This is the sixth in a series of videos 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.
Full English transcript of the interview below.
“I have five children – four daughters and one son. My husband left me when I was still pregnant with my youngest. Now, the youngest is six years old.
I can only feed my children once a day. I take on day labour, and only cook for them once I come home. They only eat at night. Rain or shine, I have to work, or else the children will have to go hungry. Four of my children are going to school now. For one day, I only earn about Rs, 500 -600. What can I do with that money? My elderly father and mother also live with me.
The Quazi court ordered my husband to give Rs. 15,000 in maintenance payments for my five children. He only gives me between Rs. 7000 and Rs. 10,000 – he won’t give me more than that. Sometimes he says he is not well and doesn’t give me the full amount. He still owes me one and a half year’s worth of payments.
I asked the Quazi court judge to order him to give me the full amount. The Quazi court judge said, “He is giving you Rs. 10,000 at least. I can’t ask him to give more.” How can we survive on just Rs. 10,000 with five children?
The court case is ongoing in my husband’s hometown, so I have to go to Jaffna for the hearings. I have to leave my children, spend Rs. 2000 and go to Jaffna. Since my youngest child doesn’t need to pay for a ticket, I take him for support. When we go there, my husband refuses to give the money. So after spending money and going there, I have to return with nothing. I am really tired of going to Jaffna and back once a month. If they change the location of the hearings, it would be a big help for me.”