Is The Triple Talaq Verdict Really A Powerful Step Towards Women Empowerment?

The Triple Talaq Verdict is undoubtedly a huge win for women's rights, but is probably not strong enough to serve Equality

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On one chilly January morning Afrin a 22 year old Shahjahanpur resident was lost in a happy reverie, scrolling down her Facebook timeline, featuring mundane updates on love, life and poetry. Social media was after all an escape from life torn apart from a turbulent marriage. That is when she came across a post saying “talaq talaq talaq”. The post was from her husband. She read the message several times while her three year old daughter scattered toys all across the floor. A few days later she received the same message from her husband expressing his determination loud and clear. As if the never ending demands for dowry were not enough to devastate a woman’s life.

Rubina a 24 year old married an affluent man double her age hoping that will provide her with financial security and will help her to support her family. But ever since she got married she received threats of divorce from her husband.

Gulshan Parveen of Rampur, Uttar Pradesh received a talaqnama from her husband on a ten rupees stamp paper when she was at her parents’s house. The English Post Graduate reported that she was subjected to dosmestic violence by her husband.

Israt Jahan a resident of Howrah, West Bengal was divorced by her husband through a mere phone call from Dubai.

I can keep mentioning thousand such cases where a Muslim man has divorced his wife by irrevocably, instantaneously and unilaterally pronouncing a word (talaq) for three times. But those days are past now. On 22nd August 2017 the Supreme Court set aside the controversial Islamic divorce practice of instant triple talaq or talaq e biddat. People across the country have lauded the judgment for striking down this regressive patriarchal practice. PM Modi wrote on twitter, “Judgment of the Hon’ble SC on Triple Talaq is historic. It grants equality to Muslim women and is a powerful measure for women empowerment.” But will this verdict really secure justice for Muslim women? Is it really a game-changer as far as “women empowerment” is concerned? The answer probably is no.

Firstly, the fact is that the government’s stand before the Court was that all the three forms of Talaq namely Talaq e Ahsan, Talaq e Hasan (in both cases the husband can pronounce the word talaq but can come back for negotiation once their “mood swing” is over!) and Talaq e Biddat (that is the triple talaq in a single sitting) – are unconstitutional. The court has clearly rejected this claim except the Talaq e Biddat. Thus the equality that people have been talking about is ironic because Muslim men still hold the power to invalidate a marriage whenever they want. And let’s face it, India has more than adequate laws and rulings to take care of such societal discrepancies from the tenets of the constitution, but the real issue is how to enforce the rule of law while the likes of Siddikulla are already protesting ‘against’ the verdict.

Again how can a Muslim woman or rather any women feel secure or hope for equality in a country where the Supreme Court refuses to accept marital rape as a criminal act? In our country women are still being burned when they fail or refuse to fulfill the unending demands of dowry. They are mentally and sexually exploited every day by their husbands and in many cases the entire family. And when wives are beaten and thrown out of the house the society without giving a second thought blames the woman for not being able to make the marriage work. Knowing that such viciousness still prevails in the society it is hard to accept that a ban on triple talaq will make changes in the power dynamics.

Moreover, maintenance is not granted to 95% of divorced Muslim women in our country. 44% women were divorced within three years of marriage through the triple talaq practice. 43.5% of these women are between 18 to 21 years of age, most of them having more than one child. With talaq e Ahsan and talaq e Hasan still in practice I wonder whether this verdict will at all be able to bring an end to such misery.

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