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India’s Muslim Women criticize justification for Triple Talaq and Polygamy, tag it as ‘medieval’

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the court that triple talaq was necessary, saying men have greater reasoning power compared to women

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Muslim brides wait for the start of their mass marriage ceremony in Mumbai May 11, 2014. A total of 35 Muslim couples took wedding vows during the mass marriage ceremony organised by a Muslim voluntary organisation, organisers said. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR BEST QUALITY IMAGE ALSO SEE: GF2EA830FPC01 - RTR3OO39

– by Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI, Sept 07, 2016: Muslim women fighting to ban “triple talaq” divorce and polygamy from family civil law in India’s top court condemned on Tuesday  justifications given by Islamic clerics as “medieval” and “reeking of sexism”.

India’s Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition filed by women’s rights activists who want the judiciary to declare triple talaq – where Muslim men can divorce by simply stating their intention three times verbally – as unconstitutional.

The Indian constitution allows most religions, including  Muslims – the biggest religious minority group – to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a non-governmental body which oversees the application of Muslim personal law, opposes any ban on triple talaq and polygamy.

It told the court on Friday that triple talaq was necessary, saying men have greater reasoning power compared to women, and that a man giving triple talaq to his wife was a better option than murdering her or burning her alive.

The AIMPLB also argued that polygamy was a “social need” and a “blessing” as a lawful second wife was better than an unlawful mistress and added that it gave divorced or widowed women more opportunity to remarry.

“Muslim women in India have suffered because of triple talaq where arbitrary divorces declared over postcards or telegrams have been sustained,” said campaign group Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), or the India Muslim Women’s Movement.

“AIMPLB’s argument that a Muslim man can delegate his power of pronouncing talaq to his wife is laughable – this can hardly be expected to happen in real life if the wife wants a divorce but husband doesn’t,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

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The group said the AIMPLB’s justification for polygamy was “bizarre” as it had suggested the practice of a man having up to four wives stemmed from a concern and sympathy for women.

“The truth is Muslim personal laws – like other religious laws – flow from patriarchy and relegate women to second class status,” said the BMMA.

It said triple talaq had been banned in more than 20 Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh while polygamy was prohibited in Turkey and Turkmenistan among other countries.

Muslims make up more than 13 percent of the country’s 1.2 billion people, yet they are among some of the most marginalised communities.

Social indicators amongst Muslim women such as literacy, mortality and employment rates are lower than the national average, say activists.

Triple talaq is unilateral, arbitrary and contravenes both the constitution and the principles of gender justice in Islam, BMMA said. In India, a secular democracy, religious laws could not overwrite the constitutional right to equality, it added. (Reuters)

 

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    Polygamy should not be encouraged

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Ban ‘Triple Talaq’: India Criminalizes Centuries-Old Practice of Sudden Divorce Among Muslims

The bill sets a fine and a jail sentence of up to three years for men convicted of using the practice

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FILE - Indian Muslims protest against the government approving an ordinance to implement a top court ruling striking down a Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce in Mumbai, India, Sept. 19, 2018. VOA

India’s parliament has passed a measure to criminalize the centuries-old practice of instant divorce among Muslims and punish men with jail terms if they defy a ban on what is known as “triple talaq.”

The government said a law was necessary because there have been instances of Muslim men continuing to terminate marriages by repeating the Arabic word “talaq” three times, although the practice was outlawed by India’s Supreme Court in 2017.

The bill sets a fine and a jail sentence of up to three years for men convicted of using the practice. It will become law as soon as the president signs it. In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “an archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbins of history,” and it “corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women.”

The measure, called the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill, was passed in the upper house of parliament amid protests from the main opposition Congress party,  which opposed setting a prison term for offenders and wanted further scrutiny of the bill.

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Indian Muslims stand outside Parliament House in New Delhi, India, Friday, July 26, 2019. VOA

Critics of the law say it is a harsh measure that’s open to misuse and is being used by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to target Muslims. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad defended the bill, saying it was necessary to protect the dignity and honor of Muslim women and ensure gender justice.

The bill’s passage is seen as a major victory for Modi’s government, which failed to pass it during Modi’s first term in office. The bill had been passed by the lower house last week, but all eyes were on Tuesday’s vote because the government does not have a majority in the Upper House. It passed 99 to 84.

The practice of “triple talaq” has long been banned in several Muslim countries like Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan but continued in India.

Zakia Soman, a cofounder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) organization, which was at the forefront of the legal battle to scrap “triple talaq,” welcomed passage of the bill. “It will not change our lives overnight, but it would give strength to the movement for justice for Muslim women,” according to Soman. She said “it was a moment to rejoice.”

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If we don’t cry now, Triple Talaq, and such other vices, might go digital, and burn millions of households. VOA

Women rights activists had cited many cases where men had divorced women via letter, telephone and, increasingly, by text message, WhatsApp and Skype by uttering or writing the three words. They said what was practiced in India was a misinterpretation of Islamic law.

Conservative Muslim clerics, however, had staunchly opposed efforts to scrap “triple talaq,” calling it a religious issue that should not be interfered with. Although India’s constitution guarantees equality, it allows matters such as marriage, divorce and alimony to be governed by religious laws.

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Tahir Mahmood, an expert on Islamic law, said he hoped the law would act as a deterrent on Muslim men divorcing wives in an arbitrary manner. He said the practice should not have been made a criminal offense, but he pointed out that religious leaders of the community had failed to do anything to curb the practice.

Some scholars of Sharia law call “triple talaq” a travesty of divorce as envisaged in the Quran. They say the word has to be pronounced over three months and accompanied by efforts at reconciliation. (VOA)