic and Occupational Background

93.

An important factor which gives women higher status in some societies is matriliny, i.e. succession through the female line, and matriarch, i.e., women’s authority in the famlly. Here the higher status which women enjoy is the result of the preferential rights they enjoyed there. According to B.M. Garg (1960:27)

these preferential

rights

refer to a succession of family titles or

names and inheritance of property. This becomes amply clear when we study the position of women ina matrilineal society as we find in Muslim in the Laccadive Islands, the Yao. of Southern Nyasaland and the Minangkabau of Central Sumatra. Leela Dube in her book Matriliny and Islam

(1969:27-40) observes the special status of women in Kalpeni in

the Laccadive Islands, She says, birth in the “tarawad”, the common matrilineal unit, gives a member the tight to a share in the tarawad property and this right passes through female members; a male member has only usufructuary rights over the

tarawad property. The oldest woman in the tarawad enjoys a special status. She is highly respected and even in a dispersed

tarawad no ceremony should take place in any of group without informing and inviting her. She

the domestic is consulted.

by the Karanavar (oldest male member) on all important matters. The oldest woman in a property group also enjoys a. special position. She has an effective voice in the economic sphere, particularly in the productive activities of women.

the oldest women in the Pira, which is a constituent

Even

part of the

property group, weilds special authority over its members and is respected and heard by the younger members. As with the Karanavar, so also with the oldest woman, where the tarawad,

the property group and

Pira coincide;

she has

it was

that

maximum hold

over the members of the matrilineal group. This higher or superior status enjoyed by the women in Kalpeni Island, which is predominantly a Muslim society, is the result of the matrilineal system prevalent there.

In the present

women who

own

study,

houses,

had

found

Property,

there were several

and

other

forms of

wealth etc. in their names. 6.22 per cent owned landed property

in their names, 44 per cent owned houses and 6,22 per cent owned other forms of property. This is indicative of the fact that the Muslims abide by the Quranic law regarding property

Google

94

Status of Muslim Women in India

and

husbands

let wives

own

their

property.

To

find

out

whether the possession of personal property raises the status of the respondents, their decision making power in family matters

was analysed. Possession of personal property was examined in terms of the two areas of decision making in the family already described in

the earlier chaper. It is clear from Table 20 that of those who possessed property, 16 per cent were never consulted by their husbands on making decisions

regarding

children’s

while in the case of those never consulted.

On

schooling,

without

career and marriage,

property

the other hand,

26

per cent were

12 per cent of those who

possessed property were always consulted by their husbands on the above matters, while 10 per cent of those who were without property were always consulted. The x’ test shows that at .01 level, the hypothesis Ownership

by

of

relationship

between

TABLE 20. of Persougl Property

property owner-

and

Consultation

Husbands in Making Decisions Regarding Children’s Schooling, Career and Marriage.

Consultation Never Occasionally

Frequently Always Total :

Ownership of Property

Yes

No

36

58

(15.93%)

(25.89%)

(33.63%) 86 (38.05%) 28 (12.39%)

(30.36%) 75 (33 48%) 23 (10.27%)

226 (50.22%)

224 (49.78%)

16

x2 Df Table value at .0 05

68

OO

Total a4 144

161 51 450

95

Economic and Occupational Background ship and

share

in

same trend is seen in

TABLE

household

and

clothes

property,

buying

family budget, articles.

on preparation of

decision

of

case

the

The

to be rejected.

has

making

decision

21

Consultation Ownership of Personal Property and by Husbands in Making Decisions Regarding Preparation of Family Budget, Buying Property, .Clothes and Household Articles Ownership of property

i Yes

Consultation

No

24

Never

112

228

(51.33%)

(50%)

(25.66%)

(24.55%)

116

113

55

58

450

224

226

(49.78%)

(50.22%) x? Df

=10.39 =3

.05

=7.815

Table 21 shows that of those who

11 per cent were-never consulted of

54

(11.61%)

:

Table value at 0.1=11.341

preparation

26

(12.39%)

Frequently

Total

55

(14.84%)

28

Always

31

(10.62%)

Occasionally

Total

family budget,

possessed property, about

on matters

relating to the clothes

buying property,

household articles while in the case of those not owning perty, 14 per cent were never consulted on these matters.

percentage

of

those who

were

occasionally,

when

the

always consulted, is almost the

and non-owners,

two cases, it was

However,

found

Google

same for both X?

that at the 0.1

and

proThe

frequently or

property owners

test applied

level the

to the

hypothesis

96.

