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On UN Girl Child Day

Zafarul-Islam Khan

I thank the Archdiocese of Delhi for taking this initiative to hold a joint interfaith meeting to uphold and support the International Day of the Girl.

We, as Muslim community, wholeheartedly support this initiative. We support that our sisters and daughters must have the absolute right to be free from gender-based violence and harmful practices like deprivation of girls from education and employment.

We reject and condemn inhuman practices like female foeticide, female infanticide, child marriage, female genital mutilation etc. which are all man-made alerrations, never sanctioned by God or Divine Word. Islam does not allow these practices. And if these exist in some Muslim societies, it is because of local influences like Arab bedouin or Ottoman cultures which are crumbling today.

We find that even in Saudi Arabia, the bastion of Muslim conservatism, women are winning their rights. Today they are allowed freedoms which were unheard of only a few years ago. We find that a Saudi woman is now the ambassador of her country in Washington DC.

Outside Arabia, Muslim women never faced such hurdles. In a number of Muslim countries, women have held highest political offices like Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Two Muslim women from conservative countries, Shirin Ebadi of Iran and Kerman Tawakkul of Yemen, have won noble Prizes for Peace. Pakistan’s Malala Yusufzai is a world icon of women struggle and emancipation.

The Muslim community supports this UN initiative to empower girls.

Today our daughters are not sitting at home but are going to same schools and colleges where their male siblings go. They are competing, rather out-excelling boys. We believe that given a chance, girls will prove that they are in no way inferior to boys. Rather, they may be even superior to boys in some ways, like emotional intelligence.

Having said this, I must add that certain limits will always have to be observed to retain our civility. As Muslims, we cannot allow nudity in the western sense, we cannot tolerate live-in relationships or sexual relations outside the wedlock. These are sacrosanct red lines. In general, we welcome this initiative and wholeheartedly support it.

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