A letter is better

Jun 02, 2016, 08:32 IST | Maleeva Rebello

Muslim women garner support to abolish heinous triple talaq practice, with epistolary flurry to state women’s organizations across the country

Upping the ante to garner support to abolish the practice of triple talaq, which has been termed as ‘un-Quranic’ Mumbai-based Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) recently wrote to the National Commission for Women (NCW) seeking help to make the practice that “destroys the life of women” as illegal.

Muslim women during a protest at Azad Maidan earlier this year
Muslim women during a protest at Azad Maidan earlier this year

A recent report stated that they demanded an end to the practice of oral or unilateral divorce or triple talaq and have collected 50,000 signatures from women and men for this, the rights group said in their letter to Lalitha Kumaramanglam, Chairperson, NCW.

The BMMA is a Non-Government Organization (NGO) which has been working for the rights of Muslim women in India. Zakia Soman from BMMA added, “For the past three-four months we have been working continually to end triple talaq. Our petition has not yet been admitted, but post the Supreme Court vacation, it will be. We want to mobilise all democratic and government bodies since large sections of the community want triple talaq to end.”

The NGO has more then 50,000 signatures on paper, which they have already sent to the NCW and that number is increasing daily. They want to buttress that with an online signature campaign, they claim, and write more letters to institutions. In this way, they want to create a climate of greater awareness which is conducive to abolishing this practice. So far, Soman says they have written letters to 15 State Women’s Commissions as well as the NCW.

The flurry of letters was sent between May 10 and 20. Soman adds, “Our state units, visited different commissions in Delhi, Rajasthan, Karnataka and gave them letters. We were heartened by the response in many States, which gave a patient hearing to the women’s delegation.”

Javed Anand, activist, and one of the founding members of the Haji Ali Sab Ke Liye andolan fighting for equal access for women into the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali dargah said, “Triple talaq is an inhuman, obnoxious practice that I have been writing against in my social media columns for the last 10-15 years. India is probably one of the few countries which still has triple talaq. Even Pakistan has banned it. The Indian Constitution allows men and women equal rights, but triple talaq denies women rights, it is barbaric. That is why we support court action.”

The BMMA wants the 90 day period of negotiation and reconciliation spread over three menstruation cycles, to replace the triple talaq. “Both men and women need to have a say in the divorce and the woman should get maintenance which triple talaq doesn't allow. The triple talaq idea is unIslamic and so we want it to end. We will be writing letters to the law commission, the minority commission and the Human Rights Commission in addition to the Women’s Commissions of more states, because after all these are ambassadors for women’s rights besides the 15 states we already sent,” ended Soman.

When Soman was asked about the fact that the community is usually wary about ‘interference’ from outsiders and Indian courts in their matters, citing Shariat, Soman stated, “We cannot leave things open to patriarchal whims and fancies of a few clerics. They use that as a pretext to evade accountability.”

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