Union minister Maneka Gandhi on Saturday assured help to a Muslim woman who alleged that her husband had given her triple talaq over WhatsApp.
This is the first case reported of instant triple talaq after the Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill on December 27. The bill seeks to make the practice of triple talaq – which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by uttering the word “talaq” three times in spoken or written forms, or via electronic communication – a penal offence.
Gandhi said the Ministry of Women and Child Development has taken up the matter on absolute priority. “This is the first instance post the passing of the bill, criminalising the act of instant divorce in the Muslim community will be dealt with and we shall ensure that justice is done,” Gandhi said on Twitter.
Gandhi added that her ministry has reached out to the brother of the woman and has requested for details. “We stand in complete solidarity with our sisters of the Muslim community. The ministry consistently endeavours to socially and legally empower Muslim women and has always taken a strong stand in support of them,” she said.
The Bengaluru woman claimed that her husband, who is a surgeon based in the United States, had given her triple talaq through WhatsApp messages. “He left me at my parents’ place, went back to the US, divorced me through a message,” she told ANI. “I can’t reach my kids.”
Speaking to News18, the woman alleged that her husband left for the US taking all her documents along. “He had taken away my passport, academic certificates and other identity cards,” she told News18. “On December 4, a day after I filed the police complaint, he sent me talaq on WhatsApp.”
She also said that she has met the joint secretary of Ministry of External Affairs about the matter. She requested External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to help her.
The triple talaq bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 17 to replace an ordinance issued in September. The new Bill will replace an earlier draft legislation that was passed by the Lok Sabha but is pending in the Upper House because of protests by the Opposition. The government had to make a few changes to the law, including the introduction of a provision of bail for men accused of practising triple talaq, to make it more acceptable.