This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shashwat Khanna. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Government Claims The Triple Talaq Bill Is Historic. But Is It?

More from Shashwat Khanna

The Supreme Court of India, in a majority judgement of 3:2, on August 22, 2017, set aside the practice of instant ‘talaq’ or talaq-e-biddat, which was used by Muslim men to divorce their wives instantaneously. This involved the husband saying the word ‘talaq’ thrice, instantly leading to a divorce.

The Supreme Court then asked the government to come up with a law to tackle this issue. And the government did do this, by introducing the Muslim Women (Protection Of Rights On Marriage) Bill, 2017 to the Lok Sabha. But this wasn’t as straightforward as it seems.

Firstly, while drafting the bill, the government didn’t include any of the women activists, groups or even it’s own Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi. It didn’t even consider Shayara Bano’s opinion, who petitioned the case in the Supreme Court.

This bill was to be introduced on December 29, 2017, and the voting was to be done later in the session.

But then the bill was suddenly changed from just an introduction to the consideration and passing of the same. This is exactly how the tax bill was passed in the US. The Republicans had made last minute decisions to introduce the bill, and it also had a $300 billion error, which showed the negligence of the Senators. The abrupt introduction of the bill, indicated that the government was in a hurry to pass this bill. This also denied the MPs to study the bill in detail.

The government even said that the bill wouldn’t be sent to a committee. Committees are an essential part of Parliamentary democracy, and play a very important role in removing the shortcomings of the bill. The government’s denial to do so has outraged many.

Then comes the bill itself. This bill has many shortcomings.

According to the 3rd clause of the bill,

“Any pronouncement of talaq by a person upon his wife, by words, either spoken or written or in electronic form or in any other manner whatsoever, shall be void and illegal.”

This doesn’t even make any sense. Section 2(b) defines ‘talaq’ as talaq-e-biddat, any other form of talaq which has ‘instantaneous and irrevocable effect’. After Shayara Bano, those three words uttered together have no such effect. So the entire bill fails.

But let’s move on. The 4th clause states

“Whoever pronounces talaq referred to in section 3 upon his wife shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and fine.”

Let me break it down for you. If a husband says the word ‘talaq’ thrice, he’ll land in jail. This has several problems, and the government or the law minister have issued no response to them.

Who has the burden of proof? How can the wife prove that her husband said the words? Can’t this law be severely misused?

Why three years of punishment for saying ‘talaq’ three times? If saying it has no legal or civil binding, as stated by clause 3, why should it result to send someone to prison?

What is this “fine”? Why be this vague? Who decides what the fine is, and on what basis?

What if the wife doesn’t want to prosecute the husband?

Why does this law bring criminality into a civil matter?

This clause fails to answer any of these questions.

The next clause doesn’t make things any better –

“Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions contained in any other law for the time being in force, a married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced, shall be entitled to receive from her husband such amount of subsistence allowance for her and dependent children as may be determined by the Magistrate”

Some questions need to be answered here –

What if the husband isn’t in a state to give any allowance to the wife?

Can’t the couple reconcile before the Magistrate? Why is the prison term necessary?

The main issue with this bill is that it conflates a civil matter of Triple Talaq with criminality. Just saying ‘talaq’ thrice will land you in jail. Isn’t this a breach of freedom of speech? If saying it has absolutely no meaning, as said by the SC’s judgement, then why is the government criminalizing it? Why can I say ‘divorce’ thrice but not ‘talaq’, when both of them are equally useless according to the law?

And what if the husband abandons the wife without saying these words? So saying ‘talaq’ thrice and not abandoning the wife is a greater crime than leaving your life without a divorce? If after saying ‘talaq’ thrice, the husband leaves the wife, sure put him in jail. But why criminalize just saying the words?

But we do have some hope. The Congress Spokesperson, has said that the government is against criminalizing saying the words itself. Since the government isn’t in a majority in the Rajya Sabha, we can expect some amendments to the bill.

Also, the bill puts no effort into a reconciliation between the husband and the wife. It might simply be the case of the husband say so in anger. He might be sorry now, and apologize, and not leave his wife. But according to law, he’s still a criminal.

And don’t get me started on the misuse of this law. The opposition asked the government various times on whom the burden of proof lies, but neither the government nor the law minister gave any satisfying answer.

The Lok Sabha, thanks to the BJP Majority, rejected all amendments, many of which tried to address these important issues.

But is the BJP really trying to help women? Why only help Muslim women? Why not help those millions of Hindu women who currently are raped by their husbands, and can’t do anything because marital rape is legal?

If anything, this bill proves the BJP’s hidden agenda of communal politics, which is paved with hypocrisy and nothing else.

You must be to comment.
  1. Harinder Jeet Singh Bedi

    Every law has its share of loopholes but it depends on the law enforcing agency how they investigate such cases

More from Shashwat Khanna

Similar Posts

By Amiya Bhaskara

By Ritwik Trivedi

By BS Murthy

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below