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Muslim Women in India feel secure under Sharia Law and do not want Uniform Civil Code, says AIMPLB

AIMPLB has submitted an affidavit to the apex court stating that though triple talaq is "undesirable" and according to Islam it is "permissible"

A woman wearing burqa. Wikimedia

New Delhi, Oct 29, 2016: All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) claimed today that Muslim women in India doesn’t feel insecure under the Sharia law and therefore they do not want a Uniform Civil Code. The statement came amid a raging debate on ‘triple talaq’ practice.

“It is not the personal law board or the women in it, who are against the proposed Uniform Civil Code, but Muslim women in general in the country do not want it. They feel safe and secure under the Sharia law,” Kamal Faruqui, a member of AIMPLB said to PTI.

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According to PTI report, the issue of immediate divorce or the triple talaq practice is at present the subject of a Supreme Court case and with the Centre, and some Muslim women organisations are seeking a ban on the practice on the grounds of being discriminatory to women.

In its opposition to the move, AIMPLB has submitted an affidavit to the apex court stating that though triple talaq is “undesirable” and according to Islam it is “permissible.”

The Board has already started a signature campaign in support of the practice.

According to PTI, Faruqui claimed, “the campaign has already got support from Muslim women in Rajasthan, Gujarat, UP, Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. And, in many cases, where our members are not there, we are getting good support from them, mostly spontaneous.”

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Asma Zehra, an executive member of the AIMPLB claimed that Muslim women from across the country were coming together to demand that the personal law will be protected and they have no issues following the Sharia Law.

According to PTI report, Zehra also asserted that “the incidences of divorce in Muslim community is much lower compared to other ones. Also, women have maintenance rights even after the divorce. They can also go for remarriage to begin a new life. The women feel much secure under the Sharia law and do not wish to be governed under a Uniform Civil Code.”

“We are also getting a good response from women in small villages and cities,” she said.

Zehra also hit out at right wing groups for fueling the debate.

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She further added, “the PM was right when he said this is not a ‘Hindu-Muslim’ issue. This is an issue created by the RSS. As citizens, Indians need to decide whether we want to follow the Constitution, which gives us religious rights, or some vested saffron agenda.”

On the other hand, many women activists have slammed the board for its counter-affidavit, saying the Muslim body has “turned a blind eye” to the plight of women suffering due to this biased practice.

Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), which is one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court against triple talaq, said to PTI, “No one can stop the citizen of this country from approaching the court. That is a right Muslim women also have.”

However, Zehra alleged that the groups opposing the Triple Talaq practice were “tools of BJP”.

BMMA rejecting the charge said, “AIMPLB has been completely obstinate and there is no point talking to bodies like these.”

– prepared by NewsGram Team with PTI inputs.

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Triple Talaq verdict is a small victory. But there are more battles to be won

Are the divorced Indian women getting their due?

Triple Talaq was a harmful practice faced by Muslim women
Triple Talaq was a harmful practice faced by Muslim women. Pixabay
  • Women are asked to compromise for the sake of family honor, children, not being financially independent and many such reasons
  • It’s a tough decision for Indian women to file for a divorce even if their marriages have been exploitative, oppressive or unhappy
  • The problems are most dreadful for women whose marriages have not been formally ended

 New Delhi, September 3, 2017: Supreme Court’s verdict on Triple Talaq case is like a ray of sunshine. The verdict has been welcomed, applauded and celebrated all across India by the people who advocate for women’s rights. Judgement on Triple Talaq has been possible because of courage shown by strong Muslim women to change the course of their lives and a long struggle of groups such as the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan who did not put their foot down in spite of having to face pressure, threats from the Muslim community and outside of it.

Reactions women in country face when they consider getting a divorce

There are many other societies where higher rates of divorce are often equated with an expression of choice that women possess and the liberation of women. But, sadly this is not the case with India as divorce evokes dark, shameful reactions, taunts, rage, and pity from the society, often a woman is blamed for it. It is not considered as a suitable option for women suffering from unhappy marriages, they are asked to work it out, to solve the differences even if there’s no easy solution to it. They are asked to compromise for the sake of family honor, children, not being financially independent and many such reasons.

Why do Indian women hesitate from taking a Divorce?

It’s a tough decision for Indian women to file for a divorce even if their marriages have been exploitative, oppressive or unhappy. One reason for this could be the low status of women or not enough respect and value given to them in the society, especially rural India. Another reason is that the women who have low income don’t spend their independent share on themselves out of guilt, they utilize most it in taking care of their homes and save the rest. Also, some regressive and unequal practices are still going on like inheritance, asset ownership which means that no matter which religion a woman belongs to they are denied access to owning assets.

It means that most often than not an end of marriage leaves women with a financial crisis, along with emotional pain, on top of that they not only have to manage their own life but also their children’s without much financial aid.

Divorce Percentage

According to 2011 census on Indians marital status, “among divorced Indian women, 68% are Hindu, and 23.3%, Muslim.” This implies that more Hindu women are getting divorced than Muslim women.

