The Absurdity of Criminalising Triple Talaq

If the proposed Triple Talaq Bill is made into law, the welfare of muslim women will be more distant than it is now.

4 min read
If the proposed Triple Talaq Bill is made into law, the welfare of muslim women will be more distant than it is now.

(An ordinance on triple talaq has received Cabinet approval. In light of this, The Quint is republishing this article from its archives. It was originally published on 28 December 2018.)

The silence around the proposed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill is uncomfortable. By introducing criminality in a civil matter, it is only going to make matters worse for couples where Talaq ul-Biddat has been used.

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All through the movement which built itself up for abolition of the practice, including the voices of right’s groups, civil society, media and even the government, leading up to the Supreme Court judgement declaring it to be void, the crux of the argument was the welfare and protection of women.

The absurd outcomes of the situations that will result if the proposed bill is made into law make that seem an even more distant possibility now.


How Does Jailing a Man Help Aggrieved Woman?

According to the proposed bill, the proclamation of Talaq ul-Biddat will be a cognisable offence, non-bailable and can result in imprisonment of up to three years.

How on Earth is this going to help the aggrieved woman? The divorce isn’t recognised by law, and her (ex?)-husband has been jailed. Does anyone really think the man is going to go back to the woman after the completion of his sentence?

In most such cases, it is the husband who is the sole breadwinner. With his sentencing, the woman will be left to fend for herself and any children. Maybe there was some thought about this, so it has been proposed that the man provide a subsistence allowance. How he’d do that while serving imprisonment is beyond comprehension.

So effectively, the wife is left with a husband who didn’t want her to begin with, but who is imprisoned because of it, and now she doesn’t have the choice to not be with him either. In addition, she will have to face possible social ostracism from her family for having her husband imprisoned.

She will have to wait for three years for the man to be released from prison, so that they can resume whatever notion of family is believed by the government to be left remaining by that time.

Remember, she can’t remarry unless divorced. This can only happen if the husband is kind enough to grant her a divorce while imprisoned. 

Or well, she can opt for Khul’a. But if there is a divorce at the end of it, then what was the point of going through all this?

Financial Support to Women, Children Needs to Get Factored In

Such a move is only going to leave women vulnerable to other forms of exploitation. An extra-marital relationship, becoming somebody’s mistress — these are possibilities which can’t be ruled out considering she will be needing financial and emotional support.

Further on, in describing the reason for proposing such a drastic measure to discourage the practice of Talaq ul-Biddat, it is mentioned that since its outlawing by the Supreme Court in August, the practice hasn’t stopped. Thus, the Centre feels it should step in with legislation which discourages this practice.

This premise would have been laughable, if it wasn’t so dangerous. If heavy punishment were the sole deterrent, then all crimes which attract capital punishment and life imprisonment should have stopped by now.

This isn’t only about adding another way to imprison Muslim men. This isn’t turning out to be about the well-being of Muslim women either; there are many ways in which this could have been done in a much better and sustainable way — by focusing on providing them with better education and livelihood opportunities to begin with.

This isn’t only about Muslims either. It is about how everyone’s tax money is spent by an ill-conceived legislation, increasing the load on an already overburdened justice and corrections system. 

It is about how a police officer can enter someone’s home and arrest without a warrant for a matter that should remain private between two individuals. It is about how a government can keep making decisions without sound rationale or consultation with relevant groups of citizens, believing it alone knows best.

(Asif Khan is a documentary photographer and can be reached @as1fk. This article was originally published on Medium. It has been republished with the author’s permission. This is a blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)


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