Rajat Sharma

Why Triple Talaq Abolition Bill is necessary to ensure gender justice

akbThe Lok Sabha on Thursday passed, for the third time, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, popularly known as Triple Talaq abolition bill, after the Congress, JD(U), DMK, TMC, SP and other parties staged a walkout after opposing the bill. The bill provides for a prison term of three years for Muslim males who divorce their wife after uttering the word ‘talaq’ thrice, either orally or through other means.

The bill had been passed twice earlier in the previous Lok Sabha but had lapsed because it could not get approval from the Rajya Sabha. Piloting the bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad pointed out that the Supreme Court had already struck down oral talaq as illegal and unconstitutional, and yet despite the SC verdict, several hundred cases of triple talaq have taken place across India.

This landmark bill, if enacted, will herald a new era for Muslim women who had been facing gender injustice due to the whims of their husbands. It is a progressive legislation that can change the face of Muslim community in India. Needless to say, divorcing one’s wife by uttering the word ‘talaq’ thrice either orally, or through WhatsApp or SMS or Skype, constitutes an act of injustice to Muslim womanhood.

No religion in the world allows such acts of instant divorce. Earlier, maulanas and ulema in India had promised to end this social evil in their community. Some of them tried, but their efforts could not bear fruit. On the other hand, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and other Muslim organisations brought out protest demonstrations to oppose this bill.

Since 2017 till now, there has been 574 reported cases of ‘triple talaq’ in India. Even after the apex court verdict, there were 345 reported cases of ‘triple talaq’. The government brought ordinances to enforce this bill thrice, and yet, 101 cases of ‘triple talaq’ were filed. The figures may seem to be miniscule in a big country like India, but the ground reality is that only a handful of such cases are reported, while majority of the cases go unreported.

Some Muslim leaders have tried to link this bill with religion. The ground reality is that 22 Islamic countries including Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have outlawed ‘triple talaq’.

It is also incorrect to allege that the government is trying to target Muslim community alone. The government, in the past, had enacted Hindu Marriage Act, and laws to ban dowry and Sati, with a view to eradicate these social evils from Hindu community.

All right-thinking and progressive-minded people should support Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his efforts to eradicate ‘triple talaq’ evil from Muslim community, and ensure gender justice to millions of Muslim women, whose fate hangs like the proverbial Damocles sword, dreading the very word ‘talaq’.

I would again appeal to all Muslim organisations and individuals to come forward and join hands in eradicating this despicable social evil.

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