India is moving to outlaw the practice of ‘triple talaq’, which allows men to divorce their wives by saying “talaq” three times.
Al Jazeera reports the practice is used in some Muslim communities and has been banned in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey and Iran.
The top court in India had suspended the practice in August, but some men persisted in the practice.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill 2017 was introduced by the Narendra Modi government to the lower house on Thursday.
Under the proposed bill, men found guilty of using triple talaq could face three years in jail.
Legislative action is the result of decades of campaigning by women’s rights group in India, who say the practice is cruel and sexist.
Several Indian opposition parties refused to support the bill, with many abstaining from Thursday’s vote.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is strongly opposed to the bill, saying it impedes religious freedom and could cause injustice to Muslim women by forcing them to remain in unhappy marriages.
Meanwhile, the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement is calling the bill a step forward for the government and women’s rights.
“In most other Indian communities, the Hindus and the Christians, women have protection of law in the matters of marriage and family,” the group’s founder Zakia Soman told Al Jazeera.
“It is only the Muslim women who have been denied legal justice so far.”
The draft bill will now move through to the upper house where changes may need to be made for it to gain enough support to pass.