By Rohit E David
April 25, 2016
Receiving a triple Talaq divorce by post, Shayara Bano has moved the Supreme Court, questioning the legality of the practice and seeking an end to it. Speaking with Rohit E David, Shayara discussed her fight against triple Talaq, the significance of Shah Bano, Rajiv Gandhi, PM Modi, politicians pandering to men – and people saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’:
What are the struggles you’ve undergone?
I have been through a lot. There are many who are saying now that i am a non-Muslim because i have contested triple Talaq – but my difficulties started with seven abortions that were forced upon me. My in-laws used to trouble me for dowry too.
Right from the day I got married to my former husband, he used to say, I’ll give you Talaq. Going through life in this way was a tremendous emotional struggle for me. I used to keep mum in front of my husband but this eventually led him to only abuse and tortures me physically. By 2015, the persecution had increased a great deal.
All of these incidents had a very frightening impact on my children. Both of the kids are with my former husband now. I want to ask, has Muslim personal law ever thought of what befalls children whose parents have been given triple Talaq?
I’m now fighting for the custody of my two kids, who are 13 and 11 years old respectively. I haven’t even spoken to my kids since i came to my maternal home. My in-laws don’t allow my children to speak with me.
I am extremely worried about their well-being.
Could you tell us about the triple Talaq you got from your husband?
Last year, I had come over to my parents’ house in October – one day, i got a triple Talaq through the post. The postal Talaq had the signatures of two witnesses as well.
I then decided to take up the fight and file for maintenance.
Shah Bano got legal justice which was revoked by government then – do you think you’ll get justice now?
I know that in 1985, Shah Bano was denied justice – I have full hope that i will get justice now.
Rajiv Gandhi’s attitude to Shah Bano created history – do you have a message for Prime Minister Narendra Modi now?
I only want to tell and urge PM Modi that the Constitution should be the same for Muslims and Hindus.
It’s my request to him to completely erase triple Talaq from India.
Do Indian politicians cynically pander to men, ignoring women – making them more vulnerable?
Yes, absolutely. And men don’t consider women equal to them either – especially when it comes to the Muslim community. I can tell you that there are many Muslim women who live in fear every day of getting triple Talaq from their husbands.
The men in our community fully exploit women.
I have great hopes now that triple Talaq will be abolished in our country. Along with this, the ‘Halala’ tradition, which demands that if a repentant husband wants to remarry his divorced wife, she has to be another man’s wife first before a final comeback, should be repealed completely.
I want the coming generation to benefit from my verdict. I don’t want them to undergo exploitation like I have.
It is my request to all Muslim women who have got triple Talaq from their husbands to come forward and fight against this injustice.
Do you consider triple Talaq un-Islamic?
Yes, it is un-Islamic. In the holy Quran, there is no mention of triple talaq.
This law came into effect thanks to Maulvis, who wanted to set things for themselves.
Has the time come to amend religious laws in the country?
Of course – for the simple reason that they are outdated now.
Hindu laws, when it comes to divorce, are pretty strong. Hindu women don’t have to undergo Bahu Vivahs or Halala.
Make laws equal for every community.
Speaking of communities, we’ve heard much on intolerance in India – is there more communal intolerance today than before?
No, i don’t think the situation is like that. There is no communal intolerance between Hindus and Muslims.
What about the ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ slogan controversy?
I feel all Muslims should say ‘Bharat Maa Ki Jai’ – there is nothing wrong with us raising this slogan.