Tajikistani men can now divorce their wives via text message, as technology makes its way even into such personal issues as ending a marriage.
If a woman in Tajikistan receives an SMS reading “Taloq, taloq, taloq,” she’s reportedly on her own, since according to Muslim ritual men can dump their wives by repeating this word for “divorce” three times.
The tradition still holds even over the phone, though clerics are divided on whether texting is too impersonal a way to say goodbye.
Marina Dodobayeva, a 33-year-old mother of two, is one such victim of divorce through texting. She opened her phone in October to find that her husband of 14 years had ended their marriage. Dodobayeva’s entire financial, housing and parenting situation thus changed in the time it takes to read an SMS.
Muslim religious authorities disagree on whether new technology has made divorce too impersonal. Those in Tajikistan have issued a fatwa against the practice, but it still continues as many men, like Dodobyeva’s husband, move to Russia as migrant laborers and soon start new families, never to return.
In 2001, Singapore forbid texting the triple taloq, while the UAE allowed it under certain circumstances and a scholar in Qatar decreed divorce by email to be acceptable. Malaysia allows SMS divorcing as well.
Divorce-related iPhone apps are available in the U.S. and U.K., though most focus on managing the legally and emotionally complex affair — none offer an instant termination feature.