Triple Talaq & Muslim Women in India

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Triple Talaq

The Supreme Court of India on August 22, 2017 declared the instant triple talaq and divorce as unconstitutional and arbitrary in landmark judgment. The practice of saying three times talaq in one sitting or over phone is the violation of Muslim’s women right to equality and against gender justice said by three of five judge’s bench of Supreme Court.

What does Quran say about triple talaq?

Talaq is a right given to men by Islam to divorce his wife in case if the marriage can’t be continued for some reason. It is similar to khula, a right give to a Muslim women to separate from her husband if she feels they can’t live together.

The triple talaq doesn’t mean saying or messaging ‘talaq’ three times and ending marriage. Rather it means the person has to wait for a period of three months. Within the stipulated time if there is change in mind or the concerned problem is resolved mutually, they sure can continue the marriage.

There is a serious confusion now days (especially in India) among the both Muslim and Non-Muslim people regarding talaq. It can never be said thrice at one go.

No Legal source

The controversy around talaq stems from how it is practiced in modern day societies. According to Islamic belief, it should be a deliberate and thoughtful practice, carried out over the course of several weeks. Yet, in its practice, men give the command without warning, uprooting a woman’s life.

Often it is said in a fit of anger. Sometimes, it’s delivered through the cold medium of a whatsapp message.

Decades long fight

This triple talaq petition before the Supreme Court is not the first. In 1985, women named Shayara Bano fought a case in the Supreme Court against her husband after he left her without providing her money to live on her own. Her husband was a well established lawyer. She was already in her seventies at that time and was left with a minimal amount of money per month.

The court ruled in her favor, but the case set off a frenzied response from Muslim religious leaders who saw the judgment as a breach against the religious identity.

This the first time in India that Muslim women challenged the Islamic practice as a violation of fundamental right. The Supreme Court also made a Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan a party in the case taking cognizance of the survey that said 92% of Muslim women want abolition of triple talaq.

Muslim Women in India

In India the situation of Muslim women is very bleak. Women have been socially, economically, physically, psychologically and sexually exploited sometimes in the name of religion and some time by the customs and traditions.

The literature on Indian women in general is characterized by three broad tendencies; it ignores Muslim women and considers their status a product of personal law and assumes sameness in the status and form of oppression, cross community, first the problem of omission with some important exceptions and most studies take notice of Muslim women.[1]

The minority location does qualitatively transform women’s experience and perception in a very distinct way and change in their status and role is central to understanding the development of the community.[2] And since Muslim are in minority in India, their women’s position is even worse because there is an attempt to safeguard he community identity that generally prevent Muslim women to participate in development processes. One manifestation of his is, as pointed out in one study, that majority i.e. 69.75 percent Muslim women do not want to educate their daughters beyond the primary level of education. Further many middle class women who have requisite qualifications are not allowed to seek employment because ‘community respectability’ likely to get smeared. This has resulted in general backwardness of Muslims and particularly Muslim women in India.[3]

There are numbers of disturbing negative trends contributing to worsening the situation in the case of Muslim women. Details are again avoided on the counts of their being too many and too obvious. The Amnesty International, Human Rights Groups and media have supplied ample evidence to these negative trends. These includes spreading violence particularly through communal riots, hate campaigns organised by vested interests, active operations of myth creation mechanisms, spreading women related crime, erosion of established socio-cultural regulatory structures, rampant corruption at all levels, crisis situation in governing agencies, expensive and delaying legal system, diminishing role of civil society and its ready posture to accept the stereotype portrayal of Muslim women, absence of uniform and powerful religious structures, fear of appeasement charge in political parties etc. [4]

Economy and Employment

Work Participation Rate

The work participation rate among Muslims women is lower as compared to other socio-religious communities in both rural and urban areas. Aggregate works participation rate in economic activity by women is lower in Muslim community. The work participation rate among Muslim women is much lower than that of women belonging to upper caste Hindu households where there are hardly any socio-cultural constraints in work.

Participation of women workers in women-owned proprietary enterprises is significantly higher for Muslims. This implies that the prevalence of own account enterprises run by women is higher among Muslims than in other socio-religious communities. Muslims women are mainly engaged in home based economic activity. They are typically engaged in sub-contracted works with low level of earning

The concentration of Muslims is higher in self employment activities and this share is significantly high among Muslims women. Muslim women have lower level of earning. General Muslim are economically and educationally more backward and the condition of Muslim women is very bad as they are educationally and economically more backward as compared to Muslim men and Hindu women.

Muslim women are suffering both from internal and external oppression. Muslim men practice what they themselves believe is Islamic and oppress their women and refuse to entertain any thought of change. Many educated Muslim women thus start believing there can be no liberation within Islam and seek their freedom through secular laws.[5]

Current Position

Present law in India is if differences are resolved within stipulated tie the talaq is considered revoked. If not than divorce becomes final after third talaq. Talaq-e-Biddat is when the husband says talaq in one go and it becomes effective immediately. It is irrevocable the moment it is pronounced. The Supreme Court of India stuck down Talaq-e-Biddat as un constitutional and against women’s dignity and rights. Instant divorce of Talaq-e Biddat is banned In 22 countries as being arbitrary. This ruling will ensure justice to Muslim women who had been victims of domestic violence and harassment.

It is also necessary to understand that things are not totally stagnant on Muslim women’s front. An educated middle class is emerging among Indian Muslims – though still small – which is well aware of changing society and need for change among Muslim women. The educated Muslim women exposed to democratic politics, electronic and print media, are becoming aware of their rights and no longer prepared to accept what is being imposed on them in the name of religion.

Edited by Dhruval 

Quality Check – Ankita Jha

Approved & Published by – Sakshi Raje

Reference

[1]  Zoya Hasan and Ritu Menon, 2005, In a Minority, London, Oxford University press, P. 3.

[2] Andra Beitelle, 1975, “The Position of Women in India Society” in India Women (ed) Devki Jain, New Delhi, Publications Division Ministry of Information Broadcasting Government of India,  P. 63.

[3] Asgar Ali Engineer, 2005 Islam Women and Gender Justice, New Delhi, Kalpaz  Publishers, P. 348.

[4] See, Syeda Hameed, ‘Women as Gudiya: Her Ordeal Amounts to Negation of Islam’ appeared in TOI, dated 4 Oct., 2004 P. 18.

[5] Asgar Ali Engineer, 2007 Muslim Women in Indian Society, P. 1.