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Tajik Muslims to ban text message divorces

Tajik religious authorities say divorce by text message will soon be banned, as they seek to stamp out the practice in the mainly Muslim Central Asian nation.

State religious affairs committee head Abdurakhim Kholikov said Monday that sending SMSs with the "triple talaq," a Muslim ritual whereby a husband can end a marriage by reciting the term for divorce three times, breaches Islamic law.

Divorce by text message has become common in Tajikistan, particularly among migrant laborers living abroad.

Households in impoverished Tajikistan depend heavily on cash remittances and divorce usually dooms wives to deep penury.

With many marriages in Tajikistan not documented, performing "talaq" is usually a mere formality, although Islamic legal scholars have condemned the practice.