Through a historic judgement on 22nd August 2017 the honourable Supreme Court put an end to an age-old regressive practice called Triple Talaq. People across India celebrated the event as a milestone for empowerment of Muslim women, but should India really celebrate this as an achievement? I do not think so!
We can’t blame these people celebrating the landmark verdict against triple Talaq because they have been spectators to many events which crushed Muslim women’s effort to seek justice and the most famous among them is the Shah Bano case. They have seen how an elected government overturned a judgement which confirmed a woman’s right to seek alimony from her husband after she was given Talaq by the latter. Although it took more than 70 years after the independence to ban an inhumane practice of instantaneous Talaq which affected lives of numerous Muslim women across India, yet they see a silver lining in the verdict.
I, being a student of law, have a different opinion than these people. This verdict didn’t amuse me. The verdict annulled the process of instantaneous Talaq or Talaq-e-biddat only, not other forms of Talaq prevalent in the Indian Muslim society. Two other forms of Talak that Muslim men regularly use are Talaq-e-Asaan and Talaq-e-Hasan. In both these forms of talaq a man can divorce his wife unilaterally, but these forms of Talaq are not instantaneous. It takes a maximum three months or three Tuhr period to complete the process when the couples must abstain from cohabitation to make this Talaq effective. Which clearly means the verdict has given these women a window of extra 3 months period for negotiation. But is this enough?
Even though women are allowed to initiate the process of Talaq which is termed as Khula, but here also she is entirely on the mercy of her husband. If the man doesn’t want a divorce, the Talaq initiated by a woman would be ineffective. To put it simply, if a woman is not happy within a marriage, she can’t even decide to move out of that alliance if the decision is not mutual.
In an age when we talk about liberty, gender equality, freedom of expression, social justice, women empowerment, feminism and what not, we can’t even provide basic human rights enshrined under Art 14, Art15, Art21 of the Indian Constitution to these women, and all in the name of religion. Art 14 advocates equality before law, Art 15 says no discrimination based on gender, Art 21 ensures right to life and liberty. The practice of Talaq is in violation of all these articles of our constitution, but neither our media nor our administration has the courage to talk about these violations. Even our courts shy away from taking cognizance of issues like Halala, Polygamy, unequal property right etc.
What more astonishing is that we will hardly see successful Muslim women specifically in the English media ever acknowledging these evils exist in our society. They forget that women who don’t have a voice of their own are looking up to them to talk about their plight. But these are all wishful thinking because political correctness is paramount and everything else comes later, be it fundamental right or freedom of expression.