#TripleTalaqBill: Indian Parliament Votes Against Religious Talaq in Constitutional Law to “Protect Muslim Women”

As one of the few remaining countries that allows men to legally divorce from their wives through ‘triple talaq’, the discussions in India on the recent ban on this Islamic practice has been stirring up debate. The ‘triple talaq’, that was a part of the Indian constitutional law before, is the act of a Muslim man divorcing his wife by saying (orally or electronically) that he divorces her. Triple stands for repeating the word ‘divorce’ (talaq) three times in a row. Within Islam, the spouses cannot remarry each other after this, only if the wife remarries with another man first. After a divorce, Muslim women also have to go through their ‘iddah’, which is a period of three months, in which she stays at home, to make sure she is not pregnant of her ex-husband.

The Triple Talaq Bill

At the end of August 2017, the Indian Supreme Court deemed the triple talaq unconstitutional. In the recent rise of awareness on gender equality and women’s right, the practice was seen as a violation against Muslim women, as the divorce only proceeds unilaterally – through the act of the husband, without a mutual consent or equal way of decision-making.

As a result of declaring this practice unconstitutional, the Council of Ministers, or the Modi Government, a new bill was introduced, ‘the Muslim Women Bill’, at the end of December of that same year. In this bill, the triple talaq is deemed illegal, and, Muslim men who still divorce their spouse this way, can receive a prison sentence of three years for violating the Indian law and its secular constitution.

The Indian Parliament, and the people, however, are divided on this issue. Many governmental bodies who oppose the bill, use as an argument that many Muslim majority countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Pakistan and Afghanistan, is already banned. But also many MPs deemed the bill, stating that it is rooted in gender inequality.

At the same time, Indian Muslims and some Muslim MPs are stating that the ban on this bill and criminalizing this act is a violation of their religious freedom, which is a constitutional right. They demand to live their lives freely and practice their religion however they want.

#TripleTalaqBill

On Twitter, opinions on the Triple Talaq Bill are being discussed. Both those who support the ban on the practice and those who oppose it, are using the hashtag to share their view.

For Minister of State, Rajyavardhan Rathore, the bill is related to the dignity and rights of India’s Muslim women.

At the same time, some people aren’t fond of banning this practice. Some also question how Muslim women could prove that their husband performed the triple talaq. As the act often happens orally and sudden, there is hardly any evidence to be found. They see it as a bill that will possibly create problems in the future for these women, by not being able to prove it, and to men, by arresting them for something that can hardly be proven.

The debates will certainly go on for a while, as the issues concert both women’s right at the one hand, and freedom of religion on the other hand. However, the discussion gives an interesting insight on the changing perspectives on women’s rights and the limitation of freedom of religion, when it contradicts other human rights.

Written by Mayada Srouji

Mayada Srouji

Mayada Srouji is a 23-year-old student Gender and Diversity at the UGent and has a bachelor in Arabic and Islamic Sciences, with a minor in political and social sciences. She is interested in women rights, philosophy, literature and history.