The State governments have failed to empower Muslim women, issues related to their rights and needs are hardly addressed by politicians. Thus their social and economic conditions are degrading- they have unequal access to job, education and other opportunities in life.

More failed marriages were recorded in rural India with 8.5 lakh divorced persons and in urban India, the number is 5.03 lakh divorced persons. Maharashtra has the highest number of divorced citizens which is 2.09 lakh persons. The state which holds the record of lowest failed marriages has 1,330 divorcees.

Negatives of Triple Talaq

A Muslim man being able to end a marriage by a means of disrespecting and utterly irresponsible manner of triple talaq (uttering the word talaq 3 times, it can be oral, written or electronic). The practice of triple talaq was gender biased and gave unequal rights to Muslim women. So, it’s a victory worth celebrating that this shameful practice has culminated legally.

Why is Separation more harmful?

More dissolved marriages in India happen through separation and not a formal divorce. It’s a growing concern as separation (abandonment by a husband) is more common for women in all religions than a divorce. It puts women in a more dangerous spot as they can’t ask for alimony as there is no legality connected to it, which further weakens their financial status. Also, their husbands take away their freedom to remarry. According to census data, “More women than men in India are separated (out of a marriage without a formal divorce).”

So, though triple talaq was definitely a truly intolerable practice, it is only one of the ways through which married women could be abandoned. There are women across different communities who continue to face problems of abandonment, also called separation without having a proper means to survive or lead a decent life.

Also Read: Ishrat Jahan, a Triple Talaq Petitioner Writes to West Bengal CM Seeking Security After Supreme Court Verdict

Effectiveness of Divorce Laws

Marital dissolution in India comes under various laws but more often than not, the decisions don’t benefit women in a big way.  No matter how strong or secure is the legal framework, the single legal right that an Indian woman has after getting a divorce- the right of maintenance from her spouse or alimony. But maintenance or alimony reaches them much late due to the ‘prolonged legal processes’ and they are sometimes provided with very small and negligible amounts. Another loophole is that the court doesn’t ensure regular payment from their husbands.

Obviously, the problems are most dreadful for women whose marriages have not been formally ended, who are separated and not divorced from their husbands. Even for those women who have a formal divorce, the courts (be it family courts or formal courts) turn out to be grueling and intimidating places to seek justice, especially for the ones who are illiterate, not much educated, or belong to poor families.

Struggles faced during and after a divorce

Taking Divorce is a tedious process with repeated court trips, cases getting postponed, and lawyers charging heavy fees and most important but sidelined factor- to deal with patriarchal attitudes shown by lawyers as well as judges. All these reasons contribute to women feeling helpless with wasted efforts, and even lead to dissuasion of women (by family, relatives, friends, lawyers) to pursue the cases after a point.  Those women, who have taken up employment (for financial security) after the end of marriage, even if their employer pays them very less, they get little sympathy from the courts regarding alimony.

This should be the focal point in viewing the triple talaq judgment by the court. Muslim women have been successful in getting triple talaq scrapped by law but the war is not over yet. Indian women still have to face difficulties in getting some alimony or maintenance which is due to them, on which they have a deserving right.

Also Read: Namaz Offering Mamata Banerjee Remains Silent on Triple Talaq Verdict

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act

But, there has been a setback for Muslim women, we are talking about the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986, also known as MWA. This was widely seen as a patriarchal response in response to the clamor by the Muslim men to the Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano case in which her former husband was forced to pay continued alimony to her.

“The MWA drastically limited the husband’s liability to his former wife. It stated that once a woman’s iddat expenses (covering three months’ subsistence) had been paid and she had received her mehr (dowry) and any other money or property that had been gifted to her at the time of marriage, the husband had no further financial responsibility towards her.”

This law came was criticized by women activists and others who were sensitive towards women’s rights. It was called a discriminatory law that singled out Muslim women and deprived them of maintenance rights which are available to all the other divorced Indian women. They were taken for granted and the act had some harmful consequences. It encouraged a higher rate of divorce in Muslim community as it allowed Men to get away from the marriage without providing any maintenance for their wife’s survival.

Revision of Act

As per MWA, the husband should provide “reasonable and fair provision” during the 3 month iddat period. A clause was further added in 2001 by a Supreme Court judgment that “during the iddat period, a Muslim man is liable to make a payment to his ex-wife that will secure her ability to sustain herself in the future. As a result, courts began to require men to give their ex-wives substantial lump-sum amounts or to transfer some material assets such as land, a house, or gold and jewelry.”

The implementation of the law made divorced Muslim women heave a sigh of relief and will force the ex-husbands to give a substantial lump-sum amount to their wives. This would thus release the divorced Muslim women from worrying over the unreliability and uncertainty of periodic payments (by law) for maintenance.  This might make them even better off than non-Muslim counterparts. But in most other cases of divorce, lack of financial support from husbands remains a big concern for them.

