‘Talaq… And I Was Homeless In A Second’

Shazia Khan was just 26 when the word talaq uttered three times tore her life apart thirteen years ago. She is one of the many Muslim women who came forward last year when the government took up the issue of this instant form of divorce. On December 28, 2017, the Lok Sabha passed The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, making instant triple talaq in any form – spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp – illegal and void, with up to three years in jail for the husband. The Bill remains to be passed by the Rajya Sabha, with the NDA committed to getting it through and the Opposition adamant on referring it to a select committee. Meanwhile, here is Shazia’s story:   I was a teenager when my nikaah took place with a complete stranger from Pilibhit at my hometown Aligarh in 1993. I had no choice in this matter; destiny took me to Delhi. My husband, Aslam Khan, ran a small watch shop in Karol Bagh. We stayed with my husband’s aunt for some time and later bought our own house in East Delhi, after selling the village house. A month into my marriage, I got to know my husband was an alcoholic who would frequently pass out in public and would have to be carried home. Life went on, however, and I got pregnant less than a year into the marriage. I had a son, and my in-laws also moved in. We had another son later. One day, my husband sold the house and took a ₹36,000 advance from a buyer, a known bad character of our locality. I intervened and made sure the advance was returned. Later, I bought a plot in Mustafabad and built a house there. It was the turn of household items then. One day Aslam and I had an argument after he sold my mixer-grinder. It ended in silence with Aslam saying talaq three times. Our neighbour, Islam bhai, came and told me that I can’t live in the same house with my husband. “Aap yahan nahi reh sakte ho bhabhi (You cannot live here any longer),” he said. Just like that, I was homeless. I moved in with a cousin in Shahdara, Delhi, and called my brothers. We then filed a report of domestic cruelty against my husband, in-laws, my husband’s aunt and her son. Soon enough, my husband apologised and I agreed to go back. My first question, however, was, “How can we live together after talaq?” The answer was, “Marry him again”. This was my encounter with halala, the wedding of a divorced woman to someone else before she can remarry her first ex-husband. My halala husband was Rizwan, my husband’s friend. He was paid ₹1,000 for this deal. My only condition was that Rizwan would have no physical contact with me. As soon as I got back with Aslam, there was another shock waiting: the Mustafabad house had been sold. I was shattered, yet again. Somehow, I found the will to sort out this problem too. The property was registered in my name, so I took over the sale and took about ₹150,000 from the buyer. And ran, leaving even my kids with Aslam. I left for Aligarh, and from there Meerut, where I got a job at a doctor’s clinic. Years passed, till one day my younger son’s ill-health brought me face-to-face with Aslam again. He convinced me into living together again. We rented a flat in Delhi. It wasn’t over, though. One night I woke up to find my husband having sex with a eunuch. No words were exchanged this time, and it was really the end. I’ve been on my own since then, working one job after another to get by. The triple talaq bill is for women like me who’ve fought a losing battle against this practice all their lives.


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#MyVote2019 – 'Modi Is Good, Quota Isn't'

