Property for divorced Indian women

Young Couple in Relationship Conflict

Young Couple in Relationship Conflict (Photo credit:


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?





About Kalpana

Trying to change the world one blog post at a time. I write. It's the best thing I can do. I am the Hanged Man, the Fool, the sometime Magician. Whether I travel in my imagination or in real life I write about it and show you pictures either through my photography or through the pictures I paint with my words. I read books and write fiction. During working hours I teach English as an Additional Language. I edit.

Posted on July 21, 2013, in alimony, Divorce, Dowry, lawyers, oppressive customs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Its disgusting to think that women are treated this way in the modern age. In Australia although the divorce laws are fairer we have domestic violence.Women dont always get the support they need to lezve a violent relationship. Thanks for your article

    • Thanks for visiting Kate. Well India is a patriarchal society and that reflects in the laws. Even if the laws were changed, we’d have quite a time enforcing them. Sexist attitudes run so deep, that many women too espouse them.

  2. Men need to smell the coffee and accept equality… Why should a woman loose it all in divorce when she probably had to bear most of the burden in the marriage especially in India…

    • Hahaha – smell the coffee indeed. Great phrase. They do, they do but Indian society doesn’t condone divorce. If you choose that path, they believe, then you might as well suffer.

  3. That was a thought provoking and educative post, for a non-Indian like myself.

  4. The new bill gives woman share in husbands residential property on divorce over courts judgment which may help poor and illiterate woman.

  5. can the author explain why Indian women are considered weak when it comes to divorce laws and facing society etc whereas the same women today claim that they have entered almost every male dominated profession and are equally capable to men. Today’s Indian women are occupying positions from the country’s president to running of multi national corportions. They want to get out, be independent, and self sufficient. Then why when it comes to divorce laws they are depicted weak? Why are they considered incapable of earning their living? where does the governments skill enhancement programms go in these scenarios for the weaker sections of women?Who needs to change? Our hypocritic society or the laws when it comes to denying renting houses to single divorced womens? and if so why dont u women fight for inheriting your parent’s property? Tell them to stop giving dowries and rather transfer that amount in the name of their daughters which she can use in tough times. Why do we want to hide beneath the protection of such laws because it is an easy way out? Governement should take measures to make weaker sections of women stronger rather than handing over to them strong laws which they can even use to ruin the innocent men’s family. Providing maintenance to women who are not capable of earning is acceptable but inheriting a man’s property is totally unacceptable. what will the man offer to his family in case he decides to move on and start a second family? he would be economically crippled. And we should keep in mind that its the both sides who are responsible for divorce, atleast in urban areas.

  6. This is very insightful.
    I didn’t know this.

  7. subzeroricha

    We can say its a strange world because the laws are never balanced. I know that you might not agree with me but then if this would have been spouse rather than wife then perhaps the debate would have not been there. Cases of men wanting money because they have been sit at dads is there very few but albeit present. So to deal with all cases spouse was a better word.


  8. As an addendum to my previous comment, let me also say that I’ve fought on my blog for women’s rights for years now. Also gay rights and animal rights. I want equality for all, and I believe this is very much possible without having to accept harm to myself. That’s a dealbreaker. I desperately wish to see everyone get a fair deal in life. But not at my expense. That’s not a line I’m willing to cross.

    There are men who are in a financially weaker position compared to their wives. I’m one of those men. And this bill is a slap to my face since it grants one person unequal power over the assets of the other. I may be in the minority, but I matter.

  9. I don’t get it. Why does the law refer to women at all instead of talking about “financially stronger” and “financially weaker” parties. My wife for example earns three times as much as I do. It’s seriously absurd to posit that my property must go to her merely by virtue of me being a man. It’s a different matter that she’s a decent person who wouldn’t do that to me. But why should the law give her that power in the first place?

    We’ve talked about this and we’re signing a post nup as soon as we get back to India. As a citizen who hasn’t done anything wrong, why should I be forced to take these measures to protect myself.

    Now you may say that our situation is a tiny minority. So what? Are we not important? Is it acceptable to trample all over the natural rights of even a few people to put a band aid for “social justice”? As a rational person I would prefer to live in a country that respects me and treats me fairly especially since I’m a decent person who doesn’t break any laws, and who pays his taxes. Why should I choose to live in an India that doesn’t give a damn about my wellbeing?

    In the end this is a philosophical question. I don’t believe that any person should be forced to give up their own interests to benefit others. Perhaps I’m expect to say “Well, this screws me over, but hey! It benefits so many women!”.

    Not gonna happen. For me, I come first. And asking me as a person with rational self interest to support a bill that blatantly discriminates against me is beyond absurd.

    • Thanks for the lengthy comment. Your situation definitely is unusual, but judges take decisions on a case by case basis. They’re not fools. Their wisdom and education usually signs through. It’s a good plan to make a post nup arrangement. I know it seems unfair but there are many more women who earn less than their husbands than men who earn less than their wives. We wouldn’t need a bill at all if men recognised that women have equal rights.

  10. It must be so difficult to deal with a divorce, I mean there are so many layers to it – emotionally, physically, monetarily – my heart goes out to all those who have to suffer. 😦 As for your question, I think I’d vote in favour – that women should get a share of the husband’s property.

  11. AnElephant is perhaps not in a position to judge here, as he is a Scot and a male, but he believes that everyone, regardless of race, religion or gender, is equal and has equal rights.
    You have his support and best wishes.

  12. I left my first husband for another man, partly because I thought I could not make it on my own. I ended up supporting the second husband until he was on disability. I am in the US, where things are different. Even so, it was not easy, and when he died, I did not remarry. It’s much easier to be by yourself.

  13. This is an insightful one, some things which I did not know. I guess, I vote for the women getting their due from the husband’s property.

  14. The lot of the divorced women in India is worse than in other countries. Taking into account the sufferings of such beleaguered women, a new legislation was brought forth. And it’s a right step in right direction.Opposing it in the name of discrimination, the patriarchal society only wants to retain their reins on the divorced women.

  15. I didnt know so many things about a divorce Kalpana..It is scary.. and wonder how difficult it must be for people who had given it their all to the husband’s family.. What could be done? Tell Me.. How could be work against the taboo and help our laws help?

  16. Thanks for stopping by Linda and for sharing your experience. Wives do sometimes have to pay alimony in India too but the majority of women who divorce are in an absolutely horrid situation where they just don’t know which way to turn. Good luck with the alimony. Just one more year 🙂

    • lindahampton

      That’s true for the women here in the US most of the time it’s the men who pay.

      I admire you for putting this out there in the world where most of us are quite naive and don’t think much about how women fair in other countries. Thanks for the reminder for me any all that read your post.

  17. lindahampton

    You provided some education I never knew before. As women and for me as a divorced woman we should be here to support each other. There is stigma of divorce no matter where you are in the world but in the US people are more readily accepting. I want to remind you that in the US the sword cuts both ways. I have another year to pay my ex alimony. Yes it does happen sometimes it’s the woman that pays in the US. But for me the price was worth it.

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