“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.
Photo credit: Annie Urban