Status of Muslim

Women. in India

of relationship between personal property per se and voice in actual decision making has to be rejected. It seems that possession of personal property per se does not

entitle the respondent to be consulted by her husband as Tables 20 and 21 show. We have earlier shown that it is rather

education that is women’s

the

major

determining

dependence on men on most areas

factor. of

Because

of

life, the contri-

bution of property to the alteration of this situation is only marginal. It seems that for enjoying any benefit out of their property including sale, Muslim women have to depend upon

their husbands.

Gii) Occupational

Position

The economic position of women has a bearing on their psychological and social conditions. Being economically independent not only improves her position both in the family and

outside, but gives her mental satisfaction that she is also contri-

buting to the family income. The main way to attain economic independence for a woman is to work and earn. By working out side home she not only earns her livelihood but also supplements. the family income. According to Smith (1946 : 80) “if women are taking part in productive activities of society, they would soon have that economic independence without which they

cannot be truly free and with which they will necessarily find freedom”. Employment and the economic independence which it brings provide women with a better position, social recogni-

i

i ‘

tion, and hence a feeling of women started to work and

achievement and earn, they have

better status in relation to men.

securitiy. begun to

After enjoy

Islam is not against women working in such areas which are suitable for them. ‘She can earn money and own property just as man can do and

therefore she may,

if she feels the need,

follow any profession’ (Ahemmad Ali, 1936 : 643). This means that under certain conditions when it is necessary for a

woman

to work and earn,

Islam allows her to do so. In spite of

this the number of working

women

is smaller when compared to working

nities.

Google

in the

Muslim

comunity

women in other commu-

Economic and Occupational Background

97

The fact that the number of Muslim working women is much less when compared to their counterparts in other communities becomes more clear when we examine the working population among the respondents in the present study. Of the

total sample only 32 (7.11%) were working, of which 26 (81.25%) were in the teaching profession, 4 (12.50%) in working and (6.25%) were factory workers. When we anlysed the background of these 32 working women it was found that 31 were high school or college educated and the remaining had middle school education. Educa-

tion

is

thus

found

to

be a

prerequisite

for

employment.

Incidentally. both teaching and nursing require good amount of education. It was also found that these working women belong to the age group 20-30. This means that women’s employment became popular only during the last ten years.

84.26 per cent of these working women had husbands who were high school or above educated and the rest 15.74 per cent had middle school educated husbands. None had illiterate husbands. Place of residence of the respondents and their working are not related to each other,

To find out

outside

the motive

for these

home, they were asked,

women

to accept

a job

‘why did you take up the job’

for which 31 of them said it is because

of economic

pressure

and only one said it was to supplement family income. When asked ‘whether they were free to use their income as they liked’, 96 per cent said that they hand over their salary to their

husbands. 89.87 per cent of these working population thought that their job—their additional role as working women—had helped them to raise their status both inside the home and outside.

To

find

out whether

these working women are consulted

by their husbands in the decision-making process in the family.

their responses were analysed separately on the basis of consultation in decision-making. Then it was found that 95.56 Per cent were being consulted by their husbands in the family

decision-making process. In rural areas it was found that a number of women were working as coollies, as maid servants and in fields. Another source of making money for these women in the rural areas was the preparation and sale of eatables. Age did not have any influence

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98

Status of Muslim Women in India

in this matter. All of these women belonged to the lowest income group, i.e., below

also.

Rs. 150

Since their work

per month

and they

was of a casual

nature

were

considered for analysis of data on occupation. In these jobs are not helpful in raising anybody’s status.

