Triple Talaq is finally banned

Indian Supreme Court overturns controversial divorce law

"Historic" decision in India: Muslim men can no longer carry out lightning divorces. Celebrate women activists.

Up until now, a Muslim man in India only had to say three words to get rid of his wife: "Talaq, Talaq, Talaq". "Talaq" means divorce. There were lightning separations that were carried out with reference to Islamic tradition - in the presence of the wife. More and more often, however, the separation was simply communicated by post, Skype, WhatsApp and other social networks.

The Indian Supreme Court put an end to the lightning divorces yesterday. The practice, also known by the Indian public as “Triple Talaq”, was declared unconstitutional by a judge panel with a narrow majority. "What is sin in religion cannot be legally valid," the court justified its decision; this practice contradicts the teachings of the Koran. The verdict was tight: five male judges from five different religious communities (a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim, a Sikh and a Zoroastrian) passed the decision with a 3-2 majority. According to media reports, the Muslim judge voted against the ban. The government must now work out a new divorce law within six months.

"Finally I feel free"

The five women who complained against the law still rated the verdict as a success. As Muslims, they were all affected by a lightning divorce themselves. “I finally feel free,” said Shayara Bano, 35 years old and mother of two children, who was left in October 2015 by her husband after 15 years of marriage via “Triple Talaq”. Bano was confident that the verdict would “free many Muslim women”.

Muslim women’s organizations such as “Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan” had also mobilized against the law because, in their view, it violated the right to equality before the law. Indian Family Minister Maneka Gandhi described the court decision as a “big step for women”, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had also advocated reform, spoke of a “historic” verdict.

In opposing the law, the leadership of the Hindu-nationalist Indian People's Party (BJP) offered Muslim women an unusual support.

Debate about personal rights

In view of the ruling, among other things, the question of the extent to which the state may interfere with private life and whether religiously based personal rights are up-to-date is being debated in India. Around 180 million Muslims live in India; they make up about 14 percent of the approximately 1.3 billion inhabitants of India. India is officially a secular country, but allows religious institutions the right to decide on issues relating to marriage and divorce. This personal right is a thorn in the side of Modi and his Hindu party; he wants to create a uniform civil law.

Not all Islamic representatives supported the ban. They see it as interference and possible dominance of the Hindu majority. Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of the conservative party “All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslims” (AIMIM), an advocate of Muslim personal rights, said he would accept the ban. The implementation is a "Herculean task".

Plaintiff Bano now also hopes that the decision of the Supreme Court will be accepted by the citizens. And she called for the verdict “not to be politicized”.

(som)