DELHI - Amid public grief over the death of a gang-rape victim, a leading Muslim group has called on faith leaders to dedicate their religious sermons to fighting atrocities against women.
I urge the religious leaderships across the board to include the issue of fair and respectful treatment to women in their discourse, especially by Muslim Ulema (Maulanas) in their weekly Juma khutbas (sermon), Parveen Abdi, secretary general of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB), told PTI on Monday, December 31.A 23-year-old girl was attacked and gang-raped on a bus in southern Delhi two weeks ago while returning with a male friend from the cinema.
The medical student had suffered brain injuries and massive internal injuries in the attack and died in hospital in Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.
The gang-rape has sparked massive protests about gender attitudes in India and prompted calls for changing laws on violence against women.
Over the weekend, candlelit vigils were held to mourn the woman and express anger and sorrow at her death.
Six men arrested for the 16 December rape have been charged with murder. If convicted, they face the death penalty.
I call upon the leaders to raise awareness among people and sensitize them on the need of treating women in respectable manner during their religious talks, Abdi said.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, police figures show.
Reported rape cases rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011, according to government data.
Social activists complain that most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly.
Activists also accuse successive governments in India of doing little to ensure the safety of women.
Abdi called for the society to work in unison to ensure the safety of women in India.
I will also call upon RSS supreme Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur and Shahi Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari in Delhi and request them to use their influence for this nationalist and humanist cause, Abdi said, referring to the National Volunteer Organization.
Since the gang-rape, government officials have announced a series of measures intended to make New Delhi safer for women.
These include more police night patrols, checks on bus drivers and their assistants, and the banning of buses with tinted windows or curtains.
But many of the protesters say that women are viewed as second-class citizens, and that a fundamental change in culture and attitudes, backed up by law, is needed to protect them.
Muslims account for 160 million of India's 1.1 billion people, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.
The Noble Qur'an supports the rights of women to be independent, to keep their own names, to inherit property and to practice their faith without coercion.The Qur'an also says that men and women are created from a single soul.