The Indian government issued an executive order criminalizing the Muslim practice of allowing men to divorce their wives instantly after a draft bill failed to pass in August.
In 2017, India’s Constitutional Court ruled as unlawful the divorce practice that allowed Muslim men to divorce their wives after pronouncing “talaq”—the Arabic word for divorce—three times. The law allowed men to send the triple talaq through any medium, including text messages.
Following the court ruling, the government introduced a bill to scrap the practice, but the opposition—which holds majority seats in the upper house of Parliament—defeated the bill. The executive order will now allow victims to report their cases to the police, who will only grant bail to the accused after hearing from the wife.
Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government recorded 201 cases of triple talaq since the 2017 ruling. “In a secular country like India … gender justice was given the complete go-by,” he said.
Muslims make up about 13 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people. The order precedes next year’s general elections as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu BJP party tries to stave off claims it is polarizing voters along religious lines. —O.O
Evan Atar Adaha, a South Sudanese surgeon who carries out about 58 surgeries each week for refugees, received the United Nations Nansen Refugee Award.
The United Nations Refugee Agency said Adaha received the award for his “outstanding commitment and self-sacrifice.”
Adaha’s team operates on refugees in the only hospital in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, which is about the size of Switzerland. The doctor continued with surgeries despite a broken X-ray machine, unreliable generator sets, and a surgical theater with only one light. The Nansen award is usually given to those who offer assistance to displaced people.
“Through his tireless efforts, thousands of lives have been saved, and countless men, women, and children provided with a new chance to rebuild a future,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
South Sudan’s deadly civil war began in 2013 after clashes between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar. “When I realize the work I have done has saved somebody from suffering or saved a life, it makes me happy,” Adaha said. —O.O.