If not for these women who moved the apex court against Triple Talaq, the practice might have continued for a much longer time. The petitioners in the case underwent domestic torture and abuse before deciding to take the legal route on the practice of Triple Talaq among Muslims.
The sky literally broke on her head when Mohammad Murtaza Ansari gave talaq (divorce) over the phone from faraway Dubai to Ishrat Jahan, a housewife from Howrah, West Bengal, in 2015. Unable to digest the ‘phone talaq’, Ishrat Jahan went on to appeal against it in court. Ishrat Jahan was married for 15 years and one day. After the call from Dubai, she never heard back from her husband. The 38-year-old later got to know that he had allegedly married another woman and took her four children with him. She now wants her children back, and maintenance from Mohammad Murtaza.
After the Supreme Court order on triple talaaq, Jahan says that any ordinary Muslim woman can fight for her rights if she is violated by talaq given over phone or email, which she terms as un-Islamic. Speaking to the New Indian Express over phone, she says: “Talaq should be given and accepted, the way marriages are conducted. Saying ‘talaq, talaq, talaq’ over phone or email should not be accepted by any Muslim woman.”
“My petition was against people giving talaq over phone and email. These ways of giving talaq are un-Islamic, has no mention in the Quraan and is not practiced anywhere in the world,” she adds. Jahan calls for all Muslim women not to digest the ‘improper’ ways of giving talaq and fight against it. “Talaq se Musalmaan auraton ki zindagi kharab hoti hai. Main yeh paigaam dena chahti hoon ki sab apne haq ke liye ladai ekjut hoke lade (Talaq destroys the life of ordinary Muslim women. I urge them to come together and fight for their rights),” she says.
It is her moment of triumph. The ordeal, which began for Shayara Bano in 2002 when she was just 24 and entered into wedlock with Rizwan Ahmad of Allahabad resulting in Triple Talaq written on a piece of paper, has now culminated in victory after the SC verdict. Narrating her tale of woes, Shayara wonders how her grip on life loosened gradually and finally she was left to her fate as Rizwan took away their two children (son Irfan, 13, and daughter Muskan, 11) leaving her alone at the Moradabad Raliway Station. Shayara of Kashipur (Uttarakhand) had an arranged marriage with Rizwan Ahmad.
Rizwan was a property dealer in Sangam city. She accompanied Rizwan to her in-laws’ place with dreams of a life replete with love and care. As days passed, everyone at her in-laws’ place, including her husband, started tormenting her. All of them used to torture her, starve her for days, beat her up, besides demanding dowry. She was forced to have six abortions. “I was reduced into a lump of flesh,” she says.
Aafreen Rehman married her husband after meeting him through a matrimonial portal in 2014. Within three months of her marriage, Aafreen (26) had to leave her husband’s house after being physically and mentally abused. She is a native of Jaipur, Rajasthan. She got a letter from her husband in 2015 through Speed Post when she was staying at her parents’ house. Aafreen’s husband Ashar Warsi, was a lawyer from a Muslim family in Indore.
Her father died in 2009 and her brothers met the Warsi family’s expectations of dowry by availing of loans to give D10 lakh to the groom’s family, according to her close family members. In October 2015, she lost her mother in a road accident. Later, the MBA grad left her husband’s house and began residing with her maternal relatives. Aafreen’s husband and her in-laws reportedly abandoned her and never bothered to take her back. Subsequently, she filed a plea in the apex court to declare the divorce null and void.
Atiya Sabri of Saharanpur petitioned PM Narendra Modi seeking his intervention and demanding that he rid the Muslim community of Triple Talaq. She also urged the PM to ban ‘nonsensical’ fatwas in support of Triple Talaq and sought strict action against those who issue such fatwas. Atiya, who was married to Wajid Ali of Sultanpur in 2012, is a mother of two daughters. When she gave birth to her second daughter, Ali pronounced Triple Talaq in one sitting by writing it on a piece of paper.
Atiya got to know about it only when the paper reached her brother’s office, leaving her to fend for herself. Atiya alleges that she was “punished” with Triple Talaq for giving birth to daughters, and says her husband’s family abused and even tried to poison her. She was then “thrown out” of the house and had to be admitted in hospital, she adds. “He did not find it necessary to take my consent. He never called or spoke to me. So how could I accept that divorce,” she says.
Gulshan Parveen of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh received a talaqnama or divorce notice on a D10 stamp paper when she was visiting her parents in 2015. As she refused to accept it, her husband approached a family court. Gulshan was highly qualified with a masters in English and a teaching job at a school and her parents had a tough time finding her a groom.
The search for a groom ended with a person who was less qualified but who belonged to a respectable family. But, the marriage did not last. She was often sent to her parents’ home for months. When Gulshan was pregnant with her son Ridan, she was forced to go to her parents’ home for six months. After the birth of the child, she was sent there for eight months.
“When she finally returned, her husband used to beat her up and starve her for days,” says her brother Raees. Gulshan didn’t lose hope and kept returning to her in-laws’ place so that her son could grow up there. The torture and abuse continued. Following this, she approached the Supreme Court.