The government said on Tuesday that it is contemplating making triple talaq a criminal offence. In August, the Supreme Court had labelled this practice – where Muslim men are allowed to divorce their wives by simply saying talaq, or divorce, three times – unconstitutional. But the government thinks more stringent measures are needed to ensure the updated rules are followed. Now that it is clear the Bharatiya Janata Party sees itself as the champion liberator of Muslim women, I have some ideas by which India’s ruling party can supplement this portfolio.
It is great that the BJP is helping Muslim women in toxic marriages with their rights, but what about the worries and fears of Muslim women who are in fulfilling relationships? Saving a marriage has always been more important in Indian culture than safely exiting this sacred union, right?
These days, Muslim women are scared to even send their husbands/sons to deliver their specially prepared festive mutton curry to friends and family. Their dairy farmer husbands struggle to transport their expensive milch cows from Point A to Point B for fear that they will be attacked and murdered en route. I think the government can ensure stricter police protection for the men whose Muslim wives and mothers and sisters (your favourite way of viewing women) live with the everyday fear of their family members being killed.
Protection, jobs, justice
If a lynching incident does occur, the government should also declare this unconstitutional and do everything it can to support the grieving family. Ensure that the police file cases against the right group of people, that is, the perpetrators of violence and not the victims of the attack. There are enough recent examples where survivors of an attack have been arrested falsely under various state bovine slaughter laws.
Here is another idea for the government if it really wants to send a strong message to Muslim women. Remember Junaid Khan, the bright teenager who was attacked and murdered on a train over a row about seats after being called Pakistani, beef-eater and circumcised? His mother has expressed her desire to set up a school for girls in his name. Help her execute this dream, dear ruling party. That would really make you a champion among Muslim women.
Your crackdown on the Muslim-dominated meat and leather industries has resulted in many husbands of Muslim women being jobless. If you really want to help these women, please figure out how to rehabilitate their husbands. No woman wants her husband to be laid off.
Learn how to give stronger speeches from other politicians in your party, like those who threaten to behead and burn actors who dare work in a film. Instead of saying things like “I get angry when I see people, in the garb of cow protection, doing business”, say something like “I will make an example of the next group of people who think they can express religious hatred in the guise of cow protection”. In your next radio programme or television appearance or tweet that will be read by millions of your faithful followers, make the nation repeat/retweet: Human lives are more valuable than bovine lives.
Spread the love
The Taj Mahal is the biggest, baddest Indian symbol of love for a Muslim woman. Instead of calling it a “blot on Indian culture” and saying it does not “reflect Indian culture”, showcase it as a monument of love, remembrance and passion.
Foster an environment where Muslim women can marry whom they please. I know, I know… Hindus are your biggest voter constituency, so encourage Hindu women to find their true love across communities. I have said this before, reclaim love jihad as an idea for modern India and watch Hindu and Muslim women vote for you.
And since you as a political party have repeatedly expressed interest in saving women, start by making marital rape illegal.
Priya Ramani writes a column for Mint Lounge.