This started off as a comment on IHM’s blog … but then it become too long to stay a comment.
IHM asked if divorce should be granted if one party wants it irrespective of whose fault it is.
The question actually made me see red. My question is :- Who the hell decides who is at fault? Who the hell has the right to judge the workings of a marriage – i.e. apart from the couple in question. And then … this is India. Personal boundaries are crossed with impunity, inappropriate questions are asked. Heck, we even presume to force young people to get married, just because we don’t like the world populated by single people. It makes us insecure. If young people are able to withstand our bogeyman ‘LOG” there is no telling what they will do next.
In reply to the question :-
1. Marriage ceremonies are just that – ceremonies and the marriage certificate is just a legal roll of toilet paper. It does not tell of the true state of the marriage. A truly happy marriage does not need such social sanctions. I know this may come across as revolutionary but it is the truth.
2. Women are forced to stay married – by their parents. It is mainly because the dowry and the functions were so freakingly expensive. So parents would like the girl to shut up and stay married otherwise all that money has gone down the drain.
3. The social stigma about a separated/divorced daughter. Yeah, again that mysterious LOG who will say things. Dammit, I think the parents should grow up and face the fucking social stigma. They are not the girl staying in an abusive environment. They do not have to live with a hostile family. They do not get beaten/raped/abused/neglected if the marriage sours up. So why do they interfere?
4. The law babying Indian women. Oh really? The law is just some words written in the law book. It is not ground reality. The laws may be there – but they can be twisted, manipulated etc by the people who are in charge. Indian law does (on paper) have many clauses to help the woman. But the implementors belong to this patriarchal society and twist them with impunity.
5. The Indian husband … well no such thing exists. There is the ideal Indian son, ideal Indian brother and the ideal Indian father. I have yet to read any ancient fable or scripture extolling the virtues of an Indian husband. Of course you have many myths and legends about the dutiful Indian wife – Savitri is one that comes to mind right now. So given this background, I do not think we should be surprised that men are actually clueless about their duties as husbands. In every man there is a deep seated guilt about appearing to be a Joru Ka Gulam if he shows more consideration to his wife as opposed to his parents/siblings. If you can recall any story about a husband who sacrificed for his wife or favored her in a family argument, do enlighten me.
6. This is India, where daughters are the lesser human beings. In their parental home, they are the mother’s helpers, baby sitters for their younger siblings and of course … they embody the honor of the men in the family, so they have to be suppressed. In their marital home, they are the home makers, baby producers and again they embody the honor of the men in the family and hence have to be suppressed. So given this ground reality – where are they being babied? And the laws – well no one can make the law work for you, unless you yourself take control and make it work.
These are the grounds for filing for a divorce
# Involvement of the spouse of the petitioner in adultery or indulging in sexual relationships outside his/her marriage…. the onus of proving adultery is on the petitioner.
#Willfully deserting or abandoning the petitioner for a continuous period of two years prior to the filing for divorce in India…. again the complainant has to bring proof.
#Inflicting physical and mental abuses that may cause danger to life and health… here it gets hilarious. You have to prove that you have been denied food, been abused or mentally harassed. It is humiliating to stand in front of strangers and depose. And a standard legal petition for divorce has – as one of its clause – disrespecting the husband’s parents and denying them food.
#Sexually impotent or inability to involve in sexual intercourse. Oh yes I forgot – perverse sexual acts. Can you imagine a woman standing in court and describing such an act?
#Suffering from incurable diseases and insanity … the disease has to be infectious, serious and preferably sexually communicable. My lawyer wanted to put in AIDS Sheesh!!
# Conversion to another religion.
Nowhere is it given that marriage is a partnership and when the partnership is irretrievably broken down – the marriage is null and void. The question of babying women has never been there … and frankly speaking it does not baby the men either. They have conveniently been left out of it.
Yes, by all means bring in the “No Fault Divorce” law. It would be true to the spirit of marriage.