The Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a historic verdict, invalidating the Islamic practice of instant Triple Talaq, by which Muslim men can divorce their wives verbally. Women’s rights groups across India celebrated this judgment as a major victory. Here are some other misogynistic traditions and laws that women’s groups would like to see struck down.
In 1860, the Indian Penal Code prohibited polygamy among Christians. In 1955, the Hindu Marriage Act did so for Hindus, except Hindus in the state of Goa, where polygamy continues to be legal. Muslim men, however, have the right to marry four women. However, women are not accorded the same rights in any community. Under the Hindu Marriage Act, if a man marries a second woman, she may be considered a “mistress” but not a wife. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that a woman in a live-in relationship may be considered a “wife”, unless it can be proven otherwise. In October 2015, the SC had said that it was “considering banning” polygamy.
Nikah Halala is a practice which states that if a Muslim divorcee has to remarry her husband, she must first marry another man, consummate the second marriage and then either get her new husband to divorce her or wait for him to die. In April 2017, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) came out with a Code of Conduct, which said that “a man can rejoin with his wife in three months after single talaq and can remarry after three months without the woman having to go through nikah halala”.
One of India’s oldest traditions is that of child marriages and child brides. According to some accounts, this practice dates back over a thousand years. The first law to restrict child marriage was brought back in 1922. Any man above the age of 18, who enters into a marriage with a minor, can be punished. The legal age for marriage is 18 for women and 21 for men. While the practice is illegal, it persists in many corners of India. Moreover, the law does not automatically annul child marriages that have taken place anyway. Both boys and girls, who are forced into child marriages, have the option of annulling their child marriage till after two years of reaching adulthood. India’s law on child marriage further complicates anti-rape laws too. While the age of consent for women is 16, forced sexual intercourse between a man and his wife (marital rape) is not considered rape if the wife is above the age of 15.
Image is for representation