Extra-Judicial Khulʿ Divorce in India’s Muslim Personal Law
journal contributionposted on 01.06.2019 by Sylvia Vatuk
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This essay examines khulʿ divorce as it is interpreted, understood, and practiced in India by Sunni Hanafi Muslims. My research was part of a broadly focused investigation of the impact of India’s Muslim Personal Law upon women’s well-being, begun in 1998 and on-going. I draw upon ethnographic and archival data collected between 1998 and 2001, as well as a recent review of the relevant case law. Widespread stereotypes represent Indian Muslim women as powerless to free themselves from unhappy marriages. However, they do have several legal options. One is to offer the husband a consideration for granting an extra-judicial divorce by khulʿ. This has distinct advantages over filing for divorce in a court of law. But its downside is that the husband must agree to release his wife from the marriage. Many refuse, others drive hard bargains or create other difficul- ties for the wife that are discussed in the essay.