If you are not sure about reforming personal laws in India, then all you need to do is read the All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s recent affidavit to the Supreme Court filed on Friday.
Asking the Supreme Court to keep its hands off Islamic principles of marriage, talaq and polygamy, it stated that these laws are interwoven with religious and cultural rights of Muslims, and that any attempt to amend them would be a violation of fundamental rights.
Here are 9 excerpts from the affidavit which will make you cringe.
1. “Personal laws of a community cannot be re-written in the name of Social Reform.”
2. “Following a system of patriarchy, though certain practices in Islam appear to be apparently less favourable to the female, since father is the head of the family, the personal law is devised in such a manner that the rights and obligations are adjusted to create balance, for instance when Islam confers certain rights on the male, it also imposes obligations on him and while females are given lesser rights, no obligations are imposed on them, thereby creating harmony, even without disturbing balance.”
One of the justifications for Triple Talaq
3. “…in cases where serious discords develops between the parties and the husband wants to get rid of the wife, legal compulsions of time consuming separation proceedings and the high expenses of such a procedure may deter him from adopting such a course and in extreme cases he may resort to illegal criminal ways of getting rid of her by murdering her. In such cases, Triple Talaq, is a better recourse in comparison to these illegal ventures.”
4. “Shariah grants the right to divorce to husband because men have greater power of decision making. They are more likely to control emotions and not to take a hasty decision.”
5. “Securing separation through court entails that the weaknesses of the opposite party be brought into public domain. Some moral failings are considered more scandalous for women in our society. For example the charge against a male that he has loose conduct and temper may damage only a little his prospects of remarriage. However, husband’s same charge publicly against his wife about her loose character may deprive her the chance of remarriage. She may be more harmed than benefitted by court proceedings.”
6. “Granting husband the right to divorce indirectly provides security to wife. Marriage is a contract in which both the parties are not physically equal. Male is stronger and female weaker sex. Man is not dependent upon woman for his protection.”
7. “If there develops serious discord between the couple and husband does not at all want to live with her, legal compulsions of time consuming separation proceedings and expenses may deter him from taking the legal course. In such instances, he may resort to illegal, criminal ways of murdering or burning her alive.”
In defense of polygamy
8. “However, where women outnumber men and polygamy is not permitted, women will be forced into leading a spinster’s life. In sum, polygamy is not for gratifying men’s lust; it is a social need.”
9. “Men are awarded long term sentences for their heinous crimes which even deviant women cannot commit owing to their natural frailty.”
10. “Polygamy ensures sexual purity and chastity. Whenever polygamy has been banned, it emerges from history that illicit sex has raised its head.”
11. “Concern and sympathy for women lie at the core of the provision for polygamy. If a woman is chronically ill or if her husband is bet upon taking a second wife because of her barrenness, or any valid or flimsy ground, and if the option of polygamy is not available to, him he will either divorce her which is something reprehensible, or he may indulge in illicit polygamy. An unlawful mistress is more harmful for social fabric than a lawful second wife. For the former, blackmails him. In all the above instances, polygamy is a blessing, not a curse for women.”