Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has abandoned his wife for last 43 years. That is one statistic from amongst the current 2.3 million wives in India who have been abandoned by their husbands. An abandoned wife can neither separate from the husband nor remarry someone else, leading to gross violation of human rights. One can only imagine the severe loss of self-respect and social stigmas faced by them.

Unlike in the case of Triple Talaq within the Muslim community, where the wife might struggle for few months but eventually moves on with life by re-marrying, abandoned wives go through life-long suffering. Majority of the abandoned wives in India are from Hindu community with the numbers reaching as many as 2 million as per 2011 Census.

The Hindu community in India is notorious for abandoning the wives, as it’s extremely difficult for a Hindu man to obtain divorce in Indian Courts. Instead it is always easier to simply abandon the wife.   

Modi had the option of going through a formal divorce within Indian Legal system but he choose to abandon his wife. Even today, his wife Jashodaben Modi continues to live alone and deserted. In an interview to NDTV, Mrs. Modi said “if he calls once, I will go with him”. Such is the desperation of abandoned wives, who even after being deserted for 43 years, hope that one day their husband will take them back and they will have a dignified life.

In recent times, Narendra Modi has projected himself to be the Messiah of Indian Muslim women who have gone through Triple Talaq, a Sunni Hanafi practice where husband can divorce his wife by uttering “Talaq” three times instantly. All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has called for the social boycott of the men who divorce their wives via Triple Talaq. BJP on the other hand has repeatedly called for banning triple talaq.  

Muslim scholars and organisations fear that, if Triple Talaq is banned, the trend of abandoning wives will increase sharply in Muslims too. This will lead to life-long suffering for women, who could have potentially moved on and remarried another man after Triple talaq.  

The only way to solve the problem would be if the Indian Supreme Court takes suo moto action and criminalises abandoning of women. Also, there is a need for Indian Judiciary to create a framework where divorce cases can be settled within less than 6 months. Often Indian men abandon their wives instead of going the legal route of obtaining divorce is because the divorce cases run for multiple years if not decades.  

Amidst all the furore over Triple Talaq, Indians need to recognize that if the Prime Minister can abandon his wife, then so can the citizens. After all the leadership shows the way. Easier divorce norms are perhaps  the call of the hour.

Statistic of Abandoned Wives: