Even as much of everyday life moves online, in Hyderabad some qazis are shifting divorce proceedings onto Whatsapp and email as well. These qazis are exploiting a provision in Islamic divorce law that says that a man should be present during proceedings when his wife wants a divorce, but fails to mention a similar requirement in the reverse case.
While the majority of qazis in the city are opposed to this practice, they find that some few are turning to these practices for the large fees they can receive from men for performing such tasks.
Syed Shah Noorul Asian Soofi, the 49-year-old Chief qazi of Secunderabad Cantonment jurisdiction, says he has seen some cases where husbands who do not wish to inform their wives prepare a divorce affidavit on their own, and expect the qazis to inform the spouses of the divorce. “We don’t encourage one-sided talaqs, but a few qazis in the city are helping these husbands in getting one-sided divorces after charging them more money. They are also sending the divorce papers through WhatsApp and emails.”
40-year-old Qazi Mohammad Abdul Rehman Saboor from Amberpet says that they regularly get cases of men wanting to divorce their wives for a great many reasons, many of which they try to discourage. He narrates that he recently received one man who came to him saying that he wants to divorce his wife because she works late in a beauty parlour and comes home only around 1 am in the morning. He also was unhappy with his wife wearing make-up to work.
In all such cases, the qazi says, most responsible qazis first try to counsel couples and help them reach a reconciliation. “We generally don’t encourage anyone, whether women or men, to come to us by themselves. I asked him to come along with his wife so that we can counsel both of them. Often, even wives come alone but we usually send them back asking to them come again with their husbands’’, says Abdul Rehman.
Jameela Nishat, founder of Shaheen's Women Resource and Welfare Association says that awareness has to be raised among people, and processes of reconciliation strictly followed in order to ensure equality between men and women. “When men want to break the relationship, it’s easy. But when women want to take talaq it’s not easy. The man has to approve,” she says.
Many of the qazis of Hyderabad have now begun to take note of these one-sided divorces, and to decline all such requests. The way forward, they say, is to educate people on the injustice of one-sided talaqs. “We can only avoid all this by building awareness among people. Women have the right to know why their husbands want to get separated from them,” says Syed Shah Noorul.
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