Since the number

of working

very small, we have not been able

nces based on occupation.

We

women

to

therefore

questions relating to their attitude to

a worker, Since Islamic tradition expects and men to go out and work,

draw

we

asked

find out whether this belief still prevails ‘is it the responsibility of the men alone

not

any

case

in our sample

was

meaningful

infere-

woman’s

role as

asked supplementary

Muslim

women

illiterate

this was

to remain at home

another

question

to

today. When asked, to work and support

the family’, 68 per cent answered “yes”. This again shows that the vast majority of the Muslim women do not want to TABLE

22

Education and Attitude towards Considering

as the

Sole Breadwinner Altitude

Education

Agree

Illiterate

122

Primary

High School

and College

Total

37

151

34

124

32.83%)

(25% )

(29.41%) 72 (23.53%)

(23.61%) 30 (20.83%)

90

Middle

Disagree

22

44

(7.19%)

(33.56%)

306

144

( 68% ) x?

=44,141

Cc

=0.2988

Df =3 Table value at .01=11.341

Google

Total

( 32% )

102 44 450

Economic and Occupational Background

99

take up occupations and are content with their roles as home ‘maker, child bearer and child rearer. Since these traditional ‘oles do

not

uneducated.

‘and attitude.

require

In turn,

any

education,

this

Muslim

reinforces

their

women

remain

traditional

beliefs

However, in their response to the above question the influence

‘of education is clearly pronounced as Table 22 shows. It is clear from the Table that while about 40 per cent of the Muslim women who think that man is the sole breadwinner in the family were illiterate, only 7 per cent were high

school

and

So it is evident that as education increases, the

per-

college educated. While only who disagreed were illiterate, educated.

25 per cent of the respondents about 31 percent were highly

‘centage of women who think it is the responsibility of man alone to earn and support the family, decreases. It may be pointed

out that as in several other instances already shown, the influence of education is visible only at the high school and above level. Family income of the respondents and their attitude on man’s

responsibility to earn and maintain the family were found to

be

related. 74 per cent of the respondents who had a monthly income of below Rs. 150 said that men are the sole breadwinner in the

famlly, while only 53 per cent

of the women

income of Rs. 550 and above said so.

who

had

family

On the other hand,

when

conly 26 per cent of the lowest income group disagreed with the above statement, 47 per cent of the highest income group disgreed -with the statement that men are to be the only breadwinner in the

family. So it is evident from this that as income of the respon-dent increases the percentage of women who agreed that men .are to be the sole breadwinner, decreases.

When the coefficient of contingency (c) of these two Tables, i.e.

influence of education and family income, on the attitude towards

‘considering

compared,

man

as the

sole

breadwinner,

was computed and

the ‘c’ value for the first one, i.e. respondent’s

educa-

tion, was found to be higher (c value for the first Table is 0°2988 and that for the second Table is 0°1626).

So it is clear

that

it is

education much more than family income that influenced women in this matter.

Google

100

Status of Muslim

Women in India

It has already been stated that economic independence impro~

ves the status of women. women

are

not

aware

As

a matter

of fact many

of this fact, which

seems

lack of education and lack of exposure to the world family.

due

Lack of education makes them believe in the

Muslin»

to

their

outside the

traditionak

Islamic ideal of women being economically dependent on men. Lack of opportunity to go out for work makes them confined to their own homes. In the present study we asked our respondents

whether economic independence gives women a higher status.

was

then

found

that

32 per cent

It

of the respondents disagreed

with the statement. It was seen that the majority of those who disagreed are from the lower educated groups. The fact that

education of the respondents and

their agreement/disagreement

to the statement are related to each other significantly

by the following Table.

TABLE 23 Education and Attitude towards

is shown.

Economic Indepen~

dence as giving Women higher Status

Education

Attitude

OT

Disagree

Illiterate

—_SOSTottall’ Agree

65 (41.14%)

93 (58.86%)

(25.00%) 41 (40.20%)

(75.00%) 61 (59.80%)

College

(12.12%)

(78,88%)

Total

145 (32.22%)

305 (67.78%)

Primary

32

Middle High school &

8

93

58

158

124 102. 66

453

x®=23°824 Df=2 Table value at ‘01 =11°341 The Table shows that while 41 per cent of the iHiterate respondents did not agree that economic independence gives women.

