The lives of thousands of women are in a limbo because their husbands refuse them divorce (mis) using sharia law. Mohammad Afzal Sofi reports about women whose lives are caught in between civil courts, sharia law and unrelenting husbands.
Rukhsana, 32, has been waiting forthe last four years to get a khullah (divorce) from her husband for which she has knocked many doors. But her husband, she says, is adamant not to do so.
“I don’t know why is he giving me this punishment. He has made my life hell. I do not want to live with him,” says Rukhsana, who lives with her father at Sopore, along with her four-year-old son.
A month after her marriage she came to know her husband was suffering from epilepsy. But she was ready to live with him. However, things became intolerable after she was continuously abused and beating by her husband and In-laws. A year later she went to his father’s home and sought divorce from her husband.
“I have decided not to stay with that family. They are not humans,” says Rukhsana.
Unable to get divorce by the intervention of the mohalla committee, she finally moved court to get her marriage annulled. Rukhsana could not prove the disease and inhuman nature of her husband and in-laws.
Her next hope was Muslim Sharaiah Law Board, but even after one year the decision on her case is in abeyance.
Similar is the story of 24-year-old Rafeeqa Bano of Putushay, Bandipore. Within two months of her marriage she came to know about her husband’s extramarital affair.
Distressed, Rafeeqa moved a court to seek divorce but her husband is unwilling.
“He wants to keep both the marital and the extramarital relationship which is unacceptable to me,” saysRafeeqa.
Like Rukhsana and Rafeeqa, there are thousands of other women who are unable to find another suitable match for themselves because of their husbands’ refusal to legally part ways.
Under Islamic law,a marriage can’t be dissolved without the consent of the husband, a privilege often misunderstood and misused by recalcitrant men to keep a bloated ego.
But Islamic scholars say women can goto Islamic courts or Islamic Shariah Boards in present times to get justice.
“If a woman is able to prove the charges against her husband in Islamic Courts, she will definitely get justice,” said Mufti Abdul Rasheed, a cleric.
He said that men have been granted this right only to avoid greater chaos in the society but they are not ordained to misuse these rights.
“In Bandipore court alone there are at least 150 such cases registered presently,” said AltafHussain, an advocate.
In most of these cases women seek divorce citing reasons like insanity, inhuman behavior or impotence of their husbands. “In most cases women fail to prove it before the court even if the charges are true,” saysAltaf.
He believes lawyers always try to find amicable solutions to such cases but most of the time stubbornness of the husbands becomes the biggest hurdle. Some believe that the husband’s unwillingness to pay the Mehr, if it is a big amount of money, becomes the reason.
“Mostly husbands are unwilling or unable to pay the Mehr, which is mandatory. They keep the cases lingering and feel it easy to pay monthly maintenance instead,” said Mudasir, an advocate.
One such case is that of Raja Begum, 60, of ArinBandipora. She has been living separately with her three daughters since her husband’s remarriage twelve years ago.
The court directed her husband to divorce her or pay monthly maintenance to her and his daughters. He preferred to pay monthly maintenance over paying the huge amount of Mehr at single time.
Sociologists agree that it is an increasing trend in our society that husbands make the wrong use of their rights and turn the life of their wives into hell. “Nowadays society is witnessing an increasing trend of the wrong use of rights by men which makes the dissolving of unhappy marriages difficult.
This brings chaos in the society,” saysAsifaGul, a sociology scholar.“However, she said women can sometimes levy false charges on their husbands which could become one of the causes ofthe obduracy of husbands in such cases.”