The RSS-linked Muslim Rashtriya Manch will roll out a nationwide campaign to build a "mass movement" for amendment in the personal law to raise the minimum age of marriage of Muslim women from the current age of puberty.
Pitching for reforms in the Sharia law for giving equal rights to women of the minority community, the outfit's campaign will also seek to generate public opinion in support of demand for creation of separate space in mosques to enable Muslim women offer 'namaz' there, sources in the outfit said.
At present, the minimum age for marriage of Muslim women is the age of puberty under the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act.
"This is highly regressive," a senior functionary of MRM told PTI.
Except those from educated and progressive families, Muslim girls are married at a very young age in the country as the Sharia law makes them eligible for it once they attain the age of puberty, he said.
"Many of the girls, specially in rural areas, are married at the tender age of 12-13 years, and by the time they attain the age of 20 years, they have five to six children," he claimed.
The minimum age of marriage of Muslim women needs to be raised to protect the girls of the community from "the wrath of child marriage as well as physical and mental torture they suffer after being married at a tender age", he said.
"The Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) has decided to launch a massive campaign soon to build a mass movement for amendment in Muslim personal law to raise the minimum age of marriage from the current age of puberty and fix it," he said.
He said the campaign will pitch for reforms in Sharia law and provide equal rights to Muslim women and free them from the "shackles of orthodoxy", he said.
As part of the move, the campaign will also seek to build public opinion in favour of demands for creation of separate spaces in mosques to enable Muslim women offer 'namaz', he said.
"The MRM is in the process of preparing its campaign strategy in consultation with Muslim scholars, including muftis, maulanas, imams, doctors, professors, women, students and others in the society," he said.
Once given a final shape, the campaign strategy will be implemented in a sequential manner across the country, he added.
During the Winter Session of Parliament in December last year, the government had introduced a bill in Lok Sabha that seeks to fix 21 years as the uniform age of marriage for women and men, with Union minister Smriti Irani terming the move a "decisive step" in the country's history.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which was opposed by the opposition after its introduction, also seeks to amend seven personal laws -- the Indian Christian Marriage Act; the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act; the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act; the Special Marriage Act; the Hindu Marriage Act; and the Foreign Marriage Act.
The bill was subsequently referred to a parliamentary panel for greater scrutiny.
Various teams of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch had recently conducted a survey on the issue of bringing reforms in Sharia law in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand, and collected feedback from the members of the minority community.
"During the survey, it emerged that the community members want changes in the Sharia law and practice, and raising of age of marriage of women....Muslim women want equal rights," the MRM added. (With PTI inputs)