NEW DELHI – India has criminalized the Muslim practice of “triple talaq” instant divorce.
The rule allowed a husband to dissolve a marriage instantly by repeating the word “talaq” (divorce) three times.
He did not need to be present and it could be done via a phone call, letter or on social media.
The custom was outlawed in India on Tuesday and is now punishable by up to three years imprisonment.
The Law for the Protection of the Marriage Rights of Muslim Women received approval from the Indian Senate.
A total of 99 legislators voted in favor and 84 against out of 241 members of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) of Indian Parliament.
The decision represents a victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hinduist Bharatiya Janata Party Party, which promoted the change in law.
Modi described the result as a “victory of gender justice” that will “further equality in society.”
He tweeted: “An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history!
“Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women.”
The Indian National Congress party, the main opposition group in the senate, expressed its disagreement with the new law, saying it failed to offer security for women.
Satish Mishra, one of the legislators, said during the debate over the bill that it will “destroy families.”
“Who will pay compensation to the victim (wife) if the husband is in jail?” he asked.
“Will the government give them compensation?
“The bill has a three-year prison term. But what will happen?
“Can they remain a husband and wife after three years?”
The law also had critics from within the community of Muslim women who also said it will cause vulnerability for families.
“Triple talaq” allowed Muslim husbands to end a marriage unilaterally, a practice that has resulted in around 67% of Muslim divorces in the country, according to activists.
It had already been declared unconstitutional by the Indian Supreme Court in August 2017.
Those opposed to the practice argued that it allowed men to expel women, leaving them suddenly unprotected on the streets.