Google

Economic and Occupational Background

101

za higher status, only 12 per cent from the high school and college educated group disagreed. When only about 69 per cent of the ‘illiterate women agreed, 88 per cent high school and above educated agreed that economic

status.

So it is

quite

all

two of the

independence

clear

that

gives

as

education

women

endorsed

women

higher

increases,

the

number of women who thought that economic independence gives women a better status also increases. We have stated that but

working

the

view

that

employment has raised their status. All the working women were educated. Education thus gives women a wider spectrum of the attributes contributing to women’s status.

Conclusion Though Islam does not

contain

anything which discriminates

-women in the economic sphere, institutional and cultural factors result in the economic inequality of women in the Muslim ‘community. They exist even today. The Muslim Law of Inheritance gives a daughter

entitlement to

only half of the share

than a son inherits. The Muslim widow is treated in a residual manner in the matter of inheriting her husband’s property.

Even though the Quranic injunction that women should have complete freedom over the use and disposal of her personal property, the dependence of a woman on man in all other areas makes this right more nominal than real.

In our

study this was

not found to improve her position in the family (i.e. vis-a-vis her husband) in matters of dicision making. Traditionally Muslim women are not expected to go out of their home and 32 women

take

upa

(7%) who were

They came from

the lower

job.

In our

employed.

income

‘supplement their family income.

sample, there are only

They

group

were

all educated.

and took up jobs to

Women from the upper income

group, even though they are very well educated, have actually come forward to take up a job though more than other income group they expressed a desire to take up {obviously to raise their status) as seen earlier. Most of

respondents (68%) know that employment

not any jobs our

contributes to econo-

mic independence which in turn would raise their status in society. Yet 65 per cent do not want to work. 68 per cent still

Google

102

Status of Muslim Women in India

think that it maintain the mic necessity found to be

is the responsibility of men alone to work andi family. Only education coupled with the econoto take up a job to supplement family income was capable of breaking the tradition regarding work.

However, education holds the key to status as only education can qualify a person for a modern job and only a modern job.

would contribute to status. Education has been responsible

for

changing

many

of the

traditional beliefs but education itself is put at a discount as the

traditional women’s role of remaining at home and looking after home and children does not require any education. Actually, this acts as a vicious circle. Lack of education not only perpetuates traditional beliefs but keeps her isolated and insulated in the home, deprives her

of the

opportunity

to get

employment

and thereby to get out of home and out of tradition to taise her status. All these support our hypothesis that absence of socially defined occupational roles for Muslim women detracts them from the importance of education as a tool for achieving: occupational skills.

d oh

| i

i

Google

7 Political and Social Background

(a)

POLITICAL BACKGROUND

1.

Women

and Politics

Political freedom just as economic independence, is another important factor, which gives women a better status. The

political condition of a nation has its own impact on the status of women. There wasa time when women were considered

unsuitable for any type of political activity and when they were denied the right of participation in the political process.

Recently, however, people have begun to realise that a nation will not prosper without the active participation and contribution of women. According to Krishna Hutheesing (1944:21),

“Gf a nation is to be developed on the right lines to enable it to achieve something, its women must share the burden of

planning

and

shaping

its destiny

side

by side

sharing the rough side of life as well as

the

with the men,

smooth.

Again, if

we wish to achieve rapid and effective progress and to maintain a status of equality

definite

country.”

In this

role and

context,

with

cannot it may

other

be left out be

Muslim women entering politics

Google

nations,

stated

women

of the

that

the

must

affairs

in India is small.

have a

of their

proportion

of

This is true

104

Status of Muslim Women in India

of Kerala as

well.

In spite

of Kerala’s

high literacy rate, the

low proportion of Muslim women in political field shows that it is not only education that influences political awareness but also religion which has got much influence in the life ofa

person.

