“Talaq, Talaq, Talaq”: Divorce by Text

Among Sunni Muslims, a husband can end a marriage with the “triple talaq.” By saying “talaq”, a form of repudiation, three times a divorce becomes final and irrevocable. Usually, there is supposed to be time between the three talaqs for the husband to carefully consider his decision and consult with others around him. There are, however, those who take the “ripping off the band-aid” approach and say the three talaqs one after another in rapid succession, a practice which is highly controversial among Muslims.

In Tajikstan, a very poor former Soviet country, millions of wives are often left behind while their husbands go off to Russia in search of work. The New Internationalist reports that almost half of Tajikstan’s GDP comes from the millions of men who have left in search of jobs. But not all of those migrant workers maintain ties to home indefinitely. Divorce rates have skyrocketed, leaving many Tajik women abandoned by their husbands, shunned by their communities, and denied child support and property rights.

Many of these men didn’t even bother traveling home to break off their marriage. Instead, they took advantage of technology to avoid a difficult conversation, sending a simple SMS saying “talaq, talaq, talaq”. In fact, there were so many men divorcing their wives by text message that the government made it illegal and is considering imposing jail terms.

In the meantime, the abandoned women in Tajikstan are banding together. Working with Oxfam, the women are founding collectives where they live together, farm together, and support each other. They are creating a future for themselves and for their children, without the men who abandoned them at the click of a “send” button.

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Photo credit: Annie Urban

91 comments

New G.
W. C.4 years ago

Thank you.

Nicole B.
Nicole Bergeron4 years ago

Shame on the men and at least the women aren't taking this laying down, but stepping up and supporting one another through tough times

Renee Rekceb
Renee Rekceb4 years ago

@ Donna J ... I don't know what version of the Koran you read or missed, but it is still the practice of many Muslim males, even in the civilized world, to divorce the women. And nowhere have I read in the Arabic script of the Koran that women have the right to divorce their husband, and definitely not with 3 talaqs

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran4 years ago

Thanks.

Donna J.
Donna J.4 years ago

From what I read in the Koran, women can declare divorce that way too. It becomes unfair if they exist in a country that doesn't allow them to read or study the Koran, which wasn't meant to be restricted from them. It's the first holy book ever that declared women equal to men (women are separate but equal), as the Bible or Torah never did. I was actually quite impressed as the Koran provided many guidelines that outlined women's rights to inheritence, property and custody of the kids within a marriage and in the event of a divorce. It's not as effed up as many people think.

I also believe that this particular rule wasn't meant to be taken literally, by merely uttering "I divorce thee" three times in a row and it's done. The point of the three-times rule was to make declaring divorce more difficult because in the heat of the moment it's easy to say one wants a divorce, so you can't just get one because you feel like it at that time. One's supposed to REALLY contemplate it rather than acting upon the first impulse.

I'm not a Muslim apologist, I'm a Catholic who's interested in what people believe in. I'm just saying this to highlight the fact that Islam is not a bad religion. I just feel bad that many theocratic countries who rule with barbarism and fanatism misinterpret and twist the equality-based philosophy of the Koran to maintain dominance over women and give a false sense of power to men with restricted educations.

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Annmari L.

Of course they didn't read it. They just saw it as an opportunity to do a bit of Muslim bashing.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin4 years ago

Did anyone read the complete article? The Tadjik government have banned the practice of SMS divorces and the abandoned women have joined together in an effort to support themselves independantly of men. That are two great news for women of that country and elsewhere islam rules!
Thanks for the information, Annie Urban!

surjit k.
surjit k.4 years ago

let muslims do their things the way they have been doing for centuries. No way they are going to stop it. So let them be.....

Beth M.
Beth McHenry4 years ago

Another confused religion.

John Duqesa
Past Member 4 years ago

Or if she's in a Muslim country which has the facility enshrined in law, she can go to the civil court.