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Open Letter to High Commissioner of India On Discriminatory Practices Against Muslim Women – WAFIQ

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Dear H.E. Mr. B.N. Reddy,

Your Excellency High Commissioner
of the Republic of India

Discriminatory Practices against Muslim Women

We respectfully inform Your Excellency of the establishment and participation of the International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education (WAFIQ) in various international human rights mechanisms concerning women issues.

Recently, we followed with great concern and interest on reports of escalating discriminatory practices against Muslim female students in Karnataka state, where the students were barred from entering classes whilst donning their headscarves (hijabs).

As an international human rights organization, it behooves upon us to remind t he Republic of India of her obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which India has signed in 1980 and ratified since 1993. Being amongst the earliest United Nations members to sign the CEDAW, Republic of India holds a great historical significance and thus bearing great responsibility to ensure the objectives of CEDAW is respected. This includes the principle of the inadmissibility of discrimination and proclamation that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, including distinction based on sex.

In particular, we highlight India’s obligation under Article 1 0(a) of CEDAW and maintain that India has a strict obligation to ensure access to education is allowed on all of her women citizens. We trust that this obligation must be read together with India’s obligation under Article 3 of CEDAW that guarantees the expression of cultural beliefs of India’s citizens.

We therefore respectfully urge the government of the Republic of India to comply with these obligations and take immediate measures to ensure the rights of these Muslim students and all other Muslim women in India are protected and respected.

Associate Professor Dr Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar
President of the International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education (WAFIQ)

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