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Activists Challenge India’s Talaq Divorce Law

The process of obtaining a divorce is, in the vast majority of instances, highly bureaucratic. Forms are to be completed, assets disclosed and deadlines to be met, but there is one exception; one so devoid of structure and procedure that it can leave affected spouses instantaneously destitute and their marriages dissolved in just seconds. Currently, Muslim men in India need only pronounce the word ‘talaq’ three times in order to divorce their wives and can even complete this process via written correspondence such as text messages. This controversial practice is currently being reviewed by the Indian Supreme Court, however, following its critics having argued that it is ‘unconstitutional’. In addition, others argue that the practice not only conflicts with the Indian constitution, but Islamic law as well, claiming that there is no mention of talaq in the Quran. The group also argue that Islamic scholars state that the process should take three months so as to provide the parties with adequate time to consider their decisions. In November of last year, the Indian Muslim Woman’s Movement published a report that detailed nearly 100 incidents of talaq divorce. Additionally, the organisation’s founder, Professor Zakia Soman, has noted that she has seen thousands of these instant divorces and that, as these women rarely receive maintenance from their former husbands, they are often left impoverished and without shelter. In response to critics, members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board have stated that. whilst they find the act of talaq to be deplorable, the matter is being ‘blown out of proportion’ by individuals that do not view Islam favourably.

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