Property for divorced Indian women
Posted by Kalpana
The Union Cabinet‘s new divorce legislation is creating huge waves. The Cabinet cleared legislation allowing women who are divorcing a share in the property their husbands will inherit or have inherited. The men are up in arms and The Men’s Rights Association are protesting with strength and vigour. There’d been a proposal(in May 2013) that women would have equal share in the husband’s property that caused so much anguish amongst the men that it’s been modified and it’s now been left to the judge to decide after taking into account the disposable incomes of both husband and wife and who will take care of the children.
Women who mostly don’t have the resources, time or education to muster such protests are the enemy here, when laws are being passed to make the lot of the divorced women easier. Even this is to be denied them by men who fear all kinds of imaginary events such as women taking away the property of their families. The reality is somewhat different as you can see from Stephanie Nolen’s article called Divorce is on the Rise. Archaic laws leave women by the wayside. If you live in India you don’t even have to read the article to know what it says. A woman who divorces lives in such abysmal conditions that she often returns to the marriage because that’s easier than being divorced. Such are the laws of the land and the ability of men with resources to twist even the best meaning laws to suit their own ends.
Divorce anywhere in the world leaves both people financially poorer but in India, where the patriarchal mindset takes away the woman’s job after marriage, if she was even educated to the extent where she could have one the women’s condition is worse than anywhere else. She’s effectively disempowered by being uneducated, forbidden by her in-law from working and yet treated as a burden because she doesn’t work. Of course child rearing and housework aren’t work!
She has no education or job, no support from the community or family because of the stigma of divorce, no property – because women rarely inherit, no dowry ( yes, dowry isn’t permitted by law and yes, again – it continues) because her husband keeps her gold and assets if she leaves him. This is how it actually is.This is the ground reality. These are the women the legislation is aiming to protect. But who cares about such marginalised members of society such as women? And divorced women at that. ‘Let them go to hell if they want to be marriage breakers’ is the attitude of men protesting this legislation.
Some powerful women have chosen to sniff at alimony itself, saying they would never accept alimony. Well, they’re lucky to be in a position where they don’t have to and where they can afford to be so outspoken. I wish they wouldn’t look at other women’s lives through the prism of their own experience and make rash statements about it. Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research has written about Division of Property after Divorce “Division of property law needs to take into consideration what assets each party brings into the marriage including inheritance and must allow for the fact that women are less likely to receive inheritance than men.”
You’d think it would be simple – give the dispossessed their rights.But no, it’s a suggestion that’s beyond the pale with men saying the new law discriminates against husbands and men painting themselves as the victims. Bizarre.
What do you think? Are men being discriminated against or can they just not bear the equalization?
- Should women be given a share in residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable property? (indianhomemaker.wordpress.com)