‘An oppressive tool to control women’
In order to stay in power, political parties try and appease religious sentiments, observed rights activist Khushi Kabir yesterday.
"The government lacks the will to question religious organisations even though they claim that they are trying to do everything to reduce gender discrepancies, the religious card is essential for politicians to stay in power," said Kabir, honorary coordinator and adviser to Sangat, and coordinator of Nijera Kori.
She made these observations at eShe magazine's South Asia Union Summit Led by Women in a panel titled "Doctrine of Oppression: The Gendered Cost of Religious Extremism".
Referring to how Qawmi madrasas are funded by the government, she said, "Despite the fact that they are not transparent about their curriculum and don't allow the government to have a say in what they teach, passouts from these madrasas are treated as equivalent to having a Master's degree. When bloggers, free-thinkers or rationalists try to raise voices about this, the government supports religious extremists by arresting those raising their voices."
"People use different oppressive modes and fatwa is just one of the religious tools they have on their hands to control women who go outside the box or norms that the clerics have decided for womenfolk," she said.
Most fatwas had to do with land, property, and position rather than religion, she added.
The panel discussed the Taliban in Afghanistan, caste-based sexual violence in India, attacks on feminists in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and threw light at how religious extremism targets women first and most of all.