India’s parliament has approved a bill that ultimately makes the practice of the “triple talaq” method, criminal. For those unfamiliar with the practice, the triple talaq method essentially refers to an instant divorce that can be achieved by saying the word “talaq” thrice. This practice has often been misused and at times extends to sending instant messages or e-mails with the word “talaq” repeated thrice.
Assistant professor of Journalism at Aliah University, Mohamed Reyaz told VOC that while he agrees that the practice is abhorrent, criminalising it is nothing more than an attempt to further persecute Muslims in India.
“It is a practice that is abhorrent and we cannot justify it in the 21st century,” he said.
“However, it is not a very prevalent practice in India. Divorce in India, because of cultural reasons, is among the lowest in the world. Among Hanafi sects of Muslims, the triple talaq has been practiced…but in most Muslim majority countries, it has been banned. In India, among the followers of the Hanafi sect especially, they practice this ‘instant triple talaq’.
It is an abuse of Islamic principles – which Hanafi clerics have been justifying, saying its abhorrent in the eyes of the Lord, but that it is acceptable.”
Professor Reyaz, like many others in India, argues that the criminalisation of the practice will lead to further abuse and victimisation.
“The fear of most of the Muslim leadership and women, is that in India, the laws are very biased in practice, not on paper. By criminalising divorce, you’re bringing civil matters into criminal matters,” said Professor Reyaz.
“The law will be abused and misused.”
Professor Reyaz indicated that it is likely that Muslim men will find themselves victims of abuse and unjustifiably detained. As a result, he fears that many will be unable to lead normal lives and will be unable to attain passports and visas due to criminal accusations of this nature.
“Triple talaq has no legal sanctity in India. Why would you need to criminalise it? It’s got no other reason than to persecute and harass men in India.”