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8 months ago
How Much Is Criminalising Triple Talaq Actually Going To Help Muslim Women?

Triple talaq, a form of instant divorce, involves a Muslim man uttering “Talaq talaq talaq,” to divorce his wife. Prevalent only in a few Muslim communities, triple talaq has not been made illegal in India yet. Countries with large Muslim populations, like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Egypt, do not allow this form of divorce, and many Muslim communities across the world don’t opt for this form of a separation at all. However, in India, the first steps to abolish this instant divorce are only being taken now. On Thursday, the BJP government passed the Triple Talaq Bill in the Lok Sabha, moving marginally closer to helping Muslim women, one of the most disenfranchised sections of Indian society. Put forth by the BJP government’s Ravi Shankar Prasad, this event has generated a lot of positive buzz for the party.

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However, lest we forget, the fight against triple talaq gained momentum in India thanks to Muslim women, especially one Shayara Bano. Divorced through a telegram which said “Talaq talaq talaq,” Bano has been struggling to invalidate this divorce, and fight for her rights. In her struggle, she has been joined by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan. The group has routinely talked about the sufferings of women who are divorced most disrespectfully due to this law. Now, thanks to this Bill, a man can no longer arbitrarily use the word “talaq” three times to leave his wife. Should he do so, he can face up to three years in prison.

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But, is this measure rightfully being described as “too little too late?” Criminalising triple talaq, after all, only takes away a Muslim man’s right to send out a three-word confirmation that he is abandoning his wife. It does not give Muslim women the right to divorce. Even if we look at the most pro-woman form of divorce in Islam, known as “khulla,” women still need the man’s consent and cleric’s permission to ask for a divorce. Barring cruelty or the man’s impotence (which a woman needs to prove), Muslim women are not granted a divorce without a man’s permission.

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That’s not all. Many are also calling out the Triple Talaq Bill’s positioning problematic due to the right wing politics of the party which has pushed the bill. Taking advantage of this, the male-centric All India Muslim Personal Law Board has protested the Bill. Obviously, talk of interference in Muslim laws by a Hindutva-oriented party is a thorny aspect of this bill. That is the reason many have called this a political move and not heartfelt concern from women's rights. After all, if this was indeed about protecting the interests of women, marital rape would also be criminalised. But the bigger problem here, is that the appropriation of this movement by the BJP, and the dismissal of the importance of abolishing triple talaq by the likes of Muslim men such as Asaduddin Owaisi, delegitimize the fight of the Muslim women behind this fight. A law that was about giving women rights, somehow, has become about men, again. So, perhaps it would be wise to take a moment to salute the efforts of the Muslim women who routinely fought for this Bill, hoping for justice.

Picture Credits: BCCL
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