On August 22, the Supreme Court of India, in a historic verdict, declared Triple Talaq as unconstitutional. The apex court has given the government six months’ time to draft a law on this matter. In the meantime, triple talaq has been essentially suspended, outlawed, voided, nullified.
But the patriarchal practice that gave Muslim men the impunity to divorce their wives at a whim by just uttering the word ‘talaq’ thrice, required a staunch fight by women who believed that equality is the only way forward for a progressive economy
The petitioners who fought till victory was declared includes five women and the NGO Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA).
In October 2015, 36-year-old Shayara Bano’s husband, Rizwan Ahmed, gave her triple talaq. A property dealer, he also took away her kids.
A year later, Bano moved the Supreme Court to declare talaq-e-biddat, through which Muslim women can be divorced on phone, text, via a talaqnama and even on social media, illegal and unconstitutional. She also sought to nullify polygamy and nikah halala (which involves the woman marrying someone else, consummating the marriage and then getting a divorce – after which she is able to remarry her first husband). She also alleged that her in-laws forced her to get three abortions due to which she suffered immense physical and emotional pain.
Bano’s husband opposed the petition citing that they are governed by the Muslim Personal Law, under which all the three practises are legal.
The Modi government had filed an affidavit against triple talaq based on Bano’s petition.
Ishrat Jahan, Gulshan Parween, Aafreen Rehman and Atiya Sabri
In April 2015, Ishrat Jahan from West Bengal was divorced when her husband said ‘talaq talaq talaq’ on phone and disconnected. He allegedly married another woman and took away their four children. Jahan made it her life’s motive to get justice for the discrimination.
That same year, Gulshan Parveen of Uttar Pradesh received a talaqnama or divorce notice on a Rs 10 stamp paper. Suddenly, she and her two-year-old son were homeless, Parveen had said. She also alleged domestic violence over dowry. She refused to accept the talaqnama, following which her husband moved the Rampur family court for dissolution of marriage.
Aafreen Rehman, too, was a victim of instant talaq. She claimed to have been physically and mentally harassed by her in-laws and later given divorce. She filed a petition in the apex court with the same demand – make triple talaq unconstitutional.
Married in 2012, Aitya Sabri was the fifth link to the victory against triple talaq. She was divorced on a piece of paper and moved the SC in January. Sabri has two daughters that she needed to provide for.
Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan
Founded in 2007, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) today has 30,000 members in 15 states of the country.
As part of its work, the NGO on a frequent basis conducts ‘Sharia Adalats’ or Sharia-based informal courts where Muslim women’s domestic problems are addressed by female qazis (Islamic judges).
A petition, titled ‘Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality’, was filed by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) which argued that Allah says men and women are equal.
Zakia Soman of the BMMA said, “We have reproduced verses from the Quran about talaq, negotiations and how it should happen over a minimum period of 90 days. The second argument is about gender justice. There is no ambiguity in the Constitution of India about all citizens having equal rights,” reported NDTV.
The Logical Indian community applauds the courage of the women who fought to protect their rights. The ban on triple talaq is a landmark judgment which will benefit thousands of women in the country.