Acting on a Supreme Court decision handed down last year, India’s government this week issued an ordinance banning a controversial provision within sharia law known as “triple talaq” that allows Muslim men to instantly divorce their wives simply by uttering the word “talaq,” or divorce, three times in a row in a quick manner.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi last August hailed the ruling as a “powerful measure for women’s empowerment” after it was made, but enacting the ban has proven challenging for the government. It was unable to secure approval from Parliament and still has another six-month window to seek approval from Parliament before the ordinance becomes settled law. Meanwhile, anyone found violating the ordinance can be prosecuted.
Supporters of the ordinance pointed to the fact that other Muslim countries have taken similar measures to ban triple talaq. Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s law and justice minister, pointed out that Bangladesh and Pakistan, India’s neighbors, have banned triple talaq. “The issue of triple talaq has continued unabated,” Prasad said at a press conference. He added that the government was aware of at least 201 triple talaq divorces since the Supreme Court ruling last year. “In a secular country like India,” Prasad continued, “gender justice was given the complete go-by.”
In India, the practice had spun wildly out of control with some Muslim men instantly divorcing their wives over social media or by way of text messages. Muslims represent 13 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people — about 170 million in all. The country is majority Hindu and citizens there are are allowed to follow their particular religion’s laws on issues like divorce, marriage, inheritances, and other family matters. Men who are caught practicing triple talaq could now face up to three years in prison for doing so, according to Al Jazeera.
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