Pradeep Kumar, 28, Employed With An Apparel Brand, in New Delhi   First things first: Modi ji ke aane se fayda to hua hai (Narendra Modi has been beneficial for the country). The thing that has impressed me the most is his dedication towards a cleaner India. Many youngsters like me think twice before littering and I have seen government offices taking cleanliness more seriously as well. Such campaigns appeal to a civilised citizen. Besides, work is getting done now. In my native state, Uttarakhand, there have been commendable infrastructural activity. The work on the all-weather road connecting the famous chhota chaar dham, namely Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, is on in full flow. Earlier, the roads used to be in a poor condition in many areas in Uttarakhand, especially during monsoons, but the connectivity is much better these days. Of late, many people are talking about the Modi government’s decision to allocate 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections among the upper castes. It doesn’t impact me since I am not a government job aspirant and I already have a job. Frankly, I don’t believe in quota system in employment. Getting a job is about how much drive, confidence and sincerity you have in yourself. Reservation or not, those who have the drive will carve a successful career. I do understand that there are remote areas where people don’t get the opportunity for equal education. That part of reservation policy is fine but it has to stop after a point. On a personal levels, many of Modiji’s decisions that people criticise didn’t affect me directly. I didn’t suffer during demonetisation, though it was tough to see many others stand in long queues. The rise in petrol prices hasn’t affected me much since I don’t have a private vehicle and always travel by public transport. In fact more people have started using public transport, as I see the vehicles getting more crowded. But isn’t that a good thing? Thus, I believe Modiji is currently the best bet we have for a Prime Minister. I don’t see any other leader in close competition. Mujhe nahi lagta ki Rahul Gandhi me PM waali quality hai (I do not think Rahul Gandhi has the virtues to become prime minister of India). Every time I have heard him speak, his focus has been more on what the government has done wrong. He is silent on what his remedy is. He should also speak about what his party will do when it comes to power. Mere hisab se unhe abhi bahut kuch sikhne ki jarurat hai (He needs to learn a lot). So, overall, I want Modiji to come back to power in 2019. There may be many things that need to be changed about his governance style but I think he has done a good job so far in his current term as the leader of the nation.  ]]>

#MeToo: Akbar To Brazen It Out, Won't Quit

Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped in to a frenzy “Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action,” he said. Terming the entire situation as distressing, Akbar said, “Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped in to a frenzy.” Over the last few days, multiple women have come out with accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar when he was a journalist as the #MeToo movement swept social media, bringing to fore claims of sexual harassment by influential men in different walks of life. The women who accused Akbar of sexual harassment include Priya Ramani, Ghazala Wahab, Shuma Raha, Anju Bharti and Shutapa Paul, among others. Akbar sought to give a point by point rebuttal to their charges, saying while some of the accusations are totally, “unsubstantiated hearsay” others confirm, on record, that “I didn’t do anything”. “It is pertinent to remember that both Ms Ramani and Ms Wahab kept working with me even after these alleged incidents; this clearly establishes that they had no apprehension and discomfort. The reason why they remained silent for decades is very apparent: as Ms Ramani has herself stated, ‘he never did anything’,” Akbar said. Elaborating further, the MoS external affairs said a campaign against him was started by Ramani a year ago with a magazine article.  “She did not however name me as she knew it was an incorrect story. When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied in a tweet, never named him because he did not do anything,” Akbar said. “If I didn’t do anything, where and what is the story? There is no story. This was admitted at the very inception. But a sea of innuendo, speculation and abusive diatribe has been built around something that has never happened,” he said. Similarly, Akbar said Shutapa Paul also stated that the “man never laid a hand on me” while Shuma Raha also clarified “he didn’t actually ‘do’ anything”.  He said that Anju Bharti’s claim that he was partying in a swimming pool was “absurd” as “I do not know how to swim”. Among all the allegations, Akbar, in elaborate detail, countered Wahab’s charges terming them as false, motivated and baseless. The minister said he worked with her only at The Asian Age newspaper, whose editorial team then worked out of a small hall and he had a very tiny cubicle. The tables and chairs of other colleagues at the office were just two feet away from his cubicle, he said. “It is utterly bizarre to believe that anything could have happened in that tiny space, and, moreover, that no one else in the vicinity would come to know, in the midst of a working day. These allegations are false, motivated and baseless,” Akbar said. Responding to Wahab’s claim that she complained to Veenu Sandal, who wrote features for the paper, Akbar said Sandal described her (Wahab’s) version as “nonsense” in an interview to an English daily and also said she never heard in 20 years anybody accusing him of any such thing. Asserting that the women remained silent for decades because he never did anything, the editor-turned-politician said, “this is the reason why no one went to the authorities for so long, because I had done nothing”. Demands for Akbar’s removal were made by some political parties, after his name cropped up on social media as part of the #MeToo movement. While the CPI(M) and the Shiv Sena demanded Akbar’s resignation, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had said the #MeToo campaign is a “very big issue”. He has not commented on Akbar directly. (PTI)]]>