A group of women in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu have decided to build the first all-female mosque in the country to counteract what they say are male-dominated rulings by “jamaats,” congregations that meet in mosques and settle disputes.

Chaaya, an organization of village women, obtained the land and the permission to build the mosque, which will house its own jamaat, reported the Hindustan Times. Under Islamic law, women are normally banned from entering a mosque.

The group of women took action after finding that the male-dominated jamaats often handed down verdicts favoring men in family disputes, particularly in divorce cases.

“When a man seeks divorce, only his case is heard by the jamaat. The wife is never called for a hearing, saying that women are not permitted inside mosques, where jamaats usually sit,” said Sherifa, who convenes Chaaya.

Members of Chaaya believe building their own mosque is crucial to obtaining fair decisions in marital and divorce matters.

“A survey conducted by us showed that in one out of every five Muslim households, there is at least one case of desertion by the husband or instant talaq (divorce) or second marriage by the man, citing some mental or physical disability of the first wife,” said Rasheeda, a Chaaya member. “And when these matters were taken to the police station, they asked us to settle them with the jamaat, which are controlled by men.”


The University of California, Davis was charged Thursday with failing to uphold Title IX regulations by four female wrestlers. The athletes claim in a lawsuit that the university failed to provide equal participation and scholarship opportunities for women. The plaintiffs are seeking reinstatement of the women’s wrestling program, which was terminated in 2001, and the scholarship opportunities–replete with all the benefits accorded to varsity athletes at the university.

“This lawsuit should serve as a wake-up call to schools that there are thousands of women and girls in this state who want the opportunity to participate in sports and that it is time for schools to start meeting their needs, not reducing their opportunities,” says Nancy Solomon, senior staff attorney at the California Women’s Law Center.

Since 1998, the number of high school girls participating in California wrestling programs has doubled, says Solomon. It is crucial that these girls have the opportunity to compete at the university level, she adds.

Plaintiff Arezou Mansourian gave up admission to a joint bachelor-medical degree program for a chance to wrestle at the University of California, Davis.

“I was devastated when UC Davis told us we couldn’t wrestle any more simply because we are female,” she said.

— Carline Bennett.