An Ancient Divorce Practice May Be Outlawed in India

Muslim men in India must only say 'talaq' 3 times
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2017 10:59 AM CST
Woman Fights Law Allowing Men to Divorce With One Word
Judge Mufti Abdul Qayyum, left, hears a divorce case of a couple at an Islamic Court in Ahmadabad, India, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008.   (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

After 13 years of marriage to an allegedly abusive husband, a Muslim mother in India is formally protesting how easy it was for him to leave her—he divorced her by writing a letter containing the word "talaq," or divorce, three times, to her parents. "I was not even present when he wrote the word 'divorce,'" says the 35-year-old woman who goes by Shayara, per the Washington Post. "What kind of a one-sided, unfair divorce is this?" A long-established one, as it turns out. India's Muslims follow the controversial "triple talaq" law, which allows husbands to divorce their wives by merely uttering the word—or writing it, or texting it, or even Skyping it—three times. The practice is banned in much of the Islamic world, reports the BBC, and now India's Supreme Court is deciding whether it is unconstitutional, based on Shayara's case.

"Muslim women have their hands tied while the guillotine of divorce dangles, perpetually ready to drop at the whims of their husbands, who enjoy undisputed power," says Shayara in her petition to the court. She also wants it to outlaw polygamy as well as a practice called halala, in which a woman who wishes to remarry her divorced husband must for some reason marry a second man first, reports India Today. Shayara is under pressure from local Islamic leaders to drop the case, but she has no intention to do so. If she succeeds in having her divorce declared illegal, Shayara also has no intention of going back to her husband, reports Indian Express. She will instead seek divorce through legal channels. (See how one man divorced his wife on Skype.)

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