Alien Messages: Talaq, talaq, talaq

Kalpana: “Charo, did you know that, according to Sharia law, a man can get instant divorce just by uttering the word ‘talaq’ three times in front of his wife? He can even achieve the same result by emailing or texting the word three times.”

Charo: “I know. It’s an appalling practice. The thing is, women who get this talaq divorce are left on the street without support from their husbands, who are not even required to return the dowry.”

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Kalpana: “Well, the Indian government takes it very seriously to protect a woman’s right to have her dowry back, if she reports the talaq divorce, but, of course, many cases go unreported. In India, as in many other Eastern countries, the dowry is traditionally a very important investment in a daughter’s life; one for which parents have to save throughout their lives. This dowry tradition is slowly disappearing, yet it is still prevalent. Unfortunately, sometimes daughters that have been victims of talaq divorce will need to return to their parents’ home without patrimony or future.”

Charo: “Oh, but it gets even worse! If the husband regrets his talaq decision and wants to make amends, his unwilling ex-wife will need to go through a process called Halala, whereby she will need to marry another man, consummate the marriage, and then get this second man to say “talaq” three times to her, so that she can go back to her ex-husband. Sounds like a contract drafted by the Marx Brothers. I don’t know how they can follow up the clauses.”

Kalpana: “That’s pretty much it, yes. In 2016, a group of courageous Muslim women in India started a campaign to ban talaq. In 2017, triple talaq divorce was banned, considered unconstitutional and subsequently criminalized by the Supreme Court of India, thanks to this group of women.”

Charo: “I see that fatwas (strong personal boycotts) have been publicly issued by Imams against many of these women, for supposedly attacking their religion, even though the triple talaq divorce is not mentioned in their Sacred Book, but it is a law created by men.”

Kalpana: “I don’t think a fatwa will stop these activists, many of whom have already lost everything to the abusive triple talaq divorce.”

Charo: “There is a massive awakening among Muslim women who want a fair place in law, society and religion, and this cannot be stopped easily. In any case, I’m happy to live in a country where, if a woman receives a triple talaq text, she can answer it with a triple middle finger emoji.”

Kalpana: “Or even better, the text can be answered by her lawyer.”

Charo: “If you are a husband in Fort St. John, don’t try this at home. It will almost certainly backfire.”

Kalpana: “I propose a toast to these brave women that are still fighting to get the rights and freedoms we take for granted here in Canada.”

Charo: “Indeed. Cheers to them!”

Charo Lloret is from Spain; Kalpana Loganathan is from India. Both call Fort St. John home. Each week, they’ll reflect on their experiences immigrating to Canada and settling into their new homes in Fort St. John through a series of dialogues called Alien Messages. 

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