The age old practice of “triple talaq” or instant divorce was made illegal by India’s parliament on Tuesday.
This form of Islamic divorce has been used for centuries by Muslims in India, especially adherents of Hanafi Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. It allows any Muslim man to legally divorce his wife by stating the word talaq (Arabic for “divorce”) three times in oral, written, or more recently, electronic form.
The use of triple talaq in India has been a source of controversy, with critics questioning the justice, gender equality, human rights and secularism of the practice. On August 22, 2017, the Indian Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional by a vote of three out of five justices. The remaining two justices declared the practice to be constitutional under current lawl, but asked government to ban the practice with specific legislation.
Using triple talaq will now carry a sentence of up to three years in prison, as well as a fine. Also, Muslim ex-husbands must provide financial support to their former spouses, who will obtain custody of any children involved should a couple agree to separate on mutual terms.
Prime Minister Nareddra Modi tweeted that “An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history.” He added: “In the name of appeasement, millions of mothers and sisters of our country were punished by depriving them of their rights. I am proud of the fact that our government has had the privilege of giving Muslim women their right.”
The PM tweeted prior to the vote in parliament: “This is an occasion to salute the remarkable courage of those Muslim women who have suffered great wrongs due to the practice of Triple Talaq. The abolition of Triple Talaq will contribute to women’s empowerment and give women the dignity they deserve in our society.”
Opposition parties had opposed the bill, suggesting it was designed to harass Muslims. The PM has been accused in the past of demonizing Muslims.