As the Supreme Court on Tuesday banned instant triple talaq, activists urged the apex court to also take steps to decriminalise homosexuality and penalise marital rape. The triple talaaq verdict should open people’s minds to more progressive laws, gay rights activist Harish Iyer said. “Any step in the direction of liberty for the most marginalised should be seen as a wave that all allied causes could ride on. The verdict should open our minds to more progressive laws, including on Section 377,” Iyer said. While the issue of Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises homosexuality, is pending before the top court, it has been reluctant to make marital rape a criminal offence.
“SC rightly held instant triple talaq unconstitutional, didn’t pass the buck to Parliament. Isn’t it a shame SC didn’t do the same on Section 377 (of the Indian Penal Code),” tweeted Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association.
“Dear SC, after this will you please hold marital rape, including of minor wives, unconstitutional, undo regressive verdict on it,” she said.
The SC ruling on Tuesday was pronounced on a petition filed two years ago by Shayara Bano, a woman from Uttarakhand whose husband of 15 years sent her a letter with talaq written three times on it and left her. Similar petitions filed by four other women were heard with Bano’s petition.
“We welcome the SC judgement. Triple talaq is a discriminatory practice that violates women’s right to equality, and has devastated the lives of many Muslim women,” said the programmes director at Amnesty International India, Asmita Basu.
She urged the government to repeal all religious family laws that violated women’s right to equality.
Earlier in the day, in a landmark verdict, the SC by a majority of 3:2 ruled that the practice of instant divorce through triple talaq among Muslims was “void”, “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.
The apex court said the practice went against the tenets of Quran.
“This is a positive step in the right direction. Now is the time to raise the issues of marital rape and Section 377. It is the time to focus on gender-just laws across communities,” said women’s right activist Jagmati Sangwan, former general secretary, the All India Democratic Women’s Association.