We, the undersigned concerned citizens, are greatly disturbed by news reports of the NCW in-charge, Rekha Sharma’s visit to meet Hadiya at the home of her father, Mr. Asokan, where she continues to be incarcerated. These reports raise more fears than they allay.
Ms Hadiya has been reported by Ms Sharma to be ‘healthy and happy’. However, Ms. Sharma goes on to state, without providing any evidence whatsoever, that while there is no ‘love jihad’ in Kerala, there are forced conversions.
It bears reiteration that Ms. Hadiya is a twenty four year old adult woman, who took a decision to convert to Islam, and then to marry a Muslim man. For this exercise of self determination, Ms. Hadiya has been placed under house arrest in her parents’ control, and this shocking violation of Ms. Hadiya’s personal liberty and her right to take decisions about her own life, has been endorsed by the legal system.
The Supreme Court on October 30th, directed her father to produce her before the Court a month later on 27th November. We are deeply concerned that during this month long period, Ms. Hadiya will continue to suffer the agony of being held in captivity against her will; and her basic right to choice of religion and marriage partner as well as freedom of movement as a citizen will continue to be denied to her.
Now Ms Sharma’s statement essentially endorses the unconscionable and illegal house arrest of Ms Hadiya, with the certification of her being ‘healthy and happy’. Further Ms Sharma’s claim of forced conversions attempts to distort and cast a shadow on Hadiya’s decision.
Ms. Sharma’s tweets from so-called reconversion camps in Kerala, where adult women are held against their will, in which she claimed they were ‘victims of forced conversions’, seem intended to colour and influence Hadiya’s case and thus compromise her statutory role as NCW in-charge. We are aware that two women have been able to approach the Kerala High Court, swearing on affidavit that they have undergone torture at one such centre. The discourse of ‘forced conversions’ is a form of violent control over adult women taking decisions contrary to the wishes of their families.
Despite Hadiya stating clearly before the Kerala High Court several times over the past year that she has taken every decision about her life with complete knowledge and understanding, the court has essentially handed over her custody to her father.
For Hadiya to depose freely and truthfully before the Supreme Court on November 27th, it is imperative that she is first freed from the hostile and coercive circumstances of parental custody and be fully at liberty.
Hadiya’s rights and freedoms as an adult citizen must be restored, for which she must be freed immediately from house arrest and all steps taken to ensure that her decisions regarding her life are respected.
Ayesha Kidwai, Professor, JNU, Delhi
Dipta Bhog, Women’s rights activist, New Delhi
Farah Naqvi, Independent Writer and Activist, Delhi
Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai
Geeta Seshu, Independent journalist, Mumbai
Hasina Khan, Bebaak Collective, Mumbai
Heba Ahmed, Ph.D. student, Centre for Political Studies, JNU
Inji Pennu, Global Voices & Advocacy
J Devika, Centre For Development Studies, Trivandrum
Janaki Nair, Professor, JNU, Delhi
Jaya Sharma, Feminist activist, Delhi
Kalpana Kannabiran, Professor and Director, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad
Kavita Krishnan, All India Progressive Women’s Association
Kavita Panjabi, Professor, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
Kunjila, Women Against Sexual Harassment
LABIA- A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
Madhu Mehra, People for Law and Development, Delhi
Mary E John, Professor, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi
Meena Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
Mrudula Bhavani, Reporter, Narada News
Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Consulting Editor of Himal SouthAsian
Meera Velayudhan, Policy Analyst, Centre For Development Studies, Trivandrum
Nivedita Menon, Professor, JNU, Delhi
Pratiksha Baxi, Professsor, JNU, Delhi
Pinjra Tod, Delhi
Rajni Tilak, Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Andolan
Ridhima Sharma, MPhil, Centre for Women’s Studies, JNU
Saba Dewan, Film-maker
Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Delhi
Shabnam Hashmi, Social activist, Delhi
Shyamolie Singh, Student, JNU
Somaya Gupta, Centre for Political Studies, JNU
Suchitra Vijayan, Barrister at Law, Writer and founding director of The Polis Project
Uma Chakravarti, Feminist scholar and activist, Delhi
V Geetha, Feminist scholar and activist, Chennai
Varsha Basheer, Affiliated Faculty with IRDP, University of California Berkeley
Wency Mendes, Journalist, Goa
Asha Rani P.L, Research Scholar, School of International Relations and Politics
Anusha Paul, Communication Officer, World Cultural Forum
Aysha Mahmood, Columnist, and Social Activist
Banojyotsna Lahiri, Lecturer, Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University
Fathima RF, MA Women’s Studies, TISS Mumbai