The Indian Constitution has given women a status equal to that of their male counterparts. But ironically, they are mostly treated as second-class residents in their own homes.
When they are young and unmarried, they are often told that they can do as they please. After marriage, when they go to their parents’ house, they are often alienated by their own kin. And when these women arrive in their in-laws’ house, they are often asked what they have brought from their parents’ home.
In August 2017, Muslim women in India seemingly slapped patriarchy in its face. The Supreme Court (SC), by a 3-2 majority, declared triple talaq as an unconstitutional practice, thereby safeguarding the human rights of Indian Muslim women. And on December 28, 2017, the Lok Sabha passed a bill on triple talaq, criminalising it and making it a non-bailable offence. A 3-year jail term is the punishment set for the man who divorces his wife authoritatively. The dependent women and her children will be given financial support by the husband.
But, before we crown the government as a champion of women’s rights, we need to ask – why doesn’t our government talk about issues like the decreasing percentage of women in work places? Why does our government not sympathise with the widows of men who are being lynched everyday by the fringe elements of society? Why does it not sympathise with the women who are being raped, killed for dowry? Why is it afraid to address the issue of marital rape? Why is our government not hearing those women out who haven’t been divorced, but have instead been abandoned by their husbands? Why is it not listening to those widows who have been abandoned by their families and are forced to await their end on the streets of Vrindavan or Varanasi? The list goes on.
As a concerned citizen, I welcome the bill that the governement has brought about. But, in my opinion, it fails to address few questions. For instance, if this type of divorce is unconstitutional, it means that no such thing like triple talaq exists in the eyes of the law. If the woman continues to share the home of her husband in such a situation, who or what will help the woman if her in-laws try to throw her out of the house? Regarding the person who has to serve a prison sentence of three years – how will he able to extend financial support to his wife ?
The key office-holders in the government are moving around the country in their obsession to win elections. In such a situation, who should we look up to? Who will address our grievances? For how long are we going to be served with half-cooked decisions and be smashed by unanswered questions ?
On the issue of this arbitrary form of divorce, in my opinion, only the codification of marriage laws can truly help people with this problem. The affected community and the government of the day should understand that only a law won’t help create awareness. A serious dedication to bringing about change is the only solution to this problem.
People often argue – why would a woman want to live with an abusive man? Isn’t it better that they divorce? But, a woman should know that the one who has inflicted atrocities on her should not have this privilege to humiliate her this way.
Women are expected to abide by ‘family values’ – which often instills in them the notion that they are subordinates and are nothing but failures in our own society. I am not pointing fingers at a specific religion here – I attribute this share of mass failure to the Indian society as whole.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.