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'Secular parties never helped Muslim women'

September 19, 2018 16:47 IST

'It is a welcome development, but the ordinance has limited validity of six months, that is the problem.'
'Therefore, we are urging all political parties including the Congress to collaborate and bring a law.'

Unable to clear the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill in the Rajya Sabha where it lacks a majority, the Narendra Damodardas Modi government on Wednesday, September 19, promulgated an ordinance to make the practice of instant triple talaq a penal offence.

The government's move to usher in legislation outlawing the practice came after the Supreme Court annulled the practice as unconstitutional in August 2017.

However, the measure met with stiff resistance from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board as well as some Opposition parties, especially over the proposal to criminalise the practise and prescribe a jail term for offenders.

"If a Muslim man is so afraid of triple talaq, he should desist from it," Zakia Nizami Soman, below, a founder member of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan who has long been battling for reform in Muslim personal law and gender equality, tells's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.


Your first reaction on the government's decision to bring an ordinance on instant talaq?

We badly need a law on triple talaq and there is no doubt about it.

The problem is that ideally there should have been collaboration between all political parties and all the stake-holders.

This should have come through the regular route.

But unfortunately (it) did not happen, owing to politics and the relationship between the government and the Opposition.

Gender justice was not a priority for any of the political parties.

On the other hand, Muslim women need this kind of legal protection.

The law (is fine) (but) yes, but the methodology (taking the ordinance route) is totally flawed.

Wasn't the ordinance route the only option before the government as there was no common ground among all parties?

Yes, it was needed.

In fact this law should have been brought up many years ago.

In the 1950s, when Parliament was bringing up Hindu family laws and amending the Christian Marriage Act (this law should have been brought).

But the government did not touch triple talaq then and did not pass a law against it.

But it is better late than never.

It is a welcome development, but the ordinance has limited validity of six months, that is the problem.

Therefore, we are urging all political parties including the Congress to collaborate and bring a law.

The Congress party's objection was that the government's bill criminalised instant triple talaq, it did not want that.

They (the government) are suggesting that amendments are there and as per the amendments only the wife or wife's family can file an FIR (first information report) on triple talaq.

It is not happening for the first time.

Even the dowry law is criminalised, and the same with the domestic violence law.

Even in Hindu law, bigamy is a criminal offence.

Criminalisation in laws related women is nothing new.

There are also allegations that the triple talaq law was anti-men and was brought up only to harass Muslim men.

That is the propaganda of the patriarchal elements.

For them women's equality is not a priority.

When Muslim men are committing offences against their own wife, then they are not bothered about such things.

When women are running from pillar to post, that time these patriarchal elements are not bothered.

When women become destitute with their children due to triple talaq, these patriarchal elements are not bothered.

When women have no other place to go, these people are not bothered.

But when there is punishment for indulging in triple talaq, these patriarchal elements are bothered.

So you take up all the laws which are (related to)women, there is punishment, which includes dowry, bigamy and domestic violence.

Men can go on doing offences, but women cannot have justice -- is that what they are trying to say?

According to the ordinance, blood relatives of an instant triple talaq victim can also file a case against the husband. What are the chances that this won't be misused?

No, it is not like that.

The complaint will be looked at by a magistrate who will look into the merits of the case.

It is only then that there will be arrest or bail.

Both are possible.

Today also it is happening in bigamy and dowry cases.

This (also) means you do not trust Muslim women.

You are saying that women are all villains, anti-socials and just go on complaining against their husbands.

If you look at history, it is the men who are offenders and not the women.

If a Muslim man is so afraid of triple talaq, he should desist from it.

If it is progressive, why are the Opposition parties opposing this law?

Because it is politics.

This law is very welcome.

We have been demanding this from very long.

The instant triple talaq issue has been in the headlines for more than a year now. Has the number of cases come down?

There are cases of instant triple talaq even now.

Women are coming to us with such issues.

It is only in some places where there is awareness that instant triple talaq cases have reduced, but not as a rule.

Do you think this ordinance has been brought in more for political reasons rather than for the good of Muslim women -- as the Opposition parties claim?

Those political parties who call themselves secular never passed this triple talaq (law) for so many years.

Now there is a political party which is Hindutva-based and they are bringing in this law.

Therefore, I would not want to comment further on this.

I am speaking behalf of Muslim women.

They want legal protection and I welcome this law.

Secular parties never helped Muslim women.

Kindly note the lead image has been published only for representational purposes.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai