For Shayara Bano, 15 years of marital torture that involved not one but several coerced abortions was not enough agony suffered. The 38-year-old was recovering from her last abortion in her parents' village in Kashipur when she received a rude shock in the form of a talaqnama (divorce deed) from her husband in Allahbad by post.
“I had 6-7 abortions without my consent. My husband would give me a tablet,” she revealed in an interview with Times of India, also adding how she was abused, beaten and threatened.
Shayara, who has not been able to speak to her children (who are still in Allahbad since being handed the divorce, is determined, like many Muslim women in the country, to campaign for a ban on the triple talaq.
Last year, a survey by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), an NGO that fights for the rights of the community in India revealed that 92.1 per cent of women surveyed wanted a total ban on oral and unilateral talaq, while 75.5 per cent women want the age of marriage to be above 18 years for girls and 93% favoured an arbitration process to be mandatory before divorce. The survey also showed that muslim women opposed polygamy, with 91.7 per cent claiming they did not want their husbands to marry another woman in the subsistence of first marriage.
With the help of two advocates, Shayara has filed a petition at the Supreme Court, seeking a ban on a practise that has been outlawed in several countries around the world, and is also hoping to acquire custody of her children.
Shayara whose ambition of becoming a teacher was cut short by her marriage, claimed that she did not desert her husband and children for fear of earning a bad reputation. “There were constant demand for dowry from my husband, who is a property dealer. He wanted an Alto car, Rs 6-7 lakh in cash…. The abortions gave me infections, made me sick. I came to my parents house for a few days to rest,” she told ToI, adding that she did not want other women to go through the same pain.
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