The war is not over

The point we are trying to make is that the problems faced by divorced Indian women are plenty, and they are because of the social, cultural, economic and legal practices that are still present in all religions. This Supreme Court verdict should be reminders for all of us to take note of this small victory, to keep in mind the loopholes present in Divorce rights still and should also motivate us to take up more such battles in future in order to make our country more gender sensitive. So, that both the genders can live a life of peace and dignity.

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Hope “Real” Issues Concerning Muslims will Also Get Attention: Swaraj Abhiyan

Swaraj Abhiyan's leader Yogendra Yadav said educational inequality, discrimination in jobs and housing, and framing innocent Muslim youth with terror charges are their next major issues to focus on

Muslim lady seeking for justice. Pixabay.
Muslim lady seeking for justice. Pixabay.
  • Post triple-talaq settlement, the Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj Abhiyan said that now attention should be given to other real serious issues of Muslims
  • Apex court should stop the abandoning of women without divorce
  • More attention should be given to the serious issues such as educational inequality, discrimination in jobs and housing, and framing innocent Muslim youth with terror charges

New Delhi, August 23, 2017: The Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj Abhiyan on Tuesday said with the triple talaq issue settled, now attention should be paid to the “real” issues concerning Muslims such as education, discrimination in jobs and habitation etc.

The Swaraj Abhiyan, while welcoming the Supreme Court decision banning instant divorce in one sitting by Muslim men, added that now anti-women rights practices in other religions, such as abandoning women without divorcing them, should also stop.

“We believe triple talaq is not only unconstitutional and inhuman, it is also un-Islamic. We hope that with the legal wrangle settled, now the country’s attention will go towards other big problems of the Muslim community,” the party said in a statement.

“Today, the Muslims across India are living in fear. It is high time that Muslim leaders and the so-called ‘secular’ parties paid attention to real serious issues like educational inequality, discrimination in jobs and housing, and framing innocent Muslim youth with terror charges,” it said.

The party also said that as the apex court had set aside the triple talaq, in the same spirit discriminatory practices against women in other religions, such as abandoning women without divorce, should also stop. (IANS)

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Supreme Court’s Decision to Ban “Triple Talaq” is a big Relief for India Muslim Women

The judgment of the Supreme Court said that triple talaq was "not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality."

Triple talaq
Activists of various social organisations hold placards during a protest against "Triple Talaq" in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (VOA)
  • The judgment of the Supreme Court is being hailed as a huge victory for India’s Muslim women
  • A panel of five judges representing India’s major faiths, namely, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism, delivered the verdict by a 3-2 majority on Tuesday
  • The judgment said it was arbitrary to allow a man to “break down marriage whimsically and capriciously.”

In a judgment that is being hailed as a huge victory for India’s Muslim women, the country’s Supreme Court has ruled that the controversial practice of instant divorce is unconstitutional and un-Islamic.

“Triple talaq” as practiced in India, allowed Muslim men to unilaterally divorce their wives by saying the word “talaq,” or divorce, three times.

A panel of five judges representing India’s major faiths — Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism, delivered the landmark verdict by a 3-2 majority on Tuesday.

ALSO READIf discriminatory Triple Talaq struck down, then new Divorce Law will come, Centre tells Supreme Court

The judgment said that triple talaq was “not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality.” They said it was arbitrary to allow a man to “break down marriage whimsically and capriciously.”

Muslim clerics, however, had staunchly opposed overturning “triple talaq” saying that although the practice was undesirable, it was sanctioned by the Quran and courts could not interfere in matters that pertain to religion.

Zafaryab Jilani of the powerful All India Muslim Personal Law Board said the consequences of the court decision remain to be seen. “How far it will help the women, how far it will go against them?” he told a reporter.

Many Muslim clerics and leaders have called the campaign to overturn the practice a political ploy by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to take away Muslim identity.

PM Voices Support

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced support for putting an end to the Muslim divorce practice, saying it is necessary to correct an injustice to Muslim women.

The country’s Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, called it an important step forward. “Traditions are not set in stone and have to change with times and the time has come to give women equality,” she said.

In India, which has a secular constitution, each religion is allowed to have separate laws governing marriage, succession, adoption, and maintenance. Muslims are the country’s largest minority and have long said the court cannot interfere in these matters.

Abrupt end of marital life

In recent years, there had been growing complaints from Muslim women that three brief words, “talaq, talaq, talaq,” abruptly ended their marriage via conversation, letter, phone messages and WhatsApp, giving them no voice in an important decision.

The co-founder of the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement, Zakia Soman, told VOA that it was a happy day for Muslim women who have suffered for the last 70 years. “The expectations of thousands of women were associated with this (case). So many have been eagerly awaiting to hear something positive from the Supreme Court.”

But she says the ruling marks just the beginning of a long battle for a social reform movement and gender justice for Muslim women in a range of areas such as property and inheritance rights and age of marriage of girls.
“It’s not now that everything is done. Armed with this judgment and some kind of legal protection, at least the mindset about legal rights for Muslim women has become accepted”, she said. (VOA)