Whenever there is a discussion about Muslim women rights, it invariably, ends up becoming a discussion about; Uniform Civil Code (UCC) or secularism (or pseudo-secularism) or minority appeasement. This is a common issue raised by almost all women’s organisations. The recent cases of triple talaq and the Law Commission’s 16 point report on UCC seeking public option, which came under fire from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, is a fresh example of this.
 
 The representatives of the Sangh Parivar have also jumped into the discussion claiming that all this is happening because there is no UCC; as if violating the rights of a women under a uniform civil code is somehow justified. I don’t not want to come across as someone justifying one wrong by pointing at another wrong, but instances of such uncivilised directives, be it Khap panchayats or caste panchayats, are present within the so called Hindu society too.
 
 The Supreme Court judges, the Law Commission and the Sangh Parivar are very much concerned that the State is not taking up the case for implementing UCC strongly. In the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), Article 44 says that: “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” There are other directives in the constitution, which are also part of DPSP; that all should be given adequate means of livelihood, that men and women should get equal pay for equal work, that the health of the public (especially children), that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation, that everybody gets equal justice and free legal aid, secure living wages to all workers agricultural, industrial or otherwise, protecting the environment and so on. What are they not talking about these? What about welfare? No body really cares anymore.
 
 Now let us talk about UCC. Civil Code is another name for personal law. Marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption, alimony and other things come under personal law. These are closely tied up to the traditional practices of those people. And, it is obvious that, religion has a major role in these practices. Just as there is one Criminal Law for the entire country, UCC seeks to establish a single personal law for the entire country; which according to the Sangh Parivar will promote “national integration,” as if the nation is strictly a “monolith.” In a culturally diverse country like India, we don’t not speak just one language, or eat just one kind of food, or wear just one kind of clothes; and yet we speak of a “unity” in such diversity. Then what is the problem if there is diversity in practices of marriage, divorce, inheritance, alimony and so on?
 
 What is required is not unification of such personal laws, but the democratisation of them. One can only begin to think in this manner when one realizes that “difference” in a highly stratified society like India’s, is acceptable as long as the element of “hierarchy” is done away with; both inter-strata and intra-strata. The Sangh Parivar and their fundamentalists, who have objected tooth and nail to one such attempt made by Ambedkar to insert democratic values in the Hindu personal law, will never accept this idea.
 
 In fact, the social aspects of these personal laws are; man-woman relationship, marriage, divorce, inheritance; and in all these aspects, the crucial question is whether men and women have equal rights or not. And it is an accepted fact that all religions have done injustice to women in this regard. So, what is required is to remove such undemocratic values from these personal laws. For instance, in Islam the son would not get property right until the father is dead; he only has the right to enjoy the property until then. In Hindu tradition, the son becomes a coparcener the moment he is born; and once he turns major he has the right to part with it. In both of these, the women do not have an equal right to ancestral property; in fact, the 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act, which disturbingly does not apply retrospectively, has been stuck down by the Supreme Court. Again, Islam views marriage as a secular “contract” whereas it is a holy relationship for the Hindus. But both “uniformly” are unable to protect women from the abuses of domestic violence. This is the bitter truth.
 
 There is scope for such reform in Islam. In countries where it is the majority religion such reforms have been introduced, both openly in some and surreptitiously in the others. Mohammad Ali in Egypt and Kemal Pasha in Turkey are examples that come to mind. Even Pakistan has done away with Triple Talaq. Moreover, a majority of Indian Muslims belong to the Hanafi tradition of the Sunni sect, which is relatively the most open to change. Despite this, the least reform has been in India. Why is this the case? The reason can be found not in religious context but in India’s socio-political context.
 
 The answer to this fundamentalist stronghold is not the UCC. It, in fact, has the potential basis to further radicalise the Muslim community. Already, various tradition in the name of one monolith called “Hindu” have been subsumed; similar with the Shariat Act 1937, but both continue to be undemocratic in their own ways. The dangerous belief that diversity and plurality is harmful to national integration is essentially a fascist one. Beginning with Shahbano to the present every time, the question of Muslim women’s rights comes up the clamour for UCC is made by these Hindutva fascists. And every time this is done it will only further radicalise and alienate the Muslim community.