These three small words can spell disaster for a Muslim woman — “Talaq, talaq, talaq.”
Simply by uttering the word “talaq” — meaning divorce — three times, a Muslim man can immediately bring his marriage to an end in a controversial law that activists claim violates women’s rights.
But in a “historic” decision, India’s Supreme Court has branded that law “unconstitutional” and “un-Islamic.”
A panel of five judges have today announced a six-month suspension on the practice, which could spell the end for the misogynistic law, which often leaves women with zero resources or ability to bring in income, sending them into poverty.
“This is a sensitive case where sentiments are involved,” said Justice J. S. Khehar, one of the five judges hearing the case about the legality of the practice.
“We are directing the Union of India to consider appropriate legislation in this regard.”
The three judges who ruled against the “triple talaq” said the “government should find a way to frame new laws.”
The ruling against the “triple talaq” has been received with relief by women’s rights campaigners across the world, and even the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Judgment of the Hon'ble SC on Triple Talaq is historic. It grants equality to Muslim women and is a powerful measure for women empowerment.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 22, 2017
“It will change the entire landscape of Muslim families,” Chandra Rajan, an advocate for the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIWPB), told the BBC.
“It’s now in the mainstream and will protect not only women, but children. Families will be more stable because children will also be protected.”
More than 20 Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, have already banned the practice.
India, however, doesn’t have a uniform set of laws on marriage, according to the BBC, and allows most religions to regulate matters like marriage and divorce through civil codes.
But the quickie divorce has come under increasing criticism, particularly as some cases have emerged of men using the “triple talaq” over text message, Skype, and even Whatsapp.
According to campaigners, thousands of women have been divorced by their husbands in this way, with poor women and their children being particularly vulnerable to the practice and the destitution it can result in.
In the Koran, according to Islamic scholars, it’s clearly stated that issuing a divorce has to be spread over three months, allowing a couple time for reflection and reconciliation.