India’s Uniform Civil Code – Decoding Triple Talaq

Recently the Law Commission of India gave out a questionnaire on the Uniform Civil Code provided in the Constitution of India under Article 44. The questionnaire consisted of 16 questions asking the public’s opinion on the necessity of uniform laws, especially in a country that sees the amalgamation of different religions and cultures.

The triple talaq system in Islam has been the most criticized in this matter, wherein the husband can divorce his wife by repeating the word ‘talaq’ thrice. This is a matter of concern as far as women’s rights go. The government has taken a stand against this ritual, stating that it is against women’s right to equality and cannot be substantiated to a legit religious practice.

In a country that has seen years of patriarchal norms in the society and has only recently come to terms with women’s rights and a new wave of feminism, a practice such as this is regressive and against its development.

Triple talaq, polygamy and other such traditional practices that are legitimate under the religion are not in par with women’s rights. The woman, who has left her maternal house to live with her husband and his family, and who possibly is unemployed, is left vulnerable in the society. Where must she go?

On the one hand in urban cities we see women are educated and working, juggling both household (if they are married) and work. These women can stand on their own but the real vulnerable group comes from the smaller strata of society, the lower middle class and the poor from the two tier cities and rural areas. With no stringent laws to protect them and a heavily patriarchal society dictating their every move, they are the ones who will benefit the most with a uniform civil code.

India is a secular country and the need for similar laws, irrespective of religion and culture, is the need of the hour. Everyone should be treated equal under the law.

Recently a judgement stating that men can divorce their wives if they tried to separate them from their families was met with backlash around the country. The question was repeatedly asked that these laws favor men and why a pressing matter such as marital rape has not been questioned under the law. Why has it not been legally recognized yet? Is it because the law does not care enough about the women who face this every day?

Culture and laws are not in sync because while the former remains static, laws need to change according to the society they are made to help and function. And society is changing everyday as globalization hits us from all corners and there is a fervour in the air to change the regressive laws that are against the marginalized section of the society.

Muslim women must speak out against the triple talaq system and the government should provide them a judicial backbone to exert their rights as citizens of a secular and democratic nation.

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