New Delhi: Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen has batted for adopting a uniform civil code based on equality, asserting that it was imperative to do away with religious laws in order to achieve gender parity.
She also said that a country created on the basis of religion is likely to become a fundamentalist country and that "religion is not compatible with democracy and human rights", while adding that the Bangladesh Liberation War had proved that two-nation theory was "wrong".
The 53-year-old author, who has written extensively on oppression of women, said that both Hindu and Muslim women were being discriminated against due to archaic religious laws. "In South Asia, countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have laws based on religion. If you have laws based on religion, then women would not have equality. We should have uniform civil code based on equality because all religions are against women," she said.
The author, living in self-exile in India after incurring the wrath of fundamentalists back home over a novel written by her in 1994, was speaking at a panel discussion at the 'Penguin Spring Fever' held here late last evening. Nasreen pointed out that Hindu women in India did get the right to equal inheritance of their father's property as their brothers and were empowered with equal rights in marriage, but in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, Hindus still follow "the archaic laws of the shastras and the discrimination against women continues".
In a similar way, she said Muslim women in India are denied equality as they abide by religious laws which, she alleged, "discriminate against women". The author said that while there was no model country for women, Sweden, according to her, "is a country where women get most equality." It was imperative for countries to do away with religious laws in order to achieve gender parity, she said.
"If you create a country on the basis of religion, that country, most likely, would become a fundamentalist country. Religion is not compatible with human rights, women's rights freedom of expression and democracy," she said.
Former Indian foreign service officer TCA Raghavan, former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, former Pakistani diplomat Husain Haqqani, who joined via video-conferencing, and former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar were also in the panel. She went on to say that the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 proved that the phenomenon of "Muslim unity is a myth" and that "two-nation theory was a wrong theory." She asserted that "no country should be created on the basis of religion".