"Uniformity of Rights Needed More Than Uniformity of Laws"

SHREYANSI SINGH
Saturday, May 13,2017

NEW DELHI: Triple Talaq that allows Muslim men to get a divorce instantly has been a controversial issue with a five member Supreme Court currently hearing petitions by womens groups seeking to ban this pratice.

FLAVIA AGNES a well known gender rights lawyer and women’s rights activist raises some very relevant points about an issue she has been involved in for decades in this interview with Shreyansi Singh.

Excerpts:

Q. What are your views on imposing a ban on triple Talaq?

First of all, Triple talaq is a misnomer. The SC is hearing petitions to declare instantaneous Triple talaq invalid.

Many judgements invalidate the need for imposing a ban on instant triple talaq. In 2002, a detailed procedure for Islamic divorce was laid down. The whole argument right now is on whether the practice is Quranic or not.

It has already been declared invalid in 2002.

Q. Do you think getting rid of personal laws can uplift women, especially Muslim women?

Hindu Women aren’t uplifted either. Why is there an emphasis on Muslim women when there are already legislations for them? Dowry death is a greater violation of Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty). But nobody talks about that because it is not fashionable to talk about dowry deaths. More Hindu divorcees are there in the country according to the census. Triple Talaq isn’t even as common as it is portrayed to be.

There are customs within the community and the marital rituals of that community are aligned in accordance with the customs.

Q. Can a uniform law such as the Uniform Civil Code bring in uniformity of rights?

Uniformity of Rights is needed more than uniformity of law. So many women aren’t even aware of their laws and they haven’t used them. Even before getting a triple talaq from a man a Muslim woman may have faced a lomg history of domestic violence but nobody talks about that. All we talk about is Triple talaq,not what precedes it.

Community setups and outside the court settlements are preferred by women also because they are more accessible and less expensive. They don’t cause too much delay.

Q. What do you think is needed at the moment- more laws or better implementation of the existing ones?

I strongly believe better implementation is needed. There are so many women who aren’t even aware of their rights. There has to be a better mechanism to access courts. Women are scared of going to the court and since awareness isn’t there the ground level work is not done. The laws that are there for Muslim women are sufficient if they know how to use them.

Awareness of their legal rights is needed for women.



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