Muslim women in India are petitioning the Indian SC to ban ‘triple talaq’ as a means of instant unilateral divorce

Muslim women in India are petitioning the Indian SC to ban ‘triple talaq’ as a means of instant unilateral divorce, for it goes against the very principle of ‘gender equality’.

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There is a pretty simple way for you to understand the implications of triple talaq that is going to be discussed in the present article. All you have to do is to simply rent a DVD of the 1982 Salma Agha-starrer Bollywood movie Nikaah, a rare gem in an otherwise commercially-driven industry that served as a social commentary on the Shariah laws of divorce. In fact, unbeknownst to many, the film was initially to be titled ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’ but had to be renamed ‘Nikaah’ on the “insistence” of Islamic clerics.

What the film highlighted and what the Muslim women have been protesting against for ages…is the “unilaterality” of Triple Talaq, where a man can — almost on a whim! — divorce his wife merely by uttering ‘Talaq…Talaq…Talaq’ in the presence of two witnesses. For It not only goes against the tenet of gender equality, it is against the very spirit of ‘equality’ as guaranteed and protected under the Indian Constitution.

Hence, it is not surprising that petitions are being put forth before the Supreme Court of India, demanding an end to triple talaq [and polygamy]…calling them “illegal and unconstitutional, which violate the rights to equality, dignity, life and freedom of religion of Muslim women living under the protection of the Indian constitution.

This has especially become imperative considering the implications of triple talaq in the changing times. There have been several incidents in the last few years where Muslim women were unilaterally divorced by their husbands, who simply typed “Talaq…Talaq…Talaq” and sent them over Whatsapp/Facebook/Twitter/Email/SMS etc. These women are still pleading for justice in the courts of law in the vain hope that at least the Indian constitution will grant them the protection that the society and the personal law board has since time immemorial been denying unto them.

Thus, recognising the need of the hour to address the issue, the Supreme Court therefore last year in October decided to suo moto register a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) titled ‘Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality’ in order to look and ascertain whether and to what extent were Muslim women subject to gender discrimination under the Muslim personal law. The argument thus became: “How can a personal law based on the tenets of religions become more important than the Indian constitution, especially in a secular country like India?” Are Muslim women living in India not entitled to the same freedom, liberty and equality that are being enjoyed by women of other faiths living in India?

What’s really surprising to note is that while many Muslim countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt, etc. have either implicitly or explicitly banned the practice of triple talaq, for some reason (and we can all cop a guess as to that reason), the practice is still being practiced at large in India — which is quote unquote a secular country that promises to uphold the values of equality that was — Once Upon A Time! — promised to every man and woman – irrespective of his caste, colour or creed!

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