According to Islamic law, husbands can divorce their wives just by uttering the word ‘talaq’ thrice
This law has been condemned by many organizations, and even BJP leaders
Triple Talaq has been abolished in many Muslim countries, but not in India
After receiving a letter out of nowhere from her husband, which read the words, ‘talaq, talaq, talaq’, 25 year old Afreen Rahman began the uphill battle to demolish the unjust Muslim law which allows a man to divorce his wife by simply repeating the word, ‘talaq’, thrice.
Thousands of other Muslim have to suffer the same injustice across India when their husbands decide to stop taking ownership and simply ask for a divorce instead of discussing problems. Even though this practice and the tradition of polygamy is not allowed by law in all of Hindu-majority India, things work a little differently in the Islamic community.
“I have moved the court because I don’t want any Muslim woman to go through the pain, torture and humiliation which I have gone through”, says Afreen.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is the legislative body that governs these matters for the 180 million people that live in India. This Board will oppose the law in court. However, this seems ironic, since the Board itself has declared that the triple talaq rule is non Quranic and called it haraam (forbidden). Despite this, it has passed a unanimous resolution urging the government to not interfere in its internal matters.
“We indeed condemn this practice. But AIMPLB being a moral body, it has no power to ban the practice. It can only advise or educate people against resorting to such practice”, says Asma Zehra, a member of the AIMPLB.
The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, an organization that fights for Muslim women’s civil rights, found that 92 percent of Indian Muslim women wanted triple talaq banned. The Andolan has recorded instances in which Muslim marriages have been dissolved by the most trivial means, like WhatsApp or Facebook conversations. Apart from this, several leaders of the ruling BJP Party have been fighting to establish a single civil code that would govern the entire population of India on a secular basis. They feel the current state of affairs is very unfair and demeaning to Muslim women in India.
Hilal Ahmed, an assistant professor at New Delhi’s Center for the Study of Developing Societies, is also highly skeptical of this practice. He feels that if the Muslim Law Board can issue fatwas to ban use of mobile phones during religious proceedings, laws can be bent for the well being of Muslim women too.
“How can a practice that is patently unjust be Islamic?” asks Javed Anand, general secretary of the group Muslims for Secular Democracy while talking to Religion News. “I hold the AIMPLB guilty of perpetuating patriarchy and injustice against women in the name of Islam.”
According to Professor Tahir Mahmood, the custom of triple talaq has been long abolished in many Muslim countries, and he feels it is not right that the custom still exists in a secular country like India.
-prepared by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter Handle: @saurabhbodas96
The internet shutdown in India’s Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, which shows no signs of abating and has been the longest lockdown in a democracy, is taking a toll on the local economy and has led to the loss of thousands of jobs, according to rights groups and analysts.
Access Now, a global digital rights group that has been monitoring the situation in Kashmir, told VOA the “loss of connectivity in the valley” because of the shutdown has been “devastating to the local economy.”
“India’s internet shutdown in Kashmir is the longest ever in a democracy,” Raman Jit Singh Chima, Access Now’s senior international counsel and Asia Pacific policy director, told VOA.
“The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce has gone on record to speak of the immense economic cost that the internet shutdown has caused to the region, undermining the very economic goals that the Union Government promised it would drive through integrating the area into the wider Indian Union,” Chima added.
The lockdown has been in place since August, when New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s semiautonomous status and imposed a curfew on the region, including shutting down the internet.
The government defended its decision, saying it was a temporary measure to prevent possible terrorist attacks.
In a televised address to the nation in August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The Kashmir decision will bring positive changes in the lives of the common man. It would mean the protection of Indian laws, industrialization, a boost in tourism and, therefore, more employment opportunities.”
However, opposition parties in the country argue the opposite is happening.
“You have redefined the definition of normalcy, the J&K [Jammu and Kashmir] definition of normalcy now prevails in the rest of the country. This is uncaring and unthinking government,” Indian National Congress said on twitter this week in reference to what’s happening in Kashmir and the passage of a recent controversial law.
India’s parliament recently approved legislation that allows Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who are living in India illegally to become citizens. The applicants must prove they were persecuted because of their religious beliefs in neighboring Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan.
However, the law does not apply to Muslims, which critics say is discriminatory.
Terrorism or protests?
India’s government, led by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), defends its continued lockdown of internet connectivity in Kashmir as a deterrent to terrorist attacks.
While briefing the country’s lawmakers in November, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, a close ally of Modi, said the internet would be restored as soon as local authorities felt it was appropriate.
“There are activities by our neighbors in the region, so we must keep security in mind. Whenever local authorities see fit, a decision will be taken to restore it [internet service],” Shah said, referring to Pakistan’s alleged interference in the region.
India has accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency of fomenting instability in Kashmir by supporting local militant groups, a charge Islamabad has denied.
Some analysts, however, say the internet lockdown is largely designed to prevent collective political protests.
“The stated reason [by the Indian government] was to contain possible terrorist attacks. In my view, it is largely designed to prevent collective political protests of any sort,” Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science and the Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilization at Indiana University, told VOA.
Other analysts, such as Ashok Swain, a professor of peace and conflict studies at Uppsala University in Sweden who follows Indian politics, said the reasons behind the Indian government’s decision to shut down the internet in Kashmir are multifaceted.
“As I see [it], the real reason for [the] internet shutdown is not to restrict communication within Kashmir Valley, but to restrict Kashmir’s communication with [the] outside world,” Swain said, adding the government is more concerned about its global image as a democracy.
“By taking away the internet, [the] regime is also controlling the local media and its publication as the journalists are dependent on [the] regime’s mercy to communicate with [the] outside world and to contact with their offices,” Swain said.
Sheikh Ashiq, the president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told VOA that there has been a rapid rise in unemployment and a significant drop in Kashmir’s cottage industry.
“Our handicraft sector, that is solely based on the internet, is at a standstill. As a result, 50,000 artisans are jobless,” Ashiq said, adding that the export of its heritage industry handicrafts had declined by 62%.
Experts say the action against Kashmir has led to losses in tourism, health care, education and in the communications industries.
“The state economy has lost more $1.5 billion due to [the] lockdown. Several companies, whose operations were internet-dependent, have been closed,” Swain said.
The internet lockdown “has affected education, health service and even regular movement of the people, creating a severe humanitarian crisis. Business, particularly fruit trade and tourism, have [been] affected severely,” he added.
Young Kashmiri entrepreneurs like Muheet Mehraj see a bleak future in Kashmir, as the internet shutdown has placed a cloud over future employment prospects.
“If something doesn’t change for the better with time or our internet isn’t resumed, then I don’t understand what I am going to do in the future,” Mehraj told VOA.
Many businesspeople told VOA they have been forced to leave Kashmir to earn an income.
Syed Mujtaba, the owner of Kashmir Art Quest, shifted his business to Delhi because of the lockdown.
“Eventually, my family and my own logic told me it was best to leave Kashmir,” Mujtaba told VOA.
“Now I am in Delhi, you know … in search of new opportunity … and halfheartedly so, to be honest. My heart is still in Kashmir and will always remain in Kashmir,” he added.
The government, however, continues to paint a normal picture of the situation on the ground.