For Farhad (full name withheld), the Supreme Court verdict has come a fortnight late. Her husband, a helper at Ajmer dargah, sent her a letter with triple talaq in August first week, nine years after their marriage. On Tuesday, the 26-year-old wept, resolving to challenge the divorce following the SC’s verdict, which labelled instant triple talaq against the tenets of Islam. “She had had a love marriage but continued to hide it from her family for several years. He would often visit her from Ajmer, but never took her to his home as his wedded wife.
When her family finally came to know and pressured him to take her, he wrote a letter giving her triple talaq,” said Nirmal Hafeez, a member of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, who has come across 108 cases where women were allegedly given arbitrary verbal or written talaq by their husbands.
Farhad was also forced to undergo abortion, because her husband, a member of her extended family, did not want the baby. According to her, he would visit her in Mumbai and take her out to restaurants, but never publicly accepted her as his wife. Like Farhad, Shabnam Adil Khan (29) is happy the SC struck down the age-old practice.
“Whatever is written in shariat must be followed. I am against the concept of men divorcing their wives through WhatsApp or oral communication. Where is the sanctity of marriage in this?” she said. Shabnam was married in January 2015 to Adil Khan. She realised he already had a wife and two daughters after marriage. “My father was forced to give Rs 2 lakh in dowry. On the night of the wedding, all my jewellery was taken away,” she says. For the past two years, Khan has been living in fear of divorce after Adil allegedly threatened her with triple talaq.
“His first wife has filed a case against him. He lives in Saudi Arabia now and I live with my parents. I have been beaten up so many nights, my screams would have no effect on him. He was always drunk,” she said. Her husband has stopped calling her, and she was worried that any day, he would announce the dreaded word thrice and it would all be over. “But with this verdict, women like me have hope,” Khan said. Triple Talaq verdict: Activists welcome Supreme Court decision. Click here to read.
Following the Tuesday verdict, Hasina Khan, founder of Bebaak Collective, said, “This is the first time that judgement in a Muslim-related issue has been taken on the basis of the Constitution. We are hopeful that a law will soon come in on this. We are very happy. This will help several women fight for their rights.”
Shabina Kaleem (26), whose husband left her after verbally divorcing her, says, “Islam should be followed and I do not want to do anything that goes against it. I was divorced and my husband believed Islam permits triple talaq, but it is against the concept of Islam. I am glad the court took this decision.”
In Mumbai and Delhi, for members of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, it was time to rejoice. The convener of Maharashtra branch of the organisation, Khatoon Shaikh, is now 60. “I have been fighting for this for eight years now. I never saw such a clear judgement on this issue before,” Shaikh said, adding that they plan to take up issues of polygamy and ban on adoption of children with the Parliament now to frame laws. “The court has given the government six months to frame a law. We will keep following up with it to take the issue to its logical end,” Shaikh added.