Women MPs on Triple Talaq Bill: ‘A sane woman asked me, why not justice on marital rape?’

During the debate on the triple talaq bill, NCP MP Supriya Sule talked about how it is “saner” to talk about marital rape and how female foeticide is a bigger evil that women of India face. Sule described a conversation she had with a Muslim woman who. “… Day before yesterday at Mumbai Airport, I was standing in the queue for security check and a lady called Zaida Rukshana, who was standing ahead of me, started talking to me. I asked her what is her view on instant triple talaq. She turned around and said: ‘The Supreme Court in any way has done it and why are you wasting your time on it? Why do you not give me equal justice on marital rape?’… I am so glad that Manekaji is sitting right here when we are discussing such an important issue,” she said. That woman, Sule said, sounded “far saner than all of us”. Sule also highlighted the mental trauma of a child whose father has been jailed for triple talaq. “He may be a bad husband but he could be a wonderful father,” she said.

Sushmita Dev (Congress) said the bill seeks to empower women but in criminalising triple talaq the government is effectively closing the window of reconciliation that is such an important part of a legitimate Islamic divorce. “Is it a real possibility that after I go to a magistrate in a non-bailable offence when my husband is going to be arrested, are you saying that he will sit in a reconciliation position with me? … The moment you put your husband in jail, I see no reason why a husband, why a man should even consider reconciliation with his wife.”

She argued that the only difference from the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, was in the fact that the old Act had provision for a year’s incarceration and the present one provides for three years. She also asked who would pay the women subsistence allowance if the husband is in jail. “Will this government, which today is beating their chest in favour of the Muslim women, create a corpus?”

Meenakshi Lekhi (BJP) said the bill was necessary because after the Supreme Court ruling that triple talaq is illegal, Muslim women had no option but to file contempt cases. Since that is not feasible the penal provisions have been brought in to make the SC verdict implementable at the thana level. She emphasised that the Qur’an does not permit instantaneous triple talaq; it is what is called an “innovation”.

“I am of the opinion that the pace at which instant triple talaq is given, the need of the hour was to put a stop to it at the same pace. I want to ask when triple talaq has already happened where is the room for conciliation [as Sushmita Dev mentioned]… I want to stress on the fact that the law will not prevent talaq only put a stop to talaq e biddat.”

Lekhi dwelt on how appeasement politics led to legislation such as the one overturning the Shah Bano judgment being brought to Parliament. “I was to dedicate this day to Arif Mohd Khan who resigned from this House to protest against the 1986 law.”

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