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Triple talaq makes women live in constant fear of being driven out of hearth and home which interferes with their agency and renders them unable to protect themselves, says social worker

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, or the Triple Talaq Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha in December 2017, has still not been taken up by the Rajya Sabha. However, the cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance making talaq-e-biddat an offence. The ordinance will now be sent to President Ram Nath Kovind for ratification.

This is even as it dilutes three contentious provisions in the draft bill. The first change allows only a woman, or a close relative, to file a police case against her husband for instant triple talaq and the second allows her to drop the case if the husband comes around later and they arrive at a compromise. The third amendment makes the offence of instant triple talaq “compoundable” which means that the magistrate can use his powers to settle the dispute between a husband and his wife.

However, Muslim clerics and society heads were seen to be militating against the move even as women and women’s rights activists welcomed it. Mudda on Wednesday took up the issue with Anant Tyagi leading a discussion between Muslim spokesperson Razzak Wadud, Congressman Ajay Verma, BJP representative Saina NC, All India Imam Association chief Maulana Sajid Rashidi, women’s rights activist Tahira Hasan, journalist Govind Pant Raju and Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan Nishat Husein. The show ended on an interesting note, with the Hasan nailing the Maulana on the issue, and more specifically for falsehoods uttered by him during the course of the show.

Asked for his views, the maulana said, “The BJP habitually fabricates the truth. It has been saying 10 lakh women have gone to court over triple talaq, but where is the evidence for that number? The party is in the habit of creating issues out of nothing (faltu ka mudda).”

Hasan interjected at this point. “How can you say the women’s cause is a non-issue (faltu ka mudda)?”

The maulana responded, saying, “If the highest seat of justice in the land, the Supreme Court, pronounces triple talaq to be illegal, why make a law to proscribe it?”

“So you are championing the verdict of the court. But you were the person who filed an affidavit in the court against the banning of triple talaq, stating that Muslim women are not bright enough to look after their own interests,” said Hasan.

“I never said not to make a law. Make a law that protects the rights of the women, that protects them from poverty and harassment of all kinds, do not bring them to the streets,” the maulana said.

“Triple talaq makes women live in constant fear of being driven out of hearth and home. That interferes with their agency and renders them unable to protect themselves,” Hasan said.

The maulana was heard making a crude remark and was reprimanded by the anchor.

The standpoints of the others were as follows:

Wadud: If a man goes to jail, the entire family will break up as they will lose their provider and protector. There will be no one to put food on the table.

Verma: It is the duty of the government to facilitate social reform. But the BJP is exploiting the weaknesses of the Muslim community to its own ideological and electoral advantage.

Saina NC: The ordinance is not just for the benefit of Muslim women, it will promote fairness and equality of the sexes in society. The government has shown considerable political will in taking on this vexed issue. The BJP is for “sabka saath, sabka vikaas”.

Husein: I congratulate the government for passing this ordinance. It will greatly improve the lot of Muslim women in Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

Raju: Those opposing the ordinance are misogynists. The maulana who is now swearing by the Supreme Court verdict should remember that the Lok Sabha is also a hallowed institution representing the citizens of the country and it is the Lok Sabha which passed the triple talaq bill. As for the Congress, the party is no position to accuse the BJP of vote bank politics. Do not forget Shah Bano’s case. It was the Congress government which passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, to dilute the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case.

—Compiled by Sucheta Dasgupta

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