The Lok Sabha has passed the triple talaq bill this week making triple talaq a criminal offence. The bill which is now in Rajya Sabha proposes a three-year jail term for a Muslim man who divorces his wife by uttering the word “talaq” thrice.
Pertinently, the triple talaq issue has been one of the most discussed topics in the Indian polity during the past two years. Even those who were least concerned about the issue tried to poke their nose in the religious affairs of a community which is already alleging alienation in many parts of the country.
Earlier, the Supreme Court of India declared this Islamic practice permitting men to instantly divorce their wives as unconstitutional. The decision came after decades of campaigning by women’s groups and victims in India.
Notably, triple talaq has been criticised even among hardline Muslim schools and this practice stands already banned in Pakistan, Bangladesh and across much of the Islamic world.
It persisted in India because the country’s Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities are permitted to follow religious law in personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption.
The decision by the Supreme Court was however, is being portrayed in a different manner, with intensions that seem visibly targeting a particular community by those who have no understanding of the great religion, Islam. These intentions, though seemingly malafide are bound to get some reactive response as well if a well timed and well devised meaning is not made out of the court order.
To put things in better perspective we need to get deeper into the issues that are confronting the Indian society. Leaving aside, for the sake of argument, our religious identities.
A survey that can prove to be eye opener for all those who are trying to spread a bad word shows that the percentage of women staying in marriage is highest amongst Muslims (87.8%) compared to Hindus (86.2%), Christians (83.7%) and other religious minorities (85.8%).
Similarly, the percentage of widowed women is least amongst Muslims (11.1%) compared to Hindus (12.9%), Christians (14.6%) and other religious Minorities (13.3%). It is likely that the culture of widow remarriages provides a higher level of family protection to Muslim women compared to women from other religious communities.
The percentage of separated and abandoned women is also least amongst the Muslims (0.67%) compared to Hindus (0.69%), Christians (1.19%) and other religious Minorities (0.68%). The same census data suggests that the divorced women percentage is higher amongst the Muslims at 0.49% and Christians at 0.47% compared to other religious minorities (0.33%) and the Hindus, at 0.22%. The practice of getting a divorce amongst the Hindus is traditionally non-existent. Out of 340 million ever-married women 9.1 lakhs are divorced and amongst them 2.1 lakhs are Muslims.
The bill when discussed in the lower house of the parliament brought several important issues to the fore. One was the argument put forth by MIM president and Hyderabad Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi who said that the bill is injustice to Muslim women.
Besides, he raised another important issue about the 20 lakh abandoned women from all religions. This issue should have been a priority for the government as the issue needs immediate attention irrespective of the religion these women belong to.