The Dispatch: Triple Talaq – The Beetlejuice of Divorce Laws

India has made an Islamic Divorce Law illegal as of the end of the July 2019! The Triple Talaq is a way for an Islamic Man to divorce his wife by saying the word ‘talaq’, the Arabic word for ‘divorce’, 3 times either in written, oral or electronic ways. Basically this the Beetlejuice of divorce laws. After the divorce the woman, who in this instance is the property of the husband’s family, is left with nothing, and the husband get’s do whatever he’d like. I feel like Islam just took text message break up a bit too far!

Now that the Triple Talaq has been criminalized, if an Islamic man uses this against his wife, using the Beetlejuice principle, Michael Keaton shows up and wisks the husband away to a warehouse in Hollywood, where the man is Clockwork Oranged to watch the Joel Schumacher Batman movies on repeat for the length of his shitty marriage. The woman gets to hangout with Keaton discussing when he’s going to make a Beetlejuice 2! WHEN YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD!? How long must we wait!? How many more outdated religious laws must we overturn for this sequel!

Ok, so in reality this new legislation says that men can now be sent to prison for up to 3 years for attempting this. This is historic not only because it champions Muslim women and gives them autonomy over their martial rights, but for over a year the Upper House of the Indian Parliament has blocked it. The Muslim Women Protection on Right On Marriage Bill passed with an 99-84 sweep in the Lower House, which is currently controlled by the BJP. And now it has passed in the Upper House as well.

The problem with the current version of the bill is that it doesn’t state the particulars of who takes care of the women after the men are sent to prison or provide maintenance to the family. The bill does dictate that the Magistrate will determine an allowance for the woman and the custody of any kids will go to her. But in terms of the woman being able to dictate the terms of the divorce isn’t in the bill.

The Triple Talaq is a personal Muslim law, and after hundreds of cases seen by the Indian Supreme Court, Chief Justice Jadish Singh Khehar brought to the attention of the Prime Minister Modi and the Lower House. The Muslim community in uproar and is probably set to protest the legislation. But under the Uniform Civil Code’s Article 44 in India, which revokes personal laws about religion and is working to make India more secular, this isn’t about going against the Muslim community.

India has a Marriage laws against Hindu codes as well. In Hinduism, marriage is a sacred act that is a major part of life. So under the Hindu Marriage of 1955, the husband or the wife can enact a divorce if there’s cheating, polygamy, sodomy or beastiality at play. And you’re definitely on the outs if it’s all of the above. India just decriminalized homosexuality so starting a new life with a hoard of horses on a farm in the jungles of India to live out some alternate reality version of the Jungle Book isn’t something anyone is ready to understand.

In 2012, the divorce clause was renewed to introduce at “no fault divorce” for Hindus only, which Mens Rights Activists called out as a law against Hindus! This clause essentially said that both parties must be involved in order to file for a divorce. This makes sense though. Regardless of your religion or your politics, if marriage truly is personal, then it should be up to both parties to make that decision, just like it was both parties decision to enter in marriage with each other.

Now in Hinduism, martial age for girls was 15 and for boys was 18. This was changed to 18 for girls and 22 for boys in 1978 because regardless of what religion says children shouldn’t be getting married! This isn’t a Wes Anderson movie, no matter how many movies he’s films in India. This was just updating Hinduism to the life expectancy and the definition of children. Perhaps these extreme Muslims can join the extreme Hindus at the table and realize that when you blame women only for martial issues and marry off children, it’s not ok anymore. You can still practice your religion and have a personal relationship with God without persecuting a gender and child brides!

The Islamic Community feels targeted by the new Triple Talaq legislation primarily because the BJP has been deemed an anti-Muslim party. Modi doesn’t say anything about the violence against Muslims in his country and neither does he legislate against it. Modi and his party’s silence in this matter does make a statement regardless what the party might think and actions that seem like equality for all genders, might seem like inequality for freedom of religion.

And there in lies the question and also an answer: Can India make a law punishing a man of particular faith for acting under accordance of his religion? No, but also, no where in the Islamic religion does it say that Triple Talaq is part of the Islamic faith. It’s a personal law. Meaning that it’s one that you follow on your own accord. IF your personal law is mysognisitc and leaves your ex-wife in shambles while you get to galavant and live your days doing what you want then maybe you need to reconsider your personal values and stop blaming your religion for being a shitty person. This new legislation doesn’t target Muslim men, it targets assholes who unfortunately happen to be Muslim. Just like the updates to the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 targets assholes who just happen to be Hindu.

With the passage of this bill, the details will have to be hammered out about how the women will taken care of to live an independent life, and what they can do about attacks from the family. The bill should also state whether or not women command the power of divorce as well. If it’s under the equality measure then they most certainly should. India is diving into the territory of legislating secularism, which is needed a country that is overrun by superstition and hyper religiosity. This is a measure of overcorrection but that’s necessary sometimes.

Marriage is a big deal. It’s a sacred act, not for religious or political purposes, but personal ones. 2 people who really care about each other and love each other should choose get marriage and for whatever reason it is both parties should choose to get divorced. Both parties, not just one. And it should make sure that both parties come out of the marriage without heavy financial burdens or resentment. If one party is looked at as property then it’s easy to say that legislation like this is discriminatory to the discriminators. Marriage is act of love. Divorce can be too.