Lucknow: Muslim men in Uttar Pradesh's rural areas seem to be in a hurry to divorce their wives before the Union government outlaws the practice of triple talaq. There has been a spurt in these instant divorces since Parliament took up the bill. Firstpost has learnt of six such cases in the past two weeks.
A man in the Baqarganj area of Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh divorced his wife on 18 January when she asked him to get their daughter admitted in school. In a fit of anger, he shouted, "Modi aur Yogi mera kuch nahi bigaad sakte. Maine tumhe talaq di talaq di talaq di (Modi and Yogi can't harm me, I divorce you, divorce you. divorce you)." The woman said that her husband had been unhappy ever since the birth of their daughter.
The Muslim Women Bill, 2019 (Protection of Rights of Marriage), commonly known as the triple talaq bill, was tabled in the Lok Sabha on 28 December by Union Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and passed on the same day despite objections by opposition parties.
According to Mohammad Rajjan, a Luknow based advocate, the bill would make triple talaq illegal and proposes a three-year jail term as punishment. The bill is now before the Rajya Sabha and is expected to come up in the Budget Session of Parliament. The Supreme Court, in its decision on 22 August last year, had held that the practice of triple talaq is a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, which upholds equality before the law.
Shaheen Parvez, convenor of Uttar Pradesh Muslim Mahila Adhikaar Manch, who is bitterly opposed to the practice of triple talaq, says every Muslim man who wants to get rid of his wife and family sees this as the perfect time to divorce her.
"Sab mardon ko pata chal gaya hai ki agar ab talaq-e-bidaat ho gaya to jail jaani pad sakti hai. Isiliye sab talaq ki jaldi me hai. Tabhi to Supreme Court ke aadesh ke baad bhi UP me sattar se jyada triple talaq ke case hue hai (Men have realised that hereafter if they divorce their wives by uttering ‘talaq’ thrice at once, they can be jailed. That is why there have been more than 70 divorces in UP after the SC directive)," she said.
Parvez further said that she personally knows many women in Bareilly and adjoining districts who have been deserted by their husbands by saying "talaq, talaq talaq" but they are not ready to lodge a complaint. She said their parents tried to find a compromise, gave money as additional dowry and do other things to keep their daughters married. But even where they succeed, victims had to undergo another tribulation called halala, which requires a divorced woman to marry another man, consummate the wedding and get divorced from him to become eligible to remarry her husband.
Parvez demanded punishment for the maulvis (priests) who legitimise practice of triple talaq. "There are maulvis in our society who say that the talaqs been done by saying this in one go but they do not know the actual procedure of divorce according to Sharia (Islamic law). These people are enemies of Muslim society and they are the ones who run the halala centre, which is nothing but premeditated rape."
But Shaista Amber, president of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board argued that the government should consider revising the bill. “Our personal law nowhere says or advocates for talaq in one go. Instead there is a set procedure and a time period of three months for taking divorce. I demand a revision and the punishment of a jail sentence. Instead the bill should have counselling of the couple," she said.
"Agar parivaar na toote aur bacche ka bhavisya surakshit ho jaaye to isse accha kya hoga aap bataye (The childrens’ future remains secure if the family doesn’t break up. What could be better than this),” she asks. She. however, refused to comment on the practice of halala.
According to Muslim women-rights activist Tahira Hasan, the frequency of instant divorce cases shot up in the recent times. “Instant talaq in one go is a violation of human rights, an assault on democracy and the Indian Constitution. People are doing it because they want to avoid the punishment that would be slapped on them if the bill gets passed in parliament,” she said.
“Ab Akhbaar padhiye, usi me aapko is beech me badhe hue talaaq ke cases ke baare me pata chal jayega. Na jaane kitne case to dabe reh jaate hai aur hame pata nahi chalta. Mujhe khud 50 se jyada talaaq ke case ke baare me pata chala akhbaaro se isi beech me kyu ki log apni patniyo se peecha chudana chahte hai aur isi ki jaldbaaji hai (Read the papers and you will observe the rise in divorce cases among Muslims. Many such instant divorce cases are not reported even. I came across more than 50 cases in recent times and this is because men are in a hurry to get rid of their wives)," said Hasan.
With the bill yet to become law, Muslim women remain at the mercy of their husbands’ whims. But even if enacted, laws like this can only lighten the burden of patriarchy, not eliminate it.
The author is a Lucknow-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters. He tweets @saurabhsherry
Updated Date: Jan 24, 2018 16:05 PM