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Last Updated: Friday, 1 July, 2005, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Protest against India rape fatwa
A ruling by a Muslim seminary in India that a woman allegedly raped by her father-in law must separate from her husband has been met with protests.

The religious edict or fatwa was issued by the Darul-Uloom Deoband, a powerful Islamic school which was established more than 150 years ago.

The Deoband school promote a radical brand of Islam which is said to have inspired the Taleban in Afghanistan.

But other Muslim bodies in India have opposed its latest ruling.

The alleged rape attracted widespread attention after reports that reports that a Muslim council of community elders had ordered the victim to marry her father-in-law.

On Friday, the alleged victim failed to appear before a Sharia court set up by Darul-uloom Deoband to hear the case, the Press Trust of India reports.

Earlier reports quoted her as saying she would abide by the fatwa.

Protests

A body of Muslim women said the Deoband ruling was "against the spirit and essence of Islam, which gives equal rights to women".

Why should she be punished for no fault of hers
Feroze Mithoborwala
Muslim Youth of India

"The Islamic clerics have failed to differentiate between sex by consent and rape by force," Shaista Amber, president of the All India Muslim Women's Personal Law Board, is quoted as saying by the Asian Age newspaper.

Feroze Mithoborwala of the Muslim Youth of India described the fatwa as absurd.

"Why should she be punished for no fault of hers?" he told the Times of India newspaper.

She had a physical relationship with her father-in-law. It does not matter if it was consensual or forced
Mohammad Masood Madani
Muslim cleric

Another Muslim women's organisations, Awaz-e-Niswan, said the fatwa was "shocking".

"Who has given these people the power to issue fatwas?

"We will mobilise public opinion against this fatwa," Hasina Khan of the Awaz-e-Niswan said.

Fatwa

On Thursday, women's groups protested in the northern city of Muzaffarnagar, where the alleged rape took place.

It coincided with the visit of a team from India's National Commission of Women, sent to investigate the case.

"We want justice for the woman," NCW head Girija Vyas told journalists after meeting the alleged victim.

In its ruling the Darul-Uloom Deoband did not endorse the village council's order that the victim had to marry her father-in-law but said she could no longer live with her husband.

"She had a physical relationship with her father-in-law. It does not matter if it was consensual or forced," Mohammad Masood Madani, a cleric at Deoband, told Reuters.

The woman's father-in-law has been arrested and is in jail.



SEE ALSO:
Father-in-law arrested for rape
16 Jun 05 |  South Asia
Woman rejects rapist marriage bid
04 May 05 |  South Asia
India Muslim divorce code set out
02 May 05 |  South Asia
Women to judge Delhi's rape cases
19 Dec 03 |  South Asia


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