In

the words

of

New York (Bendix and

Saenger,

Lipset,

who conducted

1963:349),

a study in

“differences

in reli-

gion were far more important than educational differences in determining the extent of a person’s political awareness”. The

peculiar

customs

and

traditions

women to move about

free

of Islam

in public.

would

Many Muslim

not

allow

women,

as well as Muslim men, think that politics is not a field for women. The present study was therefore interested in finding out the extent to which Muslim women have been able to break traditional

norms

regarding

political

participation and the role of

education in accelerating this process. Needless ‘to say, participation in the political process of the nation is an indication of political equality. Since most of the Muslim women have TABLE

24.

Education and Attitude towards Politics as Legitimate Field of Activity for Women Response

Education

Disagree

Illiterate

101 (63.92%) 75 (60.48%) 52

Primary Middle High School &

College Total

(50.98%) 22

(33.33%) 250

(55.56%) x?

=27.782

Df

=3

Table value at .01 11.341

Google

Agree

37 (36.08%) 49 (39.52%) 50

(49.02%) 44

(66.67%) 200

(44.44%)

Total 158 124 102 66 450

Political and Social Background

the researcher

not yet crossed the threshold of political activism

had to be content

with

getting

attitudinal

105

response

on

most

political matters. In the present study it was found that the majority of our Tespondents were not interested in active politics. This is shown by their responses to several of our questions. When asked whether politics is a legitimate field for women, 55.56 per cent answered in the negative. The educational level of the respon-

dents and their attitude towards this matter are related other significantly, as shown by the following Table. TABLE

to each

No. 25

Education and Approval of Women Actively Participating in Politics Education

Approval

—_

Disapprove

Approve

100 (63.29%)

58 (36.71%)

(64.52%)

(35.48%)

(57.84%)

(42.16%)

College Total

Illiterate Primary

80

Middle

102

(40.61%)

39

(59.39%)

66

266 (59.11%)

184 (40.89%)

450

-

11.748 3

Table value at .02

From the Table illiterate women

it is clear



11.341

that when only 36 per cent of the

agree with the statement,

the high schoo] and

124

43

27

x? Df

158

44

39

High School &

Total

above

educated

about

respondents

67 per cent of

did

so.

So

higher

the

we find from this Table that as education increases, the number of women who said politics is suitable for women also increases. In

other

words,

the

higher

the

education,

the

number of women who think that politics is suitable for women.

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106

Status of Muslim

Women in India

The X* test shows the relation between these two very significant with 3 degrees of freedom for .01 level of significance. Age of the respondents and attitude towards the above statement are also related to each other. It was found that the than the older

younger generation is more politically motivated

one,

This may be also

politics in

educational

because

to

of their exposure

where they

only place

institutions—the

student

are allowed to go unescorted. The place

of residence

also was found to

of the respondents

influence them in their attitude towards the statement. value also shows the relation (10.894 with 3

The X?

degrees of freedom

beyond .01 level). But when education is controlled the relationship becomes insignificant even at ‘05 level. Education thus emerges as the major determining factor in creating a broader outlook on politics among women.

Previous studies have shown that conservative women are against women’s active participation in politics. In our study when asked, do you approve of women actively participating in politics

including

part

taking

in meetings,

standing

as candi-

dates and canvassing in election, 59.11 per cent of the respondents said they do not approve of it. However, it is noteworthy

that 41 per cent do not find anything wrong in women actively Here also education of the responparticipating in politics.

dents influences them significantly on their attitude. Table 25 makes this clear. Table 25 explains that when 63 per cent of the illiterate respondents disapproved of women participating in politics, about

41 per cent of the high school and above educated did so. On the other hand, while only 37 per cent of the illiterate respondents approved of women participating in politics 59 per cent of the higher educated group approved it. So it is evident that as education increases,

the

approval

of

respondents

towards

women’s participation in politics also increases, though the trend is not clear in the two intermedate groups, viz., primary and middle.

