India’s top court strikes down Muslim divorce law in victory for women

India’s top court strikes down Muslim divorce law in victory for women

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August 24, 2017

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India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled a Muslim instant divorce law unconstitutional, a landmark victory for Muslim women who have spent decades arguing that it violated their right to equality.

The law allows Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering the word “talaq” three times. Muslim women say they have been left destitute by husbands divorcing them through “triple talaq,” including by Skype and WhatsApp.

Under the ruling, the court said the government should frame new divorce legislation to replace the abolished practice of triple talaq.

“Finally, I feel free today,” Shayara Bano, who was divorced through triple talaq and was one of five women who brought the case, told Reuters after the ruling.

“I have the order that will liberate many Muslim women.”

The ruling was delivered by a panel of five male judges from different faiths – Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.

Three of the five ruled that the practice was unconstitutional, overruling the senior-most judge in India, the chief justice.

He told the government to come up with a new law within six months.

Many Muslim countries have banned triple talaq, including neighboring Pakistan and conservative Saudi Arabia. It survived in India because the officially secular country allows religious communities to apply their own laws in personal matters such as marriage, divorce and property inheritance.

Leading Islamic scholars say Muslim divorce law as set out in the Koran does not justify the use of triple talaq.

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