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For or against triple talaq? Signature war erupts in Muslim community

india Updated: Oct 26, 2016 18:45 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
Hindustan Times
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Muslim women protest against the BJP government’s stand on ‘triple talaq’ in Thane on Saturday. (PTI)

At least two organisations working for the rights of Muslims have alleged their women are being forced to sign a form supporting ‘triple talaq’, even as a signature war erupted in the community in support and against the Islamic way of divorce.

While the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has launched a nationwide drive to collect signatures of people “to save and protect Shariat Laws” --- related to marriage, divorce and inheritance, women’s rights groups have come up with a counter-campaign.

The signature war comes against the backdrop of the Law Commission’s move to get feedback on the contentious Uniform Civil Code, a set of identical civil laws, and a government affidavit in the Supreme Court opposing ‘triple talaq’ and polygamy among Muslims on the ground that they discriminate against women.

Under ‘triple talaq’, a man can divorce his wife by saying the Urdu word three times.

Patna schoolteacher Shagoofta Khatoon said her sister’s in-laws have asked all women in the family to sign forms distributed at the local mosque.

“She has a family to look after. It’s not easy to defy the men in our society,” Khatoon, who has filed a case in a Patna court against her husband for divorcing her, said.

Read: Govt has no hidden agenda behind opposition to triple talaq: Law minister

Shaista Amber, the president of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, said her organisation was getting scores of such complaints, “mainly from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh”. Formed in 2005, Amber’s organisation works for women’s rights.

“Our members are distributing forms to women asking whether these discriminatory practices should be banned. We will submit them to the Supreme Court and Law Commission of India.”

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, an advocacy organisation, had announced on October 13 its decision to boycott the Law Commission’s exercise and resist the Centre’s attempt to replace diverse customary laws governing marriage, divorce and inheritance with the Uniform Civil Code.

India has separate sets of personal laws for each religion, and demand for overhauling these codes date back decades.

Mumbai-based Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan too has launched a signature campaign for a ban on customs such as ‘triple talaq’.

Read: Triple talaq row: There’s scope for reconciliation between Islam, modernity

“The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is indulging in fear-mongering. Muslim women are not against Shariat but are fighting against discriminatory practices. We are going to send a huge number of forms putting the voice of Muslim women to the Law Commission,” Zakia Soman, a member of the organisation, told HT.

The Muslim law board, for its part, downplayed the campaign by women’s organisations.

“They are free to carry out whatever campaign they want. We are not stopping them… but they are just trying to create confusion in people’s mind,” said Kamal Farooqui, a member.

Farooqui said the matter was “purely religious and the Supreme Court has no right to interfere”.