By Kulsum Mustafa
LUCKNOW: Silence is not always golden. And certainly not, if that means suppressing rights of an entire community.
Questioning and deploring studied silence over their basic problems, Muslim girls living in some of Lucknow's poorest ghettos have put forward their manifesto, which they believe will lend a larger voice to their demands and grievances.
The demands include among others, schools nearer home, proper toilets in schools, proper school uniforms, human rights protection especially for male family members who are frequently harassed and booked by police and also a discussion on children's issues in parliament.
Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) Chattisgarh state co-coordinator, Ms Zuleikha Jabi, elaborating on contents of manifesto, said the document points out some of the reasons responsible for drop-outs among Muslim teenage girls.
“Conservative Muslim families don’t favour children wearing tunics to school. If a proper uniform that consists of shalwar, kameez and dupatta is provided, it will encourage these families to send their wards to school,” “Conservative Muslim families do not favour children wearing tunics to school. If a proper uniform that consists of shalwar, kameez and dupatta is provided, it will encourage these families to send their wards to school,” said Ms Jabi.
“We have noticed that girls have stopped coming to schools, if school doesn’t have a separate toilet for them or if the toilets can't be bolted from inside,” added Ms. Farhat Ameen, from BMMA Orissa unit.
The two page manifesto listing eighteen demands was presented at Media for Children, a fortnightly programme at the UP Press Club, jointly organized by UNICEF and Media Nest, an organization working for welfare of journalists and their families.
The document is charted out by BMMA, a movement that works towards developing leadership qualities among Muslim women, especially belonging to the lower strata.
“Election time is the crucial time when politicians listen to your woes with patience,” said BMMA state convener Naaz Raza.
“We want to place before the nation the rights and the concern of Muslim girls across the nation during these national elections when everyone is speaking of manifestos and vote banks,” added Ms Naish Hasan, founder member of BMMA.
BMMA has prepared exhaustive document for people in power to wake up to the challenges faced the Muslim girl child in Lucknow.
It is time, policy makers seriously go through this manifesto and work to improve the lives of these girls, so as these teenagers don't consider themselves part of under served community.