This may be due to the fact that

education is necessary to make

people politically

thus to approve of women’s participation

in it.

a

high doze of

conscious and

It may also be

due to the fact that at the high school and higher levels, students are more exposed to politics than at lower levels.

Google

Political and Social Background

107

Age of the respondents and place of residence were not found to influence them in this respect.

When asked, ‘are you interested in political matters’, 26.97 A per cent of the respondents said they are, to a certain extent. look into the background of these women revealed that they belonged to the younger age and highly educated group. The pattern of relationship is that the higher the educational level of the respondents, the more she is interested in politics. In a community, which believes in the seclusion of women and which prohibts their free movement, the fact that about 27 per

cent of the women show some interest in politics has sidered as a progressive trend.

This

isno

doubt

to be con-

the result of

education among women, which makes them politically conscious and thus evoke in them interest in political matters. (ii)

Voting Behaviour

Political right

means

the

right to vote

government. It is clear from portain of women voters is

election.

and

to hold office in

the election figures that the prosteadily increasing with each

The U. N. Commission, (19th session : 47) on the status of women remarks : “Among the factors mentioned as preventing

the full inplementation of women’s political rights were the lack of political consciousness among women and their apathy and teluctance to exercise their right.” When asked, ‘did you vote in the last election’, 78.89 per cent

of our respondents said ‘yes’ and the indication

of the

increased

political

rest said

‘no’.

participation

This is an

of Muslim

women. It was found that the educational level of the respondents and their voting in the last election are related to each other significantly as shown by Table 26. the

It is clear from illiterate

the

Table that

respondents

voted

while in

only

the

last

57 per cent election,

of

94

percent of the high school and above educated respondents exercised their franchise. In other words, it was found that as education increases, the member of women who voted in the last election also increases. This can be explained by the fact that higher education makes the people more politically

Google

108

Status of Muslim Women in India

conscious and thus make them aware of their right to vote. The age of the respondents and their casting vote in the

dast election are also ound that the

related to each other significantly.

higher the

age of the respondent,

It was

the lesser the

percentage of them who voted in the last election. This is the result of the fact that the younger generation is more politically sconscious than the older generation, mainly due to their education. TABLE Education

and

26

Casting of Vote in the Election

Last

Voting

Education Illiterate Primary

Yes

No

89 (57.06%)

67 (42.94%)

(85.54%) 96 (94.11%)

(14.46%) 6 (5.89%)

(93.93%)

(6.07%)

353 (78.79%)

95 (21.21%)

106

Middle High School &

18

62

College Total

4

Total 156 124

102 69

448

x? =71,138 Df = Table value at .91 =11.341 Cc = 0.3701 Note : Two respondents did not answer the question. The 95 respondents who did not vote in

the last election gave

a variety of reasons for not voting. 41.05 per cent of them stated that they did not vote because they were not at all interested in politics, 35.53 per cent said they did not like to go out in public,

15 per cent

said

they

were out of station and 8.43 per

cent said they had no vote, being under aged for voting.

Google

Political and Social Background

10%

To find out the apparent contradiction involved in a large number of respondents saying they were not interested in politics and still exercising their vote at elections, we asked a question ‘whether those who voted (353, i.e. 78.79%) did so volunta-

rily or to oblige some one’. It was then found that only 32.58 per cent said they voted voluntarily, while the majority stated that they voted under

persuasion.

teason

for

The

their

educational voting

related to each other.

in

level

the

last

of the respondents and the election

are found to be

While only 11 percent of the illiterate respondents voted voluntarily, 61 per cent of the high school and above educated did so. It was found that as education increases, the percentage of women who voted voluntarily also increases. It is clear that education makes the Muslim women to vote voluntarily and without any persuasion, i.e. to exercise their franchise much more than to oblige someone. The majority of those who voted

under persuasion said that

their husbands

persuaded

them

to

vote. It may also be presumed that where the woman was educated, the husband or others did not think it appropriate to: persuade her to vote. Age or place of residence of the respondents do not have any

influence on their behaviour.

