India finally bans instant divorce

India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday banned the controversial practice of instant divorce practised by some members of the Muslim community.

India is one of the few countries where a Muslim man could divorce his wife by saying the word ‘talaq’ – ‘divorce’ in Arabic – three times in quick succession.

A 3-2 majority judgement by five-judges, ruled that the practice was unconstitutional, illegal and a violation of the right to equality.

“We are very happy, we have won”, Zakia Soman of the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement group, one of the petitioners, said.

“We, the Muslim women, were till so far deprived of a law which is gender-just, which upholds our rights in marriage and in family.

“It is because of the domination and hegemony of patriarchal elements that Muslim women have suffered for the last 70 years. It is a historic day for us”.

“But it doesn’t end here. A proper, longer battle for social reform, for women’s empowerment, awareness, education has to be taken up”.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government backed petitioners in the landmark case, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi often speaking against the practice.

“It grants equality to Muslim women and is a powerful measure for women empowerment. It is historic judgment”, Modi said in a tweet.

Former attorney general Mukul Rohtagi, who represented the Indian government in court, also welcomed the judgement.

“The constitution is the highest law. All laws, including personal laws, must abide by constitutional guarantees and constitutional freedoms, including the right to live with dignity,” he said.

“There is no manner of doubt that this judgement will go in showing whole world, that we are progressive nation and the constitution applies with equal force to all, including Muslim women, and they will also walk without fear, just like women of other communities.”

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