India bans ‘triple talaq’ divorce

family law

The Indian Supreme Court has ruled that the ‘triple talaq’ divorce is unconstitutional.

The so-called ‘instant divorce’ developed out of the Islamic tradition of verbal divorce. In order to bring his marriage to an end, a husband just has to declare his intention to divorce three times. Usually these declarations are made over a period of months, but in the ‘triple talaq’ the husband makes all three on a single occasion. Wives do not have the right to end their marriage using the same method.

The triple talaq is banned in several Islamic countries but is still widely used among Muslims in India. It has become the subject of widespread criticism from women’s rights groups who insist that it can leave vulnerable women destitute.

But on Tuesday, India’s highest court declared the practice “un-Islamic, arbitrary and unconstitutional” by a 3-2 margin. They ruled that a husband should not be able to “break down [his] marriage whimsically and capriciously”.

Shayara Bano was the woman who initiated this legal challenge. She made the decision to do so following her own experience with ‘instant divorce’. Back in 2015, she received a letter from her husband which contained the word “talaq” three times. Two days later, her now ex-husband took her children away from her. But when she asked her local cleric about the matter, he insisted that the divorce was valid so she decided to challenge the very notion of the triple talaq in the courts.

Speaking to the Hindustan Times after the Supreme Court ruling, Bano said that her daughter will no longer “have to face such regressive practices when she grows up”. This was “a historic day for Muslim women”, she added.

Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that the lives of Muslim women in India were being “destroyed by triple talaq”. Now after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Modi tweeted:

He was not the only one talking about this decision. In fact, the hashtag “#TripleTalaq” began trending worldwide on the social media platform shortly after the ruling was announced.

Photo of the Indian Supreme Court courtesy of BMN Network via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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