It is possible that the husband may give suggestions to the wife as to whom they should vote. When asked, ‘did your husband suggest the name of the candidate whom you should vote for’, 62.88 per cent of our respondents said ‘yes’. Respondents’ education and the suggestion from their husbands are related to

each other.

While about 90 per cent of the illiterate respondents were advised by their husbands as to whom they should vote, only 34 per cent of the high school and college educated respondents were advised by their husbands. So it is clear that the higher the educational level of the respondents, the lower the percentage of those who were advised by their husbands about the choice: of the candidate.

This may be due to the fact that the husbands

of the educated women do not think it necessary or appropriate

to suggest a candidate to their wives, as they taking an independent decision in this regard.

Google

were

capable of

110

Status of Muslim

When

bands

the

about

further asked

222 the

Women in India

respondents

candidate

who

were advised by their hus-

for whom

‘whether they actually

87.39 per cent answered ‘yes’.

they

voted for

Here also

should

vote were

that candidate’,

education

of the res-

pondents was found to have a great influence. About 94 per cent of the illiterate Muslim women voted for

the candidate suggested by their husbands, while only 43 per cent of the high school and above educated group did so. In other words, the number of women who voted for the candidate of

their choice rather than that of their husband their education. Education helped these women

increases with to take an in-

dependent decision and to abide by it. It seems that though voting was by secret ballot, only the educated women felt assured

about the secrecy of their action.

This,

along

with their desire

to have freedom in the choice of candidates, seems to have per‘suaded an overwhelmingly large number (87%) of the higher educated group to behave like this.

In a tradition-oriented and religious-minded community as the

Muslims,

it is possible

that a person

would

vote

for one

who

belongs to the same religious group without looking into the merits of candidates. If this happens this could be considered as non-modern. In the present study, the respondents were asked, ‘suppose there are two candidates for election, one belonging to the Muslim League (a political party in Kerala) and the ‘other belonging to another political party, whom will you vote for’, 53.41 per cent of the respondents said they will vote for the

Muslim League candidate only,

and the rest

(46.59%) said they

will vote for the candidate after taking into consideration his merit. Educational level of the respondents and their preference for the candidate are related to each other significantly as shown by Table 27. The Table shows that the majority of

preferred to vote for the

Muslim League

the

respondents (53%)

candidate

only.

But

while 69 per cent of the illiterate respondents said they will vote for Muslim League only, only 31 per cent of the high school and

above educated group said so.

Onthe

other

hand when only

about 31 per cent of the illiterate respondents said they will vote

for the person

considering

Google

his merit

only,

69 percent

of the

Political and Social Background TABLE

Education and Preference

Education

27

for the Candidate

Preference

—§ ————______——___—_—_Muslim Leage only

Mliterate

Depending on merit

108

Primary Middle High School & College Total

111

48

(69.23%) At (58.29%) 36 (36.73%) 20 (31.25%)

(30.77%) 51 (41.81%) 62 63.27%) 44 (68.75%)

235 (53.41%)

205 (46.59%)

Total

156 122 98 63 440

X?=40.387 Df=3 Table value ot.01=11.341 C=0.29 Note : 10 respondents did not answer this question. highly educated

were

of that

opinion.

So it is clear that edu-

cation helps the women to prefer a candidate on the basis of merit and not only on religious background. Since we were interested in finding out the factors which the

respondents

took

into account

in deciding

the

merits

of the

candidate we asked them how they assessed the merit of candidates. We found that the majority identified a candidate’s merit with that of the political party sponsoring him.

To the 205 respondents (46.59%) who said they will vote for acandidate depending on his merit only, a further question, ‘are you aware of the programmes of the different candidates

contesting for election’, was asked. Then it was found that 53.66% per cent of the respondents said they here aware of the manifesto of the candidates while the rest said they were not.

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112

Status of Muslim Women in India

The educational level of the respondents and their awareness of the manifestoes of candidates contesting for election are related

to each other as the following Table 28 illustrates. TABLE

28

Education and Awareness of the Programme Candidates Contesting for Election

Education.

Awareness

=