Around 50,000 women and men, including 10,000 from Mumbai, have signed a petition to end triple talaq, a practice that allows men to divorce their wives by saying ‘talaq’ (divorce) thrice in a single setting.
The Bharatiya Mahila Muslim Andholan (BMMA), which has sent the petition to the National Commission for Women, said though supporters of triple talaq say the Quran endorses the practice, the book says otherwise.
“In fact, the Quranic method requires a 90-day process of dialogue, reconciliation and mediation before divorce. Women who have been divorced unilaterally are rendered completely helpless, as they have no say in the arbitrary process,” said BMMA founder Noorjehan Safia Niaz.
“We have written to the chairperson of the National Commission for Women to enlist their support to this long-pending demand of Muslim women.”
A survey of 4,710 women across India done by the BMMA showed that 4,333 want triple talaq to be abolished. The survey stated that many men announced divorce in absentia, without giving a reason. “When a marriage happens, there are various witnesses to it, including the Qazi. We are simply asking for a proper procedure,” said Khatoon Shaikh, Maharashtra convenor for the BMMA.
“When a marriage takes place, there are various witnesses to it including the Qazi. We are simply asking for a proper procedure,” said Khatoon Shaikh, Maharashtra Convenor for BMMA.
“In fact, the Quranic method requires a 90-day process of dialogue, reconciliation and mediation before divorce takes place. Women who have been divorced unilaterally are rendered completely helpless, as they have no say in the arbitrary process,” added Noorjehan Niaz.
HT looks at the stories of some of the women who signed the petition.
Salma Khan (name changed on request), 20, was shattered when her husband, a gym trainer, pronounced talaq only three months after their marriage in October 2014. Post her marriage, she lived at a 3BHK apartment near Khar with her husband, as her in-laws stayed in Dubai.
“I was only 18 when I got married. I was scared to stay alone in the flat and he always used to leave me alone in the house. He would not return home for days and even if he did, it was only post-midnight. I realise now that he had an affair before marriage which continued even after it. When I told my parents that I was always alone at home, my mother gave me a taveez, seeing which my husband and in-laws concluded that I was doing black magic on him. I was dropped at my home. I think it was just an excuse. I have sought Rs 10 lakh or a flat in Bandra for my expenses.”
Khan is staying with her parents and isn’t working. She hasn’t received any alimony. She has currently filed a case against him in court for the dues.
Shabista Ansari, 25, got married in 2012. It was two years after marriage that she returned to her maternal home from Gujarat where she resided with her husband for delivery.
“I always had a suspicion that he was seeing another woman. In 2014, when I came to my parents’ house for delivery, he called me up and pronounced talaq over the phone,” said Ansari.
Ansari, stays in a Ghaspada in Bandra East with two of her brothers and parents. Her mother does odd jobs that earn them Rs 3,500 apart from her brothers’ earnings.
“Today, I stay with my parents and brothers. I get no money for my kid’s care. I want him to pay at least for the son as we are solely dependent on my brothers and mothers’ earnings. I am not that literate to work either,” said Ansari who quit education after eighth grade.
The oral talaq ruined her life.
“I don’t know why I was divorced. I have no paper in writing that says we are divorced. If you look at my son, 3, closely, you will realise his mental state has been badly affected. He has seen his father only once. How will I feed my son? I want him to get quality education.”
Saira Sheikh, 36, a resident of Khar, said, “My husband got married to another woman four years ago. Nobody in the family knew about the marriage. The news reached us through a relative.” In 2012, before Sheikh could even think of what was to be done further, her husband sent a divorce letter through a qazi.
“I can’t read and write and didn’t know what it meant. I kept it with me until I realised it was a divorce paper. Now, I stay with my son and in-laws. We received no money at all.”
Sheikh wants the triple talaq to be totally banned.
“Divorce for a woman is very disturbing. I am not literate; my son (of 21 years) had to leave his education to work. My husband married a younger woman four years ago by simply abandoning us. My son went through a major mental trauma and has just come out of the shock.” Sheikh said most of these divorces happen because the qazis hear out only the husbands.
“When a marriage takes place, we are given papers to sign lawfully. So, why should divorce happen orally or unlawfully?”
Sheikh’s son is the only earning member in the family. She has not received any money from her husband, “I spent a lot of money on my son’s mental health. I don’t keep well either. How, does a family of four run without a regular income?”
Nafiza Khan (name changed), 32, a resident of Bandra got divorced in December 2015, after nine years of marriage.
The divorce came suddenly. Her husband, a shopkeeper, told her that he didn’t want her to be a part of his life anymore.
“I wasn’t given a reason for the talaq. Triple talaq is a crime as it has rendered me helpless. I learnt that he got married in January 2016,” she said.
“After divorce, it gets very difficult to earn a livelihood. I started with a tiffin service. My concern with talaq is, when you say there are two equals in marriage, why this privilege (to divorce) being provided only to men?” she asked.
She finds the marriage rules applied on her to be unfair, referring to a practice called Khula, which allows women to seek divorce with the permission of her husband, whereas, talaq (said thrice in one setting) frees him of all marital bonds.
Khan gets Rs 5,000 a month for her and her two sons’ maintenance.
“I have a minimum requirement of Rs 10,000 to take care of my kids. I hope to get that amount too. Everything around is so expensive. Cooking is the only thing I know so that’s all I could do to earn a living.”