Polygamy next target for Muslim activists who pressed for triple talaq ban

The Lok Sabha’s nod to a ban on the practice of triple talaq is welcome, but there is more to be done. This is what Muslim women activists, who fought the battle against triple talaq, feel. True empowerment of Muslim women on the marriage front can happen only when the practice of polygamy is also done away with, they say.

A number of activists welcomed the government’s move to ban the practice triple talaq as “a start”. Clearly, this alone is not going to be enough.

The activists termed it a lost opportunity for wider reform in the sections of Muslim personal law that often put women at a disadvantage.

“A new beginning has been made which would protect Muslim women from immoral practice of nikah halala,” said advocate Farah Faiz, who along with Rizwana and Razia were among those who fought for the ban in triple talaq.

Rizwana, 33, a victim of polygamy, put forth her rationale for why the ban on triple talaq should be viewed only as a part of the process of reform and not the achievement of reform.

“I welcome the move, but now men will take undue advantage of the law and indulge in polygamy openly as it is still in practice. With polygamy still in practice, abolition of triple talaq cannot alone not help us,” Rizwana said to news agency PTI. An employee of the Railways, she has approached the Supreme Court against the practice of polygamy.

Advocate Chandra Rajan who had represented All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB), while welcoming the triple talaq bill, had a peeve over a deeper question that is yet to be answered by our political class.

“We are disappointed only on one count that Sharia was not defined by the government in the law. As long as Sharia is not defined, confusion and misuse of such practices will prevail,” said Rajan. She added it can be said that the government brought this law in a haste.

The government’s push to pass the triple talaq bill had in itself come on the directions of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, which ruled against the practice.

“At least this government has done something and a new beginning has been made. Amendments keep on happening in the law but the start has been made,” she said.

Reform of Muslim personal law has long been a hot button topic in Indian politics. This is a key part of the imposition of a Uniform Civil Code, which the BJP envisages as part of its overall political worldview.

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