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.
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.
The passing of #TripleTalaqBill by Lok Sabha is a momentous occasion for the dignity and rights of India's Muslim women.
The relentless pursuit of enacting this law is testament to PM @narendramodi Govt's commitment to the empowerment of women.
— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) December 27, 2018
1956 Hindu Marriage & Divorce Act was passed. Earlier Hindu man could have more than one wife. Now only one wife rule was made. Those violating were jailed. Congress never questioned it but passed this bill. Now why oppose jailing those men who give #TripleTalaq #TripleTalaqBill
— Monika Arora (@advmonikaarora) December 27, 2018
#TripleTalaqbill by @narendramodi govt is a historic move to protect dignity of Muslim women ,to save them from uncertainty in family life & bestow upon constitutional rights. Nation apologises for injustice they faced in the past due to greedy vote bank politics of @INCIndia .
— Prof Rakesh Sinha (@RakeshSinha01) December 27, 2018
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.
Let this be very clear,we Muslims will follow our Holy Quran and Shariah.We will follow our religious scriptures and any law which comes in between us following our Religion is un-constitutional.Freedom of Religion is our Fundamental Right.
— Abu Asim Azmi (@abuasimazmi) December 27, 2018
Ofcourse @asadowaisi Sir. Well Said👍
Don't risk jannah for this world!!
— Mohammed Abdal Abdullah (@Mirzaashahi) December 27, 2018
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.