Monotosh Chakraborty| TNN


  • Mampi was thrust into marriage by her parents in 2015
  • The girl’s in-laws ridiculed her desire to study and thrust domestic work on her
  • Some members of the community have hailed the girl’s grit and drawn parallels with Malala Yousafzai

(Representative image)(Representative image)

KOLKATA: As the country debates the need to abolish triple talaq, a 16-year-old girl from rural Bengal has stunned a section of the community by uttering ‘talaq’ thrice to divorce her husband because he opposed her wish to continue studies.

While some members of the community have hailed the girl’s grit and drawn parallels with Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel laureate who had defied the Taliban‘s diktat against women’s education, others have questioned her act, considered a male prerogative.

But Mampi Khatoon has decided to ignore the buzz and the barbs. “I have to get on with life and carve my path just like Malala did. We have to each fight our own battle,” she says with a maturity rare for her age.

Mampi, a resident of Mullickpur Mandirbazar, around 55km from Kolkata along the Lakshikantapur train line, was thrust into marriage by her parents in 2015. With three daughters to marry off and two sons to rear, Sarjul Gharami — a tea stall owner — was glad when he received the proposal from a family in Tekpanja village in Mandirbazar, about 6km away. Though Mampi, then in Class IX, wanted to study further, she was unable to wriggle out. She, however, got her in-laws and husband to agree to her continuing studies.

But Mampi’s in-laws soon reneged on the promise and began objecting to her attending school. They ridiculed her desire to study and thrust domestic work on her. Undeterred, Mampi persisted and passed her Madhyamik exam this year. But when she told her husband she wished to get admitted to Class XI at an HS school, he refused. Her repeated pleas failed to move him and her in-laws. When she visited her parents’ home some days later, she told them she wanted to study and would not return to the husband’s house.

Last month, she got admitted to Krishnachandrapur High School at Mathurapur, around 9 km from her home. Seeing her eagerness to get back to school, headmaster Chandan Kumar Maity waived the admission and tuition fees.

When news of her admission reached her in-laws, the family stormed into her parent’s home and began berating them for daring to send the girl back to school. They asked Mampi to pack her bags to return with them. With Sarjul Gharami and Sahera Bibi standing by their daughter, the situation turned nasty. Mampi could not take it anymore. She walked up to her husband and shouted “talaq” thrice. That silenced everyone. “My in-laws were stunned. They left after that, but my parents stood by me,” said Mampi.

“We made a mistake by marrying her off against her wish. She can stay here and study as long as she wants,” her mother said.

As word of the unusual triple talaq spread, there were murmurs all around. Many expressed shock at the role reversal. “Only a man had the right to give talaq to a woman. A woman pronouncing talaq is not acceptable,” said Maulana Abdul Mannan of Masoompara Masjid.

But some don’t share this view. Haji Kazi Jalaluddin, a former headmaster, said his personal opinion was that both men and women have equal right to seek divorce. “If circumstance warrants, a woman can seek divorce,” he said. 

Mampi’s neighbour Asma Bibi acknowledged that times have changed. “Personally, I think it was very courageous of her to act the way she did,” she said.

Social Activist Miratun Nahar said, “This is an eye-opener to those who want to marry off their daughters at tender age because they still believe that marriage is the final goal for a woman. Under the Sharia law, a woman can seek termination of the marriage contract (khula). But then, the separation doesn’t come by uttering triple talaq at one go. A woman can approach the Shariah Committee seeking divorce on certain grounds — if her husband is impotent, if her husband is handicapped and the like. In this case, the woman has sought divorce for pursuing studies. Even if the girl doesn’t satisfy the grounds laid down in the Sharia laws for seeking divorce, I believe she has reasonable grounds to do so.”