FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Renewing The Community
Updated:May 29, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Saumya Saxena 
 
 
When our only argument for protecting the custom of triple talaq becomes that “not enough people are affected by it”, we clearly need to rethink what we understand by the rule of law and democracy, and perhaps recognise the colonial undertones of the logic of “non-interference” in the face of injustice. In a recent op-ed in The Indian Express (‘Unimportance of triple talaq’, IE, May 29), we find a rather luxurious use of statistics to make the argument that triple talaq, in fact, occurs extremely infrequently (0.4 per cent reported cases in a quoted survey). Clearly, now not only do surveys place “your stats versus mine”, but also use data to trivialise the very real struggles of many women.
 
 
It is certainly true that triple talaq is only the tip of the iceberg — focusing merely on the “spontaneity” or the haste in which a divorce is given serves to blur the larger problem of how such divorces are unilateral, an exclusive privilege of men. What makes this divorce “arbitrary” is not simply the spontaneous utterance of the word “talaq”, but the problematic notion that women are required to qualify their decisions under the codified provisions of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, whereas men are not. The grounds for divorce for women are clearly laid out — men need not cite any.
 
 
Thus, simply de-recognising talaq-ul-bidat and encouraging talaq-e-ahsan or talaq-e-hasan, which takes place over three months for men, still doesn’t address the fact that women lose their right to alimony and maintenance if they initiate divorce themselves under khula.
 
 
The problem is hardly exclusive to Muslim personal law. It stretches across religious law codes. For instance, till 2001, under Christian divorce law, men could seek a divorce on the grounds of adultery, but Christian women were required to prove not just adultery but cruelty as well in order to get a divorce. Under Hindu law, even after codification, it was not until 2005 that inheritance and succession law anomalies were addressed. There remains scope for much more legal reform in that direction.
 
 
Thus, trying to stall the triple talaq debate by citing small numbers is simply diversionary. The logic of “hardly any effected parties” was precisely what was relied on when many argued in favour of keeping Section 377 intact; homosexuality till date remains a criminal offence. If anything, the fact that the provision is hardly ever used is evidence of its redundancy in this age. While the fear about the debate becoming embroiled in politics is legitimate in times when lynch mobs decide menus and laws threaten to criminalise certain food preferences, the triple talaq phenomenon is different.
 
 
For a substantial period during the debates on personal law, one of the most oft-repeated statements has been about letting “reform come from within”. What we are currently seeing is a difficult, but healthy conversation between co-religionists about the interpretations of the Quran and Hadees. Women who had long been excluded from membership to the clergy across religions are now not simply relying on their “constitutional rights” or protections from the state. They are instead challenging the monopoly of men over matters of religion. This is a moment that marks the emergence of a new Muslim woman, who does not cower behind an all-male clergy that dictates to her, her own religion.
 
 
It is heartening to see two women recently appointed as qazis in Jaipur; one glass ceiling less for the women of India. Women are no longer faced with the awkward and unfair binary between “rights and religion” to choose from. They are demanding both. Remember that Shah Bano, the woman whose case (1985) triggered a storm that led the judiciary to enter the domain of the legislature and demand a uniform civil code, had in fact withdrawn her case, much before the Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Divorce Act, 1986 formally overturned the Supreme Court judgement. Given this backdrop, it is extremely important to acknowledge that the new women’s movement is pulling off a bigger achievement, of attempting to salvage religion from the clutches of patriarchy. The numbers game must be rejected here. If the custom in question was sati, not triple talaq, would we still be making the argument that “very few” are affected by it, and therefore, it should be considered beyond the realm of judicial interpretation or legislative intervention?
 
 
While legal interventions certainly cannot be the finish line of feminist pursuits or social reform more generally, we cannot write off any form as discrimination as too minor to deserve a movement of its own.
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has confirmed his presence for the occasion. In an exclusive interview with INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS, Indonesia’s Ambassador to India, Sidharto R.Suryodipuro, reminded Nilova Roy Chaudhury that the first Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day celebrations, in 1950, w
 
read-more
The words of Ho Chi Minh  “Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty” rang true for the people of the erstwhile East Pakistan when, with increasing brutality, the West Pakistani oppression spread across the land, writes Anwar A Khan from Dhaka
 
read-more
In a significant boost to New Delhi's Act East Policy, India and Japan set up the Act East Forum on Tuesday as agreed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India this year for the annual bilateral meeting that would help to focus and catalyse development in India's Northeast.
 
read-more
  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated on Friday Washington's warning that “all options are on the table” to meet North Korea's nuclear threat while offering to keep the lines of communication with Pyongyang open.
 
read-more
The 15th trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China concluded in New Delhi on Monday with many nuanced takeaways embedded in the joint statement of 46 paragraphs. Reiterating that the forum “is not directed against any other country”, the statement underlined the importance of the establishment o
 
read-more
The first thing that one sees when a flight approaches New Delhi is thick smog that envelopes the city and its lack of greenery.  In almost all other major cities of India lack of greenery is the most obvious sight that one sees when approaching it by air.
 
read-more

Pakistan has agreed to allow the rupee to depreciate after holding talks with the International Mone­tary Fund (IMF) on the country's economy.

 
read-more

Two major global changes in the past year; the ‘Brexit’ referendum and the advent of Donald Trump, writes Sandeep Kaur Bhatia

 
read-more

It is also imperative for India to explore other regions for markets. Its trade deficit with Latin America has been narrowing. Also, its trade with Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala has increased, ...

 
read-more
Column-image

Over the last 25 years, India's explosive economic growth has vaulted it into the ranks of the world's emerging major powers. Long plagued by endemic poverty, until the 1990s the Indian economy was also hamstrung by a burdensome regulat...

 
Column-image

Title: A Ticket to Syria; Author: Shirish Thorat; Publisher: Bloomsbury India: Pages: 254; Price: Rs 399

 
Column-image

Gorichen, a majestic peak in the Eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 22,500 feet, is the highest in Arunachal Pradesh. Beautiful to look at and providing a fantastic view from the top, it is extremely tough climb for mountaineers.

 
Column-image

It is often conjectured if the reason for long-standing conflicts and insurgencies, in the developing world, especially South Asia, is not only other powers fishing in troubled waters but also the keenness of arms industries, mostly Western, to...

 
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699