TRIPLE TALAQ BILL PASSED: WHY INDIA NEEDED TO GET RID OF THIS SOCIAL MALAISE

The article originally appeared on India Today.

If Muslim countries including Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt have banned the practice of triple talaq, then how is banning triple talaq in India an anti-Shariat and un-Islamic activity?

The Triple Talaq Bill or the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 that was passed in the Lok Sabha has divided the political class and Muslim organisations, even if the legal fight against it was spearheaded by many aggrieved Muslim women and their organisations like the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA).

The proposed bill aims to outlaw the practice of Talaq-e-biddat or instant triple talaq and criminalises the practice, making it a non-bailable and cognizable offence and inviting a jail term of three years for erring husbands. This provision has been objected by many parties and they are demanding its removal.

The government says, doing so was necessary as even after the landmark Supreme Court verdict on August 22, 2017 that banned instant triple talaq, the social malaise continued unabated. The top court in its verdict had put a six month ban on the practice and had asked the government to frame a law on it.

If we see available data, the government stand looks logical, the data which says the Supreme Court ruling has failed to deter the erring Muslim husbands from divorcing their wives by saying ‘talaq-talaq-talaq’ in one go.

Before the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court in August, 177 triple talaq cases were registered, i.e., 22 cases a month.

The situation has become worse since then. As Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad revealed in the Parliament today, around 100 triple talaq cases have been registered since the Supreme Court verdict, i.e., 25 cases a month.

POOR LITERACY LEVELS, NEGLIGIBLE WORKFORCE PARTICIPATION

Data show Muslim women are worst of all social groupings of women in India.

According to the Census 2011, Muslim women at 52 per cent are least educated among the women in India. Among those who are educated, only very few reach the graduation level as the overall share of the Muslim community among graduate students is just 2.75 per cent.

Something that reflects in poor representation of Muslim women in workforce. In 2001, there were just 14.1 per cent Muslim women doing some kind of job which only marginally rose to 14.8 per cent in the Census 2011.

A study by the Indian Institute of Public Administration quoting 2007-08 NSSO data found that there were just 1.5 per cent Muslim women who possessed qualification above higher secondary while majority of them were educated till the upper primary level (around 42 per cent).

UNDERAGE MARRIAGES AND INSTANT DIVORCE: TRIPLE TALAQ IS A SOCIAL MALAISE

Census 2011 also reveals that 13.5 per cent of Muslim women are married before 15 years of age and 49 per cent between 14 to 19 years.

Overall, around 80 per cent of Muslim women are married by the age of 21 and most of them are either illiterate or barely literate to build independent careers.

Also, Census data shows we are staring at a social anathema where more than 50 per cent Muslim girls are forced in underage marriages. It seems as if they are raised only for this exclusive purpose, i.e., get married, become a housewife and spend the whole life under the threat of a husband who can divorce you at his mere whim.

Almost 80 per cent divorced among the Indian Muslims are women, i.e., four divorced Muslim women for every divorced Muslim man, IndiaSpend reports.

Most of them were divorced orally, an instant ‘talaq-talaq-talaq’ was spoken to almost 66 per cent of them.

7.6 per cent were sent letters by their husbands proclaiming divorce while 3.4 per cent were given the shock of their life over phone, the data available shows.

Around 1 per cent of Muslim men also used SMS and email to reveal their designs.

95 per cent of these arbitrarily divorced women don’t get any compensation or maintenance from their husbands, a survey by the BMMA reveals. The BMMA survey also says 92 per cent Muslim women want triple talaq banned.

The Supreme Court, while delivering its landmark decision in the Shah Bano case in 1985, that recognised a Muslim woman’s right to alimony, had commented, “Whether the spouses are Hindus or Muslims, Christians or Parsis, pagans or heathens, is wholly irrelevant in the application of the provisions on maintenance given to wife who is unable to maintain herself.”

Though the Supreme Court decision was overturned by the Rajiv Gandhi government within a year by enacting he Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce Act), 1986, the case became a rallying point for women voices from within the Muslim community for their rights.

©SantoshChaubey

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INSTANT TRIPLE TALAQ BAN IS A WELCOME MOVE BUT IT CANNOT HELP MUCH..

The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, banned instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat terming it unconstitutional. It’s a big step given the menace the instant practice of triple talaq had become. If we see the suppoting data divorce trend in the Muslim community, we can see the overarching shadow of instant triple talaq.

Almost 80 per cent divorced among the Indian Muslims are women, i.e., four divorced Muslim women for every divorced Muslim man, IndiaSpend reports. And most of them were divorced orally – almost 66 per cent of them. 7.6 per cent were sent letters by their husbands proclaiming divorce while 3.4 per cent were given the shock of their life over phone, the data available shows. Around 1 per cent of Muslim men also used SMS and email to reveal their designs.

