Shia board censures domestic violence Among the many ills plaguing our society, domestic violence would definitely rank high in the list. Irrespective of caste, creed or religion, women at home tend to be at the receiving end in a society where male chauvinism still holds fort. In an effort to tackle this problem the All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB), in a historic meeting, decided to ostracise those who beat or desert their wives. The board has also decided to launch a toll-free helpline soon to help victims of domestic violence. "We are also going to constitute a committee of ulemas and lawyers to provide all kinds of legal and social support to those women who are victims of domestic violence and gender bias," AISPLB president Maulana Mirza Mohammad Athar said on Sunday following a meeting of the board. "The board resolved in its meeting that there would be zero tolerance against wife beaters. We are in the process of preparing a new nikahnama under which there will be inherent provisions to curb the menace. Our ulemas were forced to do this because we had been receiving hundreds of such complaints everyday and in majority of the cases the culprit were men," Athar said. The AISPLB, which was founded in 1972, also expressed its displeasure against polygamy. "The Shia body has reached the conclusion that dowry is the reason behind increasing instances of polygamy. We are also committed to prevent dowry system in the community. The general practice is that on the day of the marriage, both families decide on the amount of mehar (nuptial gift) which is given by the groom's family to the bride. But now the board has decided that the mehar would be in the form of cash and must be decided well in advance before the wedding. The bride's family would be free to spend this amount to meet the expenses of the marriage ceremony," Yasub Abbas, spokesperson of the board, said. Abbas claimed there are over 200 million Shias in the world out of which 114 million Shias who live in India, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran look to the AISPLB for guidance. "There are 16 million in India who meticulously follow the instructions issued by Shia cleric who are senior members of the panel. We hope that our resolution will be a milestone in the history of the community," Abbas said. He said the board has also urged the Centre to provide shelter to Shias who are not comfortable in Pakistan. "We have been receiving complaints of ill treatment with the Shias from India who had migrated to Pakistan. We want the government to help them out," he added. The AISPLB has also demanded that political parties include reservation for Muslims in their election manifesto. RELIEF FOR BATTERED WOMEN The All India Shia Personal Law Board has decided to ostracise those who beat or desert their wives. A toll- free helpline will be launched by the board to help victims of domestic violence. The board will prepare a new nikahnama under which there will be inherent provisions to curb domestic violence. The board also condemned polygamy and said dowry is the prime reason behind the practice. The board also ruled that mehar (nuptial gift) would now be given in the form of cash and must be decided well in advance before the wedding.