Sale: Talaq for Rs 599

Something that is nothing less than a slap on the face of men who have been calling Indian legal system as gender-biased! Probably some of them may even call this as a one-off incident but the fact is that this is just one of those that is reported in public. Good that these women gave maulvi a slap and also had the guts to speak out about it.

In Lucknow, three Shia women beat up clerics who granted instant talaq to their husbands for a price. The victims are now fighting back, literally.

The first time Ali Imam brushed against her, Nishat Fatima dismissed it as an accident. Imam, her 67-year-old father-in-law, went a few steps further the next time. He barged into her room and tried kissing her. A terrified Nishat complained to her husband, who laughed off the advances and warned her not to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Ali Imam had allegedly tried the same trick on the other two daughters-in-law, Hina and Arshi, as well. Their husbands also made light of the issue till the three women got together, exchanged notes and resolved to fight back. Embarrassed, the husbands proceeded to get talaqs with shocking ease.

“It has proved to be an unequal fight,” says Fatima, carefully unrolling the talaqnama which puts an end to her 12-year nikah. “They have the mullahs on their side.” The muftis in Sultanul Madaris Darul Qaza (Shariat Court) in Lucknow gave an ex parte divorce without giving her an opportunity to be heard — a mandatory precondition among the Shia sect. Hina met a similar fate, and now Arshi is waiting for her estranged husband to flash a talaqnama any day.

“All it costs is Rs 599 to ruin a woman’s life,” Fatima sighs, though the 35-year-old school teacher is happy that she has had a chance to hit back quite literally.

Last Tuesday, the three women broke into the Darul Qaza and accosted the muftis. When the clergy tried to shoo them off, the women pounced on them and caught two of them by surprise. Blocking the passage, they showered them with blows and expletives even as a third ran for cover. “I don’t regret it one bit. This is the least I could do to settle scores with a man who brought me and my children to the road,” says Arshi.

A post-graduate with a law degree, the attractive young woman finds herself named in the FIR as one of the three accomplices for assaulting the clerics. She is unfazed. “What was expected of me? Wait till my father-in-law turned me into another Imrana (see box)? she shoots back. Assaulting the maulvis was the last resort, the women claim. “We tried all venues to seek justice… went to the police station, to the senior clerics of the Shia sect, also to the Women’s Commission. But nothing worked, no one helped,” Fatima recalls. Her husband, a property dealer in Nainital, procured the talaq to marry his girlfriend who was pregnant with his child. “I knew he was wayward, but thought he was humane and would not desert me and our 10-year-old son.” Her worst fears came true when she was shown a copy of the talaqnama.

Buying a talaq is as simple as shopping for meat. You quote your price, bargain, strike a deal and come back with a sealed and signed document that no one can question. This is not the first time a talaq has been bought for a price in Lucknow. But, this is certainly the first time an aggrieved woman has dared to raise her hand against the maulvis.


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