The practice of talaq-ul-bidat — or “triple talaq” — allowed male Muslims in India to end their marriage by uttering the dreaded word, talaq, three times, which was increasingly being emailed or texted to women. State the magic word, talaq, three times and, voila, the marriage ends. No messy divorce courts or high priced lawyers. Even Pakistan and Bangladesh have banned this hideous practice. By contrast, a Muslim woman in India must seek the permission of her husband or a cleric to terminate the marriage. Traditionally, Muslim women were forced to leave their homes and children without alimony or any other financial support.

At long last, a group of Muslim women challenged the constitutionality of talaq. They argued that talaq violated their fundamental right to equality under the Indian Constitution.

The India’s Supreme Court agreed by striking down the ‘instant divorce’ for Muslim men.

There is a strong need to have a uniform set of laws dealing with marriage, divorce, alimony and inheritance. There are very few statistics available on the prevalence of talaq divorces. But one study found that 404 were instantly divorced from a sample of 4,700.

Pandering to the Muslim vote bank, the national Congress party had resisted challenging Muslim divorce practices. For example, in 1985, the ruling sought to nullify a Supreme Court ruling which ordered the husband of a divorced woman to pay $15 a month alimony shifting the responsibility away from the husband to the divorcee’s family or Muslim charities. Shameful.

Jagjit Singh

Los Altos, Calif.

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