And 95 per cent of these arbitrarily divorced women don’t get any compensation or maintenance from their husbands, a survey by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) reveals. Though some reports have questioned contradictions in different BMMA studies, the cause of triple talaq is genuine one and we can quote BMMA reports to support arguments here.

But even if the SC decision banning instant triple talaq is historical and precedent setting, it will not help Muslim women much till their pathetic condition in the Muslim community is addressed; till triple talaq is totally abolished and like other religious communities, the Muslim divorce is also subjected mandatorily to the laws of the land; and till polygamy in the Muslim community is banned and it is placed under the Uniform Civil Code not allowing more than one marriage.

According to the Census 2011, almost 81 per cent of Muslim women are married by 21. So most of them are devoid of higher education that can ensure independent, professional career. If we split this 81 per cent further, it reveals a scenario that is even more horrible – 62.5 per cent of Muslim women are married by the age of 19 – an age-group for school goers mostly.

With 13.5 per cent Muslim girls married before 15, we are staring at a social anathema where more than 50 per cent Muslim girls are forced in under-age marriages, as if they are raised only for this exclusive purpose, i.e., get married, become a house wife and spend the whole life under the threat of a husband who can divorce you at mere his whim. The whole Muslim community is responsible for systematically killing aspirations of Muslim women through this vicious cycle.

Something, that reflects in poor representation of Muslim women in workforce. In 2001, there were just 14.1 per cent Muslim women doing some kind of job which only marginally rose to 14.8 per cent in the Census 2011.

And why it would not be so. Almost half of Muslim women are still illiterate. A study by the Indian Institute of Public Administration quoting 2007-08 NSSO data found that there were just 1.5 per cent Muslim women who possessed qualification above higher secondary while majority of them were upper primary educated (around 42 per cent). And there is not much to console even after a decade of this data.

So, they are methodically made handicapped so that they cannot make their life and career on their own and when this discrimination meets the archaic, exploitative mindset of the Patriarchal Muslim community which prides in nurturing anti women practices like triple talaq, they are finally pushed to a life of no existence.

The apex court has banned instant triple talaq but Muslim man can still say talaq, talaq, talaq spread over three months and his wife cannot go to a court against it. The prevailing Muslim law doesn’t allow her. Banning instant triple talaq may help in cases of impulsive decisions but what about decisions that reek of designs in making?

Muslim men, free from the fear of legal tentacles, will still use their arbitrary might in throwing Muslim women out of their lives if they have decided. The only solution to this is the legal dissolution of Muslim marriages with court driven legal mandates, like happens in other communities.

Polygamy in the Muslim community adds another worrying dimension to it. Suppose the community, through social interventions and pressure, reforms it to the extent that Muslim men start avoiding divorcing their wives through the triple talaq route.

But what about the inherent countermove it involves. As a Muslim man is allowed to practice polygamy, i.e., having more than one wife, he will simply ignore the wife whom he wanted to divorce through triple talaq and can very well go his other wife (wives) that will make the life of the woman even more miserable.

She cannot go to social institutions. She cannot go to courts. And as she has not been divorced yet by her husband, even if her married life has already been broken, she will find it difficult to reach out even to her immediate family.

©SantoshChaubey

WHATS TRENDING ON 65TH REPUBLIC DAY: INDIA, THE RAPE CAPITAL!

Saying so — It is not fashionable. It is not patronizing. It is not as looking down on some lesser important ally. It is not biased. It is rooted in deeply disturbing trends.

When the world, when the global community, when the rich nations that constitute for the bulk of the tourist inflow in India – when they warn their citizens on traveling in India, labeling the world’s largest democracy as the rape capital of the world, it has reasons, reasons that should have ashamed us to take corrective measures long ago.

And ‘taking corrective measurers’ is not just about formulating some policies. We have had many policies strong enough to check and put the effective control. In fact, an already robust legal framework was given even more teeth after the December 16, 2012 gang rape of Delhi.

But, the number of rape cases, or to say the number of reported rape cases, has increased significantly since then.

‘Taking corrective’ measures must mean implementing the measures to correct the system, and that must be ‘without delay’.

The task at hand becomes even more herculean with the fact that it is a mindset problem of a male dominated society where, in spite of all the progresses and the claims thus made, women are still treated as lesser, inferior counterparts, that further pushes for their stereotyping and commoditizing as objects, to be used, to be exploited, by the sick and perverted male mentalities.

The devil was always there, cryptically exposed, dwarfed by the inhibitions of a patriarchal society. Now, with chronically increased number of rape cases, it is telling us it doesn’t care what the morality thinks about it. It, in fact, is boasting its perversion with a shameless new audacity.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/