Triple Talaq is an oppressive system as it leaves a women vulnerable to the whims and fancies of her husband, without any say in the painful process of separation. No modern democracy, which values rights of women, should have place for the practice, which makes a mockery of women’s dignity and equality. Thus when Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke against triple talaq, I was pleased that the long sought reform may finally take place.
But at the same time I wondered as to what Modi’s estranged wife Jashodaben might have felt listening to her husband’s preaching about abolishing of triple talaq in the guise of championing women’s rights.
For those who don’t know, Jashodaben is the separated wife of our current prime minister. She lives on her pension as a retired teacher without any support from Modi. Her own tragic personal experience, her understanding of Modi and her teaching background may have made her wonder about the hypocrisy of Modi turning into a champion for women’s rights.
Here are some of the thoughts that may have crossed her mind about why Modi’s tirade is abundant with hypocrisy.
What about abandoning her without her consent, not providing her any alimony and not even recognising her?
While for many women triple talaq may merely be a sword hanging over their heads, in Jashodaben’s case despite all that is in law, she personally experienced a fate worse than that which befalls those who have to undergo the trauma of this painful pronouncement.
Like them, her husband (Modi the preacher) left her without her consent, without even any due consultation. Like them, her husband does not provide her with any alimony. But unlike them, where at least the fact that they were married is not denied, for a very long time Jashodaben didn’t even have that public acknowledgement.
As reported by Janta Ka Reporter in November last year, the poor lady struggled to even get her passport made in the absence of any proof of her marriage with Modi.
It was only in 2014, when Modi officially acknowledged his marriage to her. Imagine how shattering it would have been for her, to have been even denied the acknowledgement of her marriage. How broken she would have felt when Modi left her without her consent? How vulnerable she would have felt when, Modi denied her alimony. She would have felt all that a woman going through the traumatic experiences of triple talaq felt and more. How we continue to remain aloof to her unspeakable misery perplexes me.
But perhaps her anguish would have been even more when she listened to Modi preach against triple talaq and invoke women’s rights. She would have felt disgusted at how willingly blind Indian public is, that it lets a man who treated her so miserably pretends to be a champion of women’s rights. Or perhaps she would have been laughing at how the masses can be made to believe anything if one has the right machinery to project oneself.
The hypocrisy of a man objectifying and demeaning women claiming to champion women’s rights
Yashodaben’s mind must also have wandered through the innumerable instances when Modi demeaned women and objectified them. Much before Donald Trump, Modi had scaled the pinnacle of demeaning women, who belonged to his opposite camp.
Whether it was his below the belt ’50 crore girlfriend’ jibe against the Congress MP Shashi Tharoor or it was attacking Misa Bharti with “Beto Set Nahi Kar Sake” comments during Bihar elections, Modi has shown no restraint in revealing his misogynistic traits.
It is the same misogyny that remains one of the biggest challenges towards creating a society, where women have equal rights and dignity. So to find that same politicians who excel in misogyny turn into women’s rights champion would have provided Jashodaben a good example to teach what hypocrisy means to her students.
The women’ rights champion whose party stall pro women reform
Jashidaben’s involvement with Modi means she would also be aware of how BJP has bitterly opposed criminalising martial rape. She would also have seen how Modi government has slept over the women’s reservation bill. Countless other such notable pro women reforms, which BJP scuttled to appease to the patriarchal minded conservative elements that make BJP’s core vote bank, would also have come to her mind. She would have got a good example to explain another word many students find difficult understanding- Irony.
How do religious rights of Hindus matter but that of Muslims don’t?
As a teacher, Jashoden would be aware of the the time (immediately after independence) when the entire Sangh Parivar had vigorously opposed Hindu code bill. They termed the reforms, whose champion was no less than the learned Dr. Ambedkar, as anti Hindu. They argued against government interfering in religious and personal affairs of Hindus. So Jashodaben would have marveled at the inconsistency of the Sangh parivar. It was against government forcing reforms upon Hindu but the Hindutva brigade has suddenly developed a sudden bout of profound empathy, thus demanding the same for Muslim women.
The Misogynist women rights activist
Jashodaben would also have remembered how misogyny is fundamental to the BJP and the RSS. It assaults women for not dressing according to their diktats and for celebrating Valentine’s Day and makes mockery of women’s ability to decide who they want to marry through campaigns like Love Jihad (which assumes Hindu women are foolish and need the society to decide who they should marry.) And not to forget how Modi, the women rights activist, had kept a rape accused Nihal Chand in his cabinet for as long as possible. He also shielded Maya Kodnani, his former minister in Gujarat government after she was accused of leading an attack on Muslims (including women and children).
In light of all of it, Jashodaben would likely have come to a conclusion that Modi aggressively championing triple talaq has nothing to do with women rights and everything to do with using it as a stick to beat minorities with. It’s a clever scheme to make minorities realise how helpless they are in controlling their own fate as a government, which they already distrust, cleverly imposes its will through promotion of otherwise progressive reform.
Knowing Modi well, she would have seen through this as a scheme to further appease the fundamentalist Hindtuva supporters, who gain sadistic satisfaction in antagonising minorities.
And yet her own tragedy would have made her to root for abolishing triple talaq nonetheless. Thus she would have been left with the dilemma that liberals are confronted with how to support progressive step of abolishing triple talaq without becoming complicit in the communal agenda that underpins BJP’s advocacy. And perhaps like liberals she would have found no comforting solution to the dilemma.
(The views expressed here are the author’s own and jantakareporter.com doesn’t necessarily endorse them)