Divorces are often assumed to be long, costly and cumbersome undertakings - while this is generally true, there are some exceptions to the norm.
Triple talaq, also known as talaq-e-bidat, is a process in Shariah Law by which men can irreversibly divorce their wives simply by uttering the Arabic word for divorce three times. There is one caveat to this - the man must be in a sane state of mind and reasonable health. That being said, this ability is not granted to wives making it a discriminatory and repressive policy against women. Since such a brisk event can dissolve a marriage, wives are often left abandoned without custody of their kids and nothing other than a tarnished reputation.
It’s important to note, though, that triple talaq is not - and historically has not been - recognised by many in the Muslim faith. 27 Muslim countries have it banned, including Pakistan, Iraq, and Egypt; the opinion amongst most Islamic scholars is that it is a despicable and shameful way of abandoning one’s spouse and should only be acceptable in the most severe cases. The concept has been, by and large, disregarded by those who practise Islam.
It had been valid in India until recently, yet a study conducted by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan found that 92.1% of Muslim women in India wanted the triple talaq rule to be eradicated. In July of 2019, the Indian Supreme Court finally passed the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage bill, which prohibited triple talaq as a form of divorce. If found to have stated the triple talaq, a husband could face up to 3 years in prison and a fine. The accused husband could pay bail, but only after the magistrate had heard his wife’s side of the story.
Contrarily, at the time of the bill’s passing, there were people in India who felt that triple talaq should be sustained, touting it as a “valid and effective” form of divorce. They argue that when couples seek divorce via the courts, it scandalises the reputation of both parties, making it harder for them to re-marry afterwards. How this makes sense, when triple talaq is also frowned upon, is unclear.
Unfortunately, despite triple talaq having been outlawed, many female activists in India have found the bill to have an adverse effect on the security of Muslim women. Since the swift banning of triple talaq, men have simply just left their wives rather than going through proper divorce proceedings. While the number of triple talaq cases has gone down, husbands have continued to simply desert their wives and families. While one is free to leave a marriage they don’t want to be in any longer, to abandon the spouse and children that rely on you is despicable and spineless. This leaves the wife with an unclear marriage status, neither able to pursue a legitimate means of divorce without their husband present, nor able to remarry as their union is legally intact.
It is disappointing that an attempted solution to the discrimination faced by Muslim women has been ineffectual, although as younger Indian generations grow with liberal beliefs, there is hope that this issue may be resolved soon.