India’s Supreme Court has ruled against triple talaq, a form of divorce in Muslim community used to get rid of a marriage by just uttering the word ‘talaq’ through any medium, be it verbal, textual or simply a WhatsApp message. The reason why it was opposed overwhelmingly and Muslim women fought it is because of its utter and blatant misuse and for being a practice responsible for other curses like Halala. This practice was also not in the spirit of the Quran but it was traditionally allowed. However, the concept of marriage is a progressive one in Muslim society and it is considered as a mutual contract between two individuals which also allows both parties the freedom to disown the contract. What goes wrong is that the Nikahnama (The marriage certificate or the contract) didn’t evolve with time and hence instant triple became a total misuse. Had the Nikahnama created more space in which spouses could have been had the freedom to mention the conditions and grounds on which they could mutually end the contract, today the Muslim marriage system would have been an exemplary form of marriage for many other communities.

The majority among the Muslim community has welcomed the judgment and said it is progressive and supports the struggle of women. It also indicates that Muslim women have awakened against the curses which were thrown upon them in the name of either religion or patriarchy. It is patriarchy that was behind instant talaq, not the religion, and even today the forces which have suffered a setback but are still dreaming about maintaining their status quo to enjoy instant talaq are those who live in the realm of patriarchy and not Islam.

However, since no law or verdict is the only source of our collective wisdom, hence it cannot wholly ensure the necessities to fulfill the requirements of human progress. Similarly, this ruling of SC still faces many challenges. For example, what if a couple mutually wants to end their marriage instantly, avoiding wasting months and years, or unwilling to knock the doors of the court and to spend unnecessarily on legal procedures. Moreover, as Mumbai High Court advocate Shaheen Naqashbandi has said that there is not much achieved through this ruling but for re-assertion of previous judgment asking government to frame laws. The Supreme Court has not said what will be the implications of violation of the injunction, and what are the consequences if a man still gives triple talaq in one sitting to a wife. Will contempt of court proceedings be taken out against him? What will be the jurisdiction? Will there be a punishment or penalty imposed or any other remedy for the victim (wife)?

The most positive aspect of this ruling is that it proves and brings into the light the fact that Indian Muslim women are awakened and fighting for their rights without the fear of patrons of religion or threats of patriarchy. It is their victory, not of any political party since it was their fight, and they have fought it bravely. On social media, we have witnessed that every corner of our nation has praised the battle fought by Muslim women. People are criticizing those who had abandoned their wives and ruined the lives of their wives by not showing responsibility to divorce them and to make them free to choose someone else and live happily. Moreover, in the battle fought by Muslim women there are lessons for women of other communities who are mostly victims of rape in the name of practice of the child marriage. The women of such communities need to unite and file petitions in respective courts first to challenge the existence of the practice called child marriage and second, press to make laws to declare child marriage as a form of rape and a punishable offence. The situation of marriage act in Goa is much worse, and it is time for the women of Goa to fight for equality and get rid of laws made under the pressure of patriarchy.

Lastly, it could be said that Indian women in general have greater battle ahead and such rulings are ‘not historic’ but footsteps guiding them towards their collective struggle against the menace of patriarchy. It is a step ahead for them to enjoy their independent existence at a time when patriarchy is trying to portray Indian women as those who drink cow urine for all medical help. Our sisters have to go beyond, beyond all religious barriers and fight against all odds of patriarchy to live as enlightened human beings, not at the mercy of a verdict or a court or a religion or a faith, but just as an equal human and woman.

Rahman Abbas

Updated : 23 Aug 2017 3:39 PM GMT
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