Several activists, including those specifically devoted to women’s rights, have released a statement condemning the government’s attempts to “criminalise Muslim men in the guise of protecting Muslim women” through the Triple Talaq Bill which was passed on Tuesday in the Rajya Sabha.
Questioning why the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill, 2019, was not sent to a parliamentary committee but instead passed in “great haste,” the signatories vowed to petition President Ram Nath Kovind to not sign it into a law. The president’s assent is the only step left for the Bill to become an Act.
“At a time when all right-thinking Indians are alarmed at the daily barbaric acts of lynching of Muslims and the impunity to the perpetrators being provided by the government, this bill is a complete charade. You cannot pretend to save Muslim women, while seeking to bring the Muslim community to its knees,” the statement read.
Repeating earlier criticism of the Bill and how it glosses over the actual process of providing justice to Muslim women, the activists argue that imprisoning a husband leaves the complainant at the mercy of her matrimonial family. Such a family, they say, could turn hostile towards the wife for complaining against the husband and putting him behind bars.
The bill neither addresses nor concerns itself with the financial security of the woman and her children, say the signatories, who also point out how the Bill becomes the first instance in free India where criminal provisions have been brought into matters of marriage and divorce which are avowedly civil matters.
The signatories also criticised the role of opposition parties in this regard. “The time opposition leaders have spent in making passionate speeches against this bill would have been better spent in reaching out to all parties and ensuring their presence for this vote. This is not the kind of opposition that many Indians voted for, and we deserve and demand better. We urge the opposition to stand up to its constitutional duty and protect Indian democracy that is being eroded by the day, with the number of anti-people legislations that are being passed by the government,” the statement says.
Below are the groups and individuals who have signed the statement: