The Islamic Sharia Law allows men to divorce their wives by simply saying ‘talaq’ three times, a custom that has turned into a cultural and political flashpoint in recent times.(AP File Photo)
The Islamic Sharia Law allows men to divorce their wives by simply saying ‘talaq’ three times, a custom that has turned into a cultural and political flashpoint in recent times.(AP File Photo)

Kerala to give free legal aid to Muslim women given triple talaq

The Kerala government’s minority commission constituted a panel under a retired judge as well as set up a toll free number for women to receive free legal help.
By Ramesh Babu | Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram, Thiruvananthapuram
UPDATED ON APR 12, 2017 04:43 PM IST

Women in Kerala divorced through the Islamic tradition of triple talaq can now receive free legal aid sponsored by the state government.

Kerala’s minority commission constituted a special committee under retired judge PK Haneefa to provide legal assistance to divorced women whose husbands invoked the Sharia law by verbally saying ‘talaq’ thrice. It also set up a toll free helpline number (0471-2315122). 

On Wednesday -- the first day of its sitting -- the committee received 21 complaints of women left to fend for themselves. If the committee does well, similar ones will be constituted in all 14 districts. 

“It is a boon for women who were divorced without any rhyme or reason under the guise of a discriminatory religious custom. After hearing my case, advocates asked to file a suit in the court promising all legal help,” said one of the complainants. Victims like her often complained that high expenditure stopped them from taking legal recourse. 

Retired justice Haneefa said the committee would empower women to challenge the reasons that led to the divorce and help them either revoke it or get compensation. Members of the committee said ignorance of law and limited freedom in decision-making forced many women to suffer in silence.

Last year while hearing a plea, the Kerala high court made a strong observation saying that the state was constitutionally-bound to uphold the dignity and equality of women before law, and it could not shirk its responsibility by remaining a mute spectator to Muslim women’s plight. Last month, the Supreme Court had constituted a constitution bench to hear many petitions challenging triple talaq. 

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