NEW DELHI: Sameena Begum, who has become the face of the fight against Nikah Halala and polygamy, is facing death threats. With three children to raise and not much parental support after her father’s death, Sameena’s life has become an endless struggle for survival as well as justice. The 40-year-old does not have enough money to support her family. Though she is trained in acupressure therapy, she refuses to step out of her one-room rented apartment in south-east Delhi to see her patients due to the “constant threat” to her life.
Sameena’s troubles began in 1999, when her father, a government school teacher from Sambhal (UP), got her married at the age of 18 to a man in Delhi. After being beaten and abused by her husband for dowry, she filed a police complaint and was given talaq soon after. Sameena’s family forced her to remarry an older man who was already married. However, during her third pregnancy she was again given triple talaq over the phone following a trivial argument.
Now, with the Centre building a case to ban Nikah Halala and polygamy, Sameena, who is one of the main petitioners in the case along with Delhi-based advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, hopes to put an end to the misery of other women like her. She is elated as last week, the Supreme Court sought reply from the Centre on her petition. “I started talking to other women through activists and the social media and formed an NGO Mission Talaq,” she said and alleged that she was facing threats to her life from residents and gangsters in Okhla Vihar, where she had tried to rent a house.
After a lot of struggle, Sameena managed to get security from local police, but complains that the two personal security officers rarely report for duty, leaving her vulnerable.“The goons are forcing me to withdraw the case, but I am determined to fight for the cause of Muslim women and will take this to its logical conclusion,” said a resolute Sameena.
Sameena Begum’s plea in Supreme Court
In her petition, Sameena said that by virtue of Muslim Personal Law, IPC Section 494 (which makes marrying again during the lifetime of spouse a punishable offence) was rendered inapplicable to Muslims and no woman from the community could file a complaint against her husband for bigamy.