Muslim women have some of the highest divorce rates in India, figures from Census 2011, released last week, suggest. Data further point out that of all married Muslim women, those between the ages of 20 and 34 are most susceptible to being divorced.
According to a report in The Times of India, 5 in every 1,000 Muslim women are vulnerable to being divorced, compared to 2-3 per 1,000 among Jain, Hindu and Sikh women. The report indicates that the custom of triple talaq — in which a Muslim man can divorce his wife by declaring his intention orally — is one of the reasons behind the high incidence of divorce in the community.
Incidentally, on Tuesday, a Muslim woman filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the triple talaq. She argued that such arbitrary means of divorce violates Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which guarantees every citizen the right to life with dignity.
Census 2011 further reveals that 5.5 in 1,000 Hindu couples tend to get separated, including cases of wives being abandoned by husbands, though the rate of divorce among Hindus is 1.8 per 1,000. The reason behind the lower rate of divorce could be the social stigma attached to it among Hindus, the report adds.
Some of the other findings in the Census show that Buddhists have the highest number of people who have lost a spouse to death, followed by Christians. Rates of widowhood are also much higher among Hindus and Sikhs than Muslims. Figures show that generally women tend to live longer than men, as a result, the number of widows is 2-3 times more than widowers across all communities.
Muslims also have the lowest average life expectancy of all communities India, which results in the least number of widowed people, at about 73 per thousand married persons. Among Hindus and Sikhs, the number is about 88 per thousand, while for Christians it is 97 and for Buddhists it is 100.
Among those who have attained the marriageable age, 21 years for men and 18 years for women, Hindus have the lowest percentage of unmarried men (16%) and unmarried women (10%). Christians have the highest number of unmarried persons of marriageable age — 21% men and 18% women.
Across all communities, less women remain unmarried after attaining the legal age than men in the same age bracket. This indicates that the pressure on women to get married is much stronger than it is on men.
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