India urged to ban instant divorces

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The Independent Online

Pressure is mounting in India to ban the traditional Muslim practice that allows a man to divorce his wife by saying "I divorce you" three times to her, without legal proceedings. It is already illegal in many Islamic countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Pressure is mounting in India to ban the traditional Muslim practice that allows a man to divorce his wife by saying "I divorce you" three times to her, without legal proceedings. It is already illegal in many Islamic countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

The practice is called "triple talaq", because the man must repeat the Arabic word talaq, which means "I divorce you", three times. Women are allowed to divorce their husbands under Islamic law, but for them a divorce is much harder to come by.

Some Indian Muslim men are divorcing their wives by e-mail, or mobile phone text message, by sending them the word talaq three times.

Indian law allows family matters, including marriage and divorce, to be governed by the traditions of the major religious communities. Women's groups have been campaigning against it for years. Many Muslims say the practice is an abuse of sharia, Islamic law. The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board has declared talaq a sin.

But although the board has the legal authority to ban it, it lacks the religious authority. "The board cannot go against sharia," a spokesman said.

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