Sabera Bhayat: MUSA FORUM MUSA's 2nd Graduate Conference, in collaboration with the Royal Asiatic Society, will be held in London on 8, 9, & 10 October 2015. The keynote address will be delivered by Professor Michel Boivin of CEIS Paris. Please do join us.
Thematic Keywords
Gender, Feminism, Women's Rights, personal law
Geographic Keywords
India, Maharashtra, South Asia
Full Name
Sabera Bhayat
Email Address
Current Position
PhD student
as of [12-03-2017 05:24:58]
Current Department
Department of History
Expected Year of Graduation
Academic Advisor
Dr Sarah Hodges
Current Institution
University of Warwick
Country of Institution
United Kingdom
Most recently completed Degree and Institution
M.A., University of Warwick
Discipline of most recently completed degree
Year of graduation from most recently completed degree
Current Research Title
Female Education and Legal Reform: The Muslim Women's Movement in Colonial West India, 1896-1945
Current Research Abstract
My PhD project will explore the relationship between increasing female literacy and the advance of women’s rights under state enforced personal laws. The climate of nationalism, communalism, and political instability, allowed India’s diverse communities to reassess and reshape themselves in line with their group identities. Such communalism contributed to the division between Hindu and Muslim women in the all-India women’s movement, which saw Muslim women’s advocacy of a Muslim personal law as opposed to a uniform civil code for all Indian women. Such debates still hold relevance in contemporary India, where Muslim personal laws have remained unchanged since their enactment by the British government in the 1930s, raising questions of gender equality under personal laws, and contributing to ongoing debates on the relevance of a uniform civil code for all Indian communities.
Other Research
As I am interested in the history of Indian Muslim women's rights, I have recently been exploring the debates surrounding the issue of a uniform civil code in India throughout the course of the twentieth century. The debate holds particular relevance in contemporary South Asia as Muslim women’s rights under Muslim personal law have come up for question and suggested for reform. Through a survey of court cases on divorce and maintenance from the time of the passing of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act of 1939, and the Shah Bano controversy in the 1980s which was followed by the passing of the Muslim Women’s (Protection of Rights) Act of 1986, I have been exploring the reasons why such a debate was intensified during the 1970s and 80s, and why claims to divorce and maintenance by Muslim women before the Shah Bano controversy did not provoke a similar uproar.