Victim of triple talaq apprehensive over jail term

Photo credit: Arjun Raghunath/DH

A Kerala woman, who has been fighting against the triple talaq as she herself was its victim, has raised concerns over the jail term prescribed in the law banning triple talaq, that passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

"If the husband is jailed for three years for triple talaq, then who will meet the maintenance expense of his wife?," asks V P Suhra.

A native of North Kerala, Suhra was a victim of triple talaq during the 1970 and she faced threats from religious fanatics for her fight against triple talaq, which was quite rampant in North Kerala districts like Malappuram.

Talking to DH on the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) law, Suhra expressed concerns that the three-year jail term provision could be misused to target the Muslim community.

"To my knowledge, there is no provision for a jail term for triple talaq or any such forms of divorce that were already banned in many countries. Instead of that, the centre should have ensured that all forms of divorce could be done only through court. Even as triple talaq is banned, still there is provision for Muslim men to get a divorce through other religious procedures that did not require court intervention, while a Muslim woman can only seek divorce through a court," said Suhra.

Suhra, who is now running 'Nisa', an organisation working for rights of Muslim women, recollected instances of triple talaq being misused even when there was no ban. A man who was in a drunken state wrote a letter to his wife stating that she was being divorced through triple talaq. Though the couple had no issues afterward, some people tipped off the local religious leaders about it at the family faced serious actions. However, with the fresh law banning triple talaq, now the police could even take actions in such cases and put the man behind the bars for three years, says Suhra who had also fought up to the Supreme Court against triple talaq.

Meanwhile, the mainstream political parties in Kerala were maintaining a tactical silence over the triple talaq bill owing to their minority appeasement strategy. All political parties were not openly opposing triple talaq but were opposing criminal actions like a jail term. During the recent Lok Sabha election campaign, the BJP has been highlighting the stand taken by the CPM and the Congress against the law to ban triple talaq.

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