For the first time in India the Parliament has done a good turn to the Muslim women, who have been living under the threat of Triple Talaq for centuries. A Muslim man enjoyed the privilege of divorcing his wife by simply pronouncing Talaq, Talaq, Talaq thrice orally in person or by wire, phone, email, SMS or letter and the marriage ended there. The man enjoyed the privilege of throwing out the woman along with her little children in the dead of a wintry night to fend for herself. He was not obliged to pay her maintenance. This method could be adopted for divorce even after the marriage had worked for 50 years.
The most humiliating, horrible and despicable part of this inhuman practice was the Halala. If the couple later wanted to patch up their differences and live together again, they could not do so. They had to go through a circuitous route of Halala, which meant the wife had to marry another person for one night, copulate and divorce him next morning before re-marrying her previous husband! It meant hiring a Mullah, who would facilitate the Halala for a huge fee. He would also help the woman find a husband for one night or even offer himself also if paid well.
Plight of the suffering of such unfortunate victims can only be imagined. Every married woman lived in fear of instant divorce or Triple Talaq without any hope of it ever ending.
Their pain was appreciated by the Supreme Court of India in the case of some petitioner-victims of Triple Talaq in August 2017. The Supreme Court held Triple Talaq as unconstitutional. The court left it to the government to bring an appropriate law to regulate it.
The Government of India led by an enlightened Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, showed the courage to bring in the necessary legislation in the Lok Sabha, surmounting all resistance from conservative lobbies and political interests. This landmark legislation was passed by the House of the People (Lok Sabha) by a thumping majority on 28th December 2017. There could be no better gift to the suffering Muslim women, who had been demanding such a legal protection for decades after the Constitution of India was enforced.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights On Marriage) Bill 2017 passed by the Lok Sabha will now go to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House or House of States).
Surprisingly the Congress Party also supported the Bill and the Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerjee chose to remain silent.
It was for no other reason but the clear understanding that the awakened Muslim women will not allow any political party to scuttle the legislation for political gains. A few fringe elements don’t matter, for they are specialists of expressions of dispraise.
The passing of the Bill in the Lok Sabha makes it abundantly clear that the Women in India will no more allow their rights to be trampled upon easily by unreasonable male dominance. It was the power of their democratic rights that won the battle for them.
It was the resolute assertion of their identity that the Muslim women of India won the battle against the collective might of the Mullahs, politicians and personal law advocates. Nothing comes in the way of the married Muslim women and their right under the new law.
It will only be sensible of all shades of conservatives-religious as well as political (like the communists)- to shed their resistance, embrace change and respect the opinion of Muslim women of India. There will be no going back. They will not be able to practice Halala anymore. It is in their own interest to modernize, democratize and acclimatize instantly.
The Year 2017 has given the best gift to the Muslim women of India.
The government will go down in history as one of the most enlightened, people friendly and visionary government.
Not surprisingly, the national English newspapers have abused their editorial space by advocating the case of the “husband” though they never wrote a word about the misery and untold sufferings of Muslim women victims of triple talaq. The husband has the privilege to have 4 wives at a time, but the wife has no such right. It is not 1 husband but 3 for just 1 woman. She is married to one person who divorces her even on the first night of marriage by pronouncing talaq thrice. She becomes a divorcee now. The husband extorts a heavy dowry from her parents to take her back. But the Mullah says nothing doing without his commission: she has to first marry another person and perform her conjugal obligations. It may be for one night or more, but she remains wedded to another person, who agrees to be her husband for a heavy price, so that he can divorce her after consuming marriage. She becomes a divorcee thereafter once again. She can be married again to her former husband, in a perverse custom called Halala. So, in essence, the victim remains 1 woman who goes to live with her third husband (forget he was her husband earlier as the marriage had ended and this time it could as well be a stranger for the third husband). Indian English language editorial writers are openly advocating the case of the Halala husband while pleading the case of the husband from first marriage, ignoring the criminality involved. They are completely insensitive to the indignity, pain and torture of a helpless Muslim woman! Do they deserve respect as journalists of the Fourth Estate? Can it be called “independent press”? The cost of such blatant partisan editorials is enormous in terms of damage to society, family, individual and values in life, without which living is of no significance.
These editorial writers (representing similar political & religious voices in defiance of majority of Indian Muslim women) supporting the husband cleverly withhold the crucial information that the legislation does not ban normal divorce as is permissible under the Islamic law or Shariah. What has been criminalized is triple talaq. Are the English language national newspaper editors and owners in favour of continuing such heinous criminal practice? Do they not consider Muslim women “equal” to Muslim men, as are all other Indian women? Do they want to abridge or snatch away from the Muslim women their Fundamental Right to Equality guaranteed by the Constitution of India? What low vision, men! What warped judgement! What a strange sense of justice or even fairness!