Alongside the huge applause, there are also some criticisms over the recent passing of the Triple Talaq Bill. It is vital to address these.
For those critics questioning if triple talaq is the most important issue in India today, I would say this — yes.
To a lot of women, the Triple Talaq Bill is the most important issue today.
For many women who suffered from cruelty of triple talaq, this move counts the most.
You can only decide the importance of an issue in relation to the people involved and who exactly is going through it. For some people, a tumour becomes the biggest issue in their lives, overriding all else, because they are suffering. For Muslim women, this is indeed the most important issue as it affects their lives directly, it impacts their social well-being directly, and it does so in manifold ways.
Will they be criminalised? No. (Photo: ANI)
A criticism has also been raised about whether Muslim men are being needlessly criminalised. The fact is, Muslim men at any point are not being made victims, this is an entirely wrong perception — when you look at dowry deaths and Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), there is imprisonment from three up to seven years. You look at the Hindu Marriage Act, adultery or domestic violence, they are all punishable.
Anything which is illegal will be punishable.
Even in Islamic countries, triple talaq is not allowed, it is banned. In the Talaq-e-Biddat during Caliph Umar’s time, this form of divorce was introduced but only on the condition that there will be 40 whiplashes on the person who wanted divorce. Talaq-e-Biddat, even at that time was criminalised. Hazrat Umar had to criminalise this practice and not the people. In India we needed a legal provision because there was no provision of whiplashes, because there are no Sharia courts.
In my view, triple talaq or abandonment rate amongst women will now drop with triple talaq becoming a criminal act.
When any man goes to jail, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian, who provides maintenance for their families? By questioning this aspect too, I wonder if critics of the new law are trying to say that there should be no punishment for men — only for women?
When these women were being thrown out on the streets, who was providing maintenance then? Earlier, Muslim women had a very difficult life — at least now, they will not be in constant fear. This will be a strong deterrent to a man not to give instant divorce.
To also answer critics on the stand of the government on other crimes against women — I'm often asked, triple talaq aside, why did the BJP not bring any law against marital rape? If a significant number of women go to court seeking a law on marital rape then both the Suprme Court, Parliament and the party in power will have to consider it.
Unlike marital rapes though, where women haven’t come out in the open much as yet, Hindu men who don’t share family property with their sisters will be tried in court. If you study the Hindu laws of inheritance, it is already criminalised. This is another reason why a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a necessity. Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Sikh men will not get away with biased laws — which are there in all religions.
All men in the country will have to act according to the law of the land, and not according to religious laws, which are often shaped by deep-set patriarchy.
The Unnao case has also raised social unease — indeed, this is how it should be.
Will he be taken to task effectively? Yes. (Photo: ANI)
However, the fact is that Kuldeep Singh Sengar is behind bars and rightly so. It is the CBI which has taken the statements of the witnesses and the survivor — that’s why Sengar is behind bars. Sengar has been asked to respond to a notice, he'll answer. The BJP has zero tolerance for anything like this. You see the speedy action which has been taken — it is not like the Rajasthan dalit gang rape case where an FIR was not allowed to be filed because elections were going on.
I stand with the rape survivor of Unnao and I reiterate that people like Kuldeep Singh Sengar should not be allowed to get away, regardless of which party they come from. The girl’s family has asserted their faith in the CBI. I'd personally want him to be expelled the minute it's proved that he is behind the murder case.
The fact is also that, all its critics aside, the BJP stands integrally by women's rights and the iconic 'Beti Bachao' campaign. That has nothing to do with any of this. The sex ratio has improved in favour of girls in Haryana, which is a truly radical change. You cannot put a blot on an entire national campaign which has been really successful in terms of changing social mindsets — that's about as rational as saying that the Ujjwala Yojana doesn’t work because Sengar has not been thrown out.
(As told to Rohit E David)
Also read: Not saffron but secular: The banning of instant triple talaq is a crucial first step towards Uniform Civil Code