Marital Rape Epidemic in India

Off late there has been a lot of discussion on Marital Rape. Rape is defined as, ‘Any Sexual intercourse without ones consent’. Rape is a deplorable act, within marriage or outside of it. Before we delve deeper into the discussion on rape, lets understand some statistics on it:

2001-2010 Rape Statistics

As we can see in the chart above whopping over 60% of all report rape cases are frivolous and donot stand the test of trial. Even organizations working for the cause of women have realized the gravity and extent of false accusations of rape. They have stated that over 53% cases filed were found to be false and ‘revenge was the motive of filing false cases’.

Presently in India, one false rape accusation from a woman makes the man a criminal, one accusation destroys his career and one accusation drains out his savings on legal recourse for defending himself. The woman gets a public prosecutor (ie. an attorney appointed by the state to fight the case on her behalf). There is no accountability whatsoever for filing a frivolous complaint by the woman primarily because of –

  • Her identity being protected, therefore filing a frivolous complaint has no public backlash. Whereas the accused’s life is destroyed due to her frivolous complaint. No wonder the Indian Courts have stated that the victim of false case should be called a ‘rape case’ survivor
  • As a public prosecutor is provided to the woman, there is no financial drain on her resources
  • There are hardly any consequences for filing a false rape case.

Let us now understand the problems in the current rape laws:

  1. As shown in the data above it has become increasingly easy to level a false complaint for rape.
  2. There are no consequences for filing false complaints.
  3. The falsely accused person stands to lose everything due to the false case
  4. Men who are raped by women cannot file any complaint of rape. Their bodily integrity is not recognised by law

The need of the hour currently is to immediately amend the rape laws to:

  1. Make them ‘Gender Neutral’, like in many other western countries where men can also file rape cases. As per a UK study substantial number of men were victims of rape.
  2. Protecting the identity of the rape accused until the conviction, to protect him from media trials as there is a high probability that the case against him would be false as shown in the data above
  3. Making the identity of the women public post trial, if the case if found to be frivolous, so as to prevent false cases being filed for ulterior motives
  4. Compulsorily trying the woman for ‘malicious prosecution’ and ‘perjury’ for filing false complaint, and ruining the life of the ‘Rape Case Survivor’
  5. Rehabilitation and compensation of ‘Rape Case Survivors’

Now as the foundation is clear, we can proceed to discussion on Marital Rape. The reasons put forward to pass a marital rape law are as under:

  1. There are no Marital Rape Laws in India: This statement is false, as per The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act), section 3, defines ‘Sexual Abuse’ to include any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman. Therefore any woman subjected to sexual abuse such as marital rape can get orders under the DV Act.
  2. Over 60% of Indian Women are subjected to Marital Rape: This is a generally quoted statistic that over 60% of Indian Women are subjected to marital rape. The base of this statistic is on a UNFPA report (Violence Against Women in India, 2004) which bases its comments on a report titled, Population Reports – Ending Violence Against Women, 1999 and this report bases its comments from a report Sexual violence within marriage: a case study of rural Uttar Pradesh, 1997. This study interviewed 115 women from a rural village in Uttar Pradesh. About 76 of these women knew nothing about sexuality during marriage. In most cases the first sexual encounter was characterized by male sexual coercion and female submission. This is being classified as Marital Rape epidemic in India.

Let’s understand the concerns in this report:

  • The sample size is 115 rural women from Uttar Pradesh in 1997. This is not representative of the population of India and also is inappropriate be used after 20 years.
  • The above women had no clue about sex at the time of marriage, therefore their husbands would have persuaded them to consummate the marriage which could have been classified as marital rape. The most logical transaction between the newly wed couple would have been:

“You’ll really enjoy it Mary.”

“Be careful, Patrick. Don’t.” No, you mustn’t.” “Oh. Oh. Not so hard.” “Do it gently. Oh yes, that’s better. Yes, that’s nice. Do it that way.”

  1. Gender Neutral Rape and Marital Rape Laws: The proponents of marital rape law shy away on the request to make the law gender neutral. They know that majority of domestic violence across the world is initiated by women.  Making a gender neutral law would bring out all the atrocities faced by men at the hands of women in a domestic setting. Why are the proponents shying away from making a gender neutral law?
  2. Strict provisions for False Accusations: Again the proponents are shying away from adding strict provisions for false accusation and consequences for filing a frivolous case. We have seen how grossly misused are the other women specific laws including the rape laws. Why do the proponents shy away from protecting the identity of the rape accused until the conviction to protect him from media trials?
  3. Women do not lie about rape: This statement is completely false. As can be seen above majority of the rape cases are found to be frivolous / false. As per women’s organizations over 53% cases filed were found to be false and ‘revenge was the motive of filing false cases’. There have been cases where a 75 year old sick frail old man, who could not even stand straight was booked for raping a young lady in mid-thirties. The slapping the false rape was to merely extract money from the man. Another example of false case can be found here.
  4. Jurisprudence Provisions: No discussion ever takes place on the detailed jurisprudence on marital rape laws, safeguards to be employed to protect the falsely accused and evidence requirements. A law without safeguard mechanisms is a bound to be bane on the society.

As we can see above the whole debate on marital rape is hollow as adequate protection is available for women from marital rape. It is the men who need protection from false cases, domestic violence and marital rape which is being conveniently brushed under the carpet.

 Let us all Stand Up for a Cause…

———————–

Chart data Source: NCRB – Frivolous Cases includes: a) Cases compounded or withdrawn, b) cases declared false on account of mistake of fact or of law, c) cases not investigated or in which investigation was refused, d) cases withdrawn by the govt., and e) cases withdrawn by the govt. during investigation.

All Violence is Male Generated?

Today a comment was made by one of the ministers that all violence is male generated. It is sad to find such comments coming from ministers of India. Let’s try to analyse the statement backed by facts. Violence can be categorized as:

  • Violence within the house (Domestic Violence)
  • Violence outside the house (Crimes)

Domestic Violence: It is a common misnomer that domestic violence is conducted only by men. In the study by Morse, 1995, the researcher came to a conclusion that both men and women are equally likely to assault their partners. In a study conducted by Whitaker DJ, Haileyesus T, Swahn M, Saltzman LS. in 2007, found that in