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Why The Verdict Of Triple Talaq Matters To Me: A Woman’s Heartwrenching Story

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On August 22, 2017, the Supreme Court of India passed a historic judgement on the issue of Triple Talaq in one sitting, within the Indian Muslim community. By a majority of 3:2 the practice was struck down as unconstitutional and Parliament was asked to legislate on it. This method of divorcing one’s wife is illegal in many countries, including Pakistan. Yet, it’s continued to be practiced in India in barbaric ways such as saying talaq thrice on the phone, or even WhatsApp. The judgement is a victory for Muslim women, lifting the spectre of this dangling sword from their heads.

And I have felt that spectre close enough. Finally I feel free, I feel I can breathe. And I can hear my mother somewhere in heaven breathe through. Throughout her 30-year-long married life, my father hung that sword over her head. “Listen to me or I will divorce you”, “All it takes is saying it thrice”. And along the tumultuous path of their marriage and his anger issues, he even uttered it a few times. And left my hapless mother in shambles. Because he would come around and say that it was said in anger and he didn’t mean it. Till the next time he got angry. Then she was attacked for still being there after he had already divorced her. Where was a simple, not-so-educated housewife and mother of three daughters supposed to go? So she stayed, bearing the trauma of her beloved religion hanging her out to dry.

So Easy To End Everything

Till her daughters grew up to finally get her out of this torture, when he yelled talaq thrice during her chemotherapy. She died a broken-hearted woman, crying about how easy it was to erase three decades with three words. And there are many more like her, spread across the community, discarded because of how easy it is. Their identities erased and lives destroyed, trying to start again. Where did that leave the young independent girls of our community? The ones that had seen a close one suffer and the frailty of what society calls the sombre institution of marriage. A joke really, for most of us.

I remember discussing it with my girlfriends. How can we get into this union when it seems so easy for one party to get out? At the slightest provocation, or perhaps just a mood swing? I couldn’t bear to live with the fear, so I decided not to live with it at all. Better safe than sorry. Because when I’m thrown out on the road on the whims and fancies of my husband, society will ask me for answers. What did you do wrong? Were you not good enough? Could you not keep your husband happy? The constant judgement of this world is bound to take its toll sooner or later.

Afraid To Commit

And that is how I went about my love life. Till my mid-20s I thought commitment phobia was just the rebellion of my years. Why marry so soon when life has so much to offer? My generation of women could finally spread their wings with the wind of our mothers’ sacrifices lifting us. It’s not that I didn’t meet nice men. That is what perplexed me. But the moment they mentioned marriage, I would panic. It was only after my mother’s demise that I understood the scope of my baggage. It was of countless women and many centuries. One that was infinite and thus unseen. I was in a serious relationship. But once again when marriage talk began, so did my exit plan.

Is it fair to judge a man by what other men have done? Or to deny him my love because of an archaic practice? Perhaps you’ll say that marriage is about taking risks, things can always go wrong. But it shouldn’t be about bartering your dignity. Yes, things can go wrong, but not to the extent where I can be discarded like that. Landing on a pile of worthlessness that will suck you in. So I ask you. Is it fair to be in a marriage where all the power lies with one person? To be denied your presence in their life based on their whims and fancies? I’m willing to dive in with all I have. But is it fair to ask me to, without a parachute or a safety net?

Now I Have A Safety Net

Today my land’s highest court has given me that safety net. So I can choose to fly, to take the leap without constant worry of abandonment. The baggage is lifted, the shroud of fear gone. The sword now hangs not at my throat, but in my armour, giving me the strength to love and laugh, knowing that no matter what the future holds, my dignity will be intact. That as a wife, I will never be reduced to those three words in someone’s life.


This article was first written by Zeba Rahman for Bonobology.com.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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