This is the third in a series of video interviews conducted by sister publication Maatram, highlighting the difficulties faced by women under the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA).
Article 16 of the constitution states that existing written and unwritten laws, such as the MMDA, will continue in force even over constitutional law. There is currently a campaign for the reform of personal laws, with some calling for the repeal of Article 16 altogether.
Read below for an edited transcript of the video interview, in English:
I married at 23 years old. I have 3 schoolgoing children. My husband used to hit me, as he was suspicious that I was having an affair. If there was an object close by, he would take it and hit me with it. One day he told me, “I won’t bother you any more, but you have to give your house to my sister. I trusted that he would provide for me, and I gave my sister-in-law the house. However, my husband still continued to beat me. He said “I divorce you” twice (the talaq process allows a Muslim husband to initiate the divorce process by saying ‘I divorce you’ three times). He also told me to get out of the house. After that, he filed a case in Quazi courts asking for divorce. The case was heard in April, but the judge postponed it to July. However, the case was over before July, and I didn’t even know. My husband gave money to the judge, in order to expedite the case and settle it. He got the divorce. I didn’t observe the three month iddah (the waiting period for a Muslim woman after a death or a divorce) as I didn’t even know the case was over until after about 2 months. About Rs. 200,000 was given as a settlement payment. My father collected it. He didn’t give me on cent of that money, even though I went home and asked him for it. Now, my husband has remarried and is living happily. My children and I are living in a rented house, with the greatest of difficulty. We have received no help from anyone. Only Allah knows my troubles. I can’t work. My head and back still hurt from where he hit me, and I can’t go out in sunlight. After continuous fighting, my husband began giving me Rs. 10500 a month, but that is not enough for us to live. I found and spoke to the judge and explained that for us, rent is Rs. 3000 a month, so the maintenance payment is not enough. The judge said that he could only give Rs. 10500, and could not pay the amount I was asking for. How can my children be educated? Can we eat, or pay rent with this money? I don’t know what to do. I don’t want any other woman to face this kind of suffering and difficulty.