By Aditya Aamir
The average Jameel in India has delivered instant triple-T to his wife by smartphone, whatsapp and email. And not a single average Jameela has stepped forward and said she was thrilled at getting talaq-e-biddat.
Clerics, scholars and politicians who say the triple-T Bill, now roiling Parliament, leaves no room for reconciliation between husband and wife are lying. On the contrary, it is triple-T which eliminates time to reconcile. Instant triple-talaq leaves wives shocked, angered and in tears, utterly helpless. Her world crumbles around her. A sense of shame engulfs her as she starts imagining about the ‘other woman’ in her just “divorced” husband’s life.
Where is the time here to reconcile? The man might not turn up at home for months. And if he gets another wife, the wife he triple-talaqed can kiss her ‘meher’ goodbye and forget about alimony!
The SC when it banned triple-T and asked Parliament to draw up legislation, it was to make the ban watertight. The apex court might have taken into consideration the fact that triple-T leaves no room for reconciliation and that is why triple-T is called ‘instant’. Around a 100 new cases of triple-T have been reported since August 22, 2017 when the apex court banned triple-T. A law to punish the culprit would have worked as a bulwark against the Muslim man’s tendency to triple-talaq.
The SC ruling in a way directed parliamentarians to ensure Indian Muslim women got the same chance as Hindu women and Christian women have – as also her Muslim counterparts in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the time to work out a compromise with her estranged husband or in case divorce becomes irrevocable, the best deal she can hope to get out of the break.
Every argument to demonise the triple-T bill falls flat when accosted by this single fact. However much the Bill butts into the Muslim male’s preserve, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 cannot be faulted for addressing the core issue: No Muslim man can or should be allowed to divorce his wife “instantly” by thrice uttering the ‘T’ word. If he does he should be punished. Let that sink in first.
The bill denies the Muslim man arbitrary powers to divorce and get away with it. Both the SC and the triple-T bill say the same thing: Husband and wife should be given time to work around their differences and reconcile to either not divorce or reconcile to the prospect of irrevocable divorce. In other words, the SC wanted the Muslim divorce law to be at par with Hindu and Christian divorce laws.
What is striking is that Talaq-e-biddat is not even there in Islamic laws; and because it is not there in Islamic laws, the SC asked Parliament to make a law. But a law without a punishment clause will be dead in water, ineffective? It is in human nature to break all sorts of bans: curfew, for instance.
The bill, therefore, not only protects married Indian Muslim women from being cast out like last night’s garbage, it also ensures that the Muslim man does not even think of triple-T. A jail sentence can be a mighty powerful persuader. Those who argue that husbands shouldn’t be imprisoned because they ought to be out in the world doing jobs to provide for the family are in denial, indulging in subterfuge.
It is quite telling that Muslim men who resort to triple-T mostly always do that when the wives have delivered more than one child. Muslim women are vulnerable to husband-abuse on two counts: one, because of triple-T; two, because Muslim men can in theory have up to four wives. The reality is, with triple-T, Muslim men can marry as many women as long as he keeps the count up to four at any given point of time.
The argument that the SC judgement gave the BJP a boost is neither here nor there. It is ideology and my ideology cannot be held hostage by your ideology. If the BJP-led government said the SC judgement vindicated its position that triple-T was legally, morally and ethically bad; and went against gender equality, then what wrong was said?
The argument that the bill was drafted in a hurry can be debated from now to till when the cows come home. And whether “hurry” or not, as long as the bill has everything right, what’s the brouhaha about? Instead of crucifying the bill being in a “hurry”, detractors should find something substantial to nail it to the cross.
By the way, can anyone give a definition of ‘talaq’ other than ‘divorce’? If anybody is using the definition for socio-political and communal exploitation then it is those people who are opposing the bill as it is. And why are they opposing? Because if the culprit is put behind bars, how will he able to pay alimony? A completely flawed piece of argument.
The counter to that is if he is not punished he will have broken a law and he can get on with life as he wants to, there will be no compulsion on him to pay alimony or pay for the education of his children. He will in all probability marry somebody else and get caught in a new life.
The Congress and other Opposition parties are doing a disservice to the Indian Muslim woman by standing in the way of the bill. It is no longer about truth for them. It is not about leadership. It is no longer about India. It is like they are driving a car with the brakes on.
Supporting the bill in the lower house and opposing it in the upper house kind of breaks the heart of the Indian Muslim women. It shows how far down the Congress has fallen. For some reason the Congress has always let down the Indian Muslim woman. If it was Shah Bano with Rajiv Gandhi, it is Shaira Bano with Rahul Gandhi. Like father like son! (IPA Service)