As the issue of triple talaq or instant divorce among some sections of the Muslim community is fiercely being discussed in Indian electronic media, and people from the non-Muslim community are showing more and more interest in it, a study published in 1996 can help better understand the issue.
The study, conducted by Dr MM Siddiqi for Institute of Objective Studies (IOS), New Delhi, with the title ''Incidence of divorce among Indian Muslims'' runs in more than 700 pages.
Dr Manzoor Alam, director of IOS, said: ''The ground survey was done by eight Muslim girls so that divorcee women can get fair say in the study.'' Around 600 women and 150 men participated in the study and answered two separate questionnaires.
The study specifically looks into the highlighted issue, that men divorce their wives in an arbitrary manner and women are forced to live a destitute life due to the triple talaq.
If this is so, then the divorcee must prefer to reunite with her husband if given the chance, or if a husband takes this extreme step (of instant divorce) in a fit of anger, he may also rethink his decision.
A specific question was asked to the women who participated in the survey: Do you think that your remarriage with your divorcer will ensure a peaceful and stable life for you in future? Women were to pick the answers Yes, Not Sure or No.
In Delhi, 69.8 per cent women answered No, while 85.5 per cent women in Aligarh echoed the same. The same question was asked to men and 69.6 per cent men in Delhi and 81.1 per cent men in Aligarh said they do not want to remarry their wife.
The research concludes on the part of men: ''Probably the respondents had a clear cut mind about the divorce. The males from both towns seemed to be totally opposed to revocation and they did not expect a peaceful life with their divorcees in the future.''
After analysing data from the women's response, the survey says: ''Thus, it reveals that the divorce has taken place only when the males and females were determined to depart from each other for good.''
The findings of this lengthy report are still reflecting in some recent data. Asma Zohra, chief organiser of the women’s wing of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said the exercise to collect data from family courts was started in May last year, under which statistics were sought through RTI from family courts in Muslim concentration districts for five years, from 2011 to 2015.
According to the report prepared by Muslim Mahila Research Kendra in coordination with Shariah Committee for Women, the number of cases of divorce for Muslims stood at 1,307 against Hindus at 16,505. The cases of divorce for Christians in these districts stood at 4,827 and eight for Sikhs.
So it is clear that triple talaq is being executed in the Muslim community with the same carefulness as the process of divorce in other communities.
The other finding of the IOS study is more important.
Here, Muslim males and females both accept in overwhelming majority that the money of meher is not being paid to the divorcee. The woman is also not being paid any compensation by her husband in most cases.
This problem is more important as religion, justice and humanity all say that a woman must get sufficient money to live by herself in case of divorce. Around 66.7 per cent males in Delhi, 73.3 per cent males in Aligarh as well as 68.5 per cent females in Delhi said the meher was not paid.
The study clarifies that men in Delhi showed a poor response to this question, so the sample size becomes low, while a large number of Delhi women confirmed not getting meher money. The study also shows that men and women were equally pained about the effect of divorce on their children.
As of now, we are moving towards a society which has more nuclear families than ever before and a time which is most vulnerable for divorce, so it will be better to evolve more practical ways for marriage and divorce than to target a particular community.
Modern society needs easier laws for divorce so the couple does not waste time and money in getting separated. Courts also take time to decide the amount of compensation for divorcees.
It's high time all of us, not only Muslims, fine tune the institution of marriage as well as divorce, according to the norms of the modern world.