Not justice but political

Kashmir Times. Dated: 1/11/2018 2:46:47 PM

The Triple Talaq bill is ambiguous, misleading, unfair and betrays BJP's political design by raising selective concern

By bringing in a law on Triple Talaq, the Narendra Modi led BJP government has tried to project itself as a messiah of Muslim women and tried to build as euphoric and misplaced opinion by bracketing the law within the paradigm of 'humanity' and not justice. Modi during his Gujarat campaign had declared that banning Triple Talaq is not a political question, but a matter of bringing justice to Muslim women and that his government would soon enact a law criminalising Triple Talaq. The bill is unjustified. It does not deal with a societal problem at the receiving end of which are Muslim women but criminalises instant Triple Talaq, which has already been struck down by the Supreme Court. Neither does it ensure gender justice as is being proclaimed. Rather it props up ambiguities and puts women at a more disadvantageous position. The BJP has been flagging the sustenance allowance and the right to children's custody that the bill promises and the right to the aggrieved woman to press criminal charges against her husband for uttering the instant Triple Talaq. While the latter is draconian in nature, if the Triple Talaq has already been illegalized and the marriage is intact, the question of deciding custody of the children or sustenance allowance for the deserted wife is ironic. The sustenance allowance provision rather is humiliating as legally, a married woman is entitled to an equal share in the family resources and has a right to live in her husband's house. Allowances and custody battles are already addressed by the decade old domestic violence related law, which is a uniform civil law and applicable to women of all religions. BJP only exposes its hypocrisy by batting for uniform civil code and bringing in a special bill, which is ambiguous and misleading, for Muslim women.
The BJP has been taking credit for doing away with the Triple Talaq even though, last year the Triple Talaq has already been struck down by a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court. In view of that judgement there was no urgent need to enact a bill that endorses the Supreme Court verdict and adds a criminalizing statute to it. The BJP has emphatically denied any politicking over the issue. But clearly, the bill is nothing but an ugly political agenda that appears to be part of a larger project and fits in with the Hindu right wing's imagination of a nation where the Muslims can be demonized and suppressed. BJP's clever political rhetoric of justice and humanity while tabling this bill put the entire opposition on the backfoot making it an easy sail for the bill to be passed in the Lok Sabha. A belated realization on part of the opposition finally in the upper house of the parliament ended up in deferring the bill. Clearly, all this is politicking from a party that needs to explain its selective concern for Muslim women whose rights the party conveniently overlooks when it comes to harassment and heinous crimes against women during communal riots or those impacted by the Love Jehad and beef politics issues. The BJP may also have much to answer about its hypocrisy of trying to act as a savior of the oppressed Muslim women, while papering over the grim reality of several other harsh practices that victimize women of other religions on a daily basis including the repulsive statistics of female foeticide, not to forget the scale of women abandoned by their husband even without use of religion. To put it brazenly, the prime minister's own wife joins that list. The issues of domestic violence and desertion are common for women of all faith, even though arbitrary and instant Triple Talaq is specific only to Muslims. The BJP's emphasis on Muslim women alone exposes the communal and parochial nature of its agenda. The fact is that the arbitrary and gender unequal nature of divorce leaves the women of all faiths totally unprotected and despite existing laws, many of them are uneducated and not economically empowered enough to fight their legal battles. If the law has anything to do with gender justice, the principle needs to be adopted in cases of women of other faiths, who are equally reeling the consequences of gender slavery. The selective overtones of the argument smack of a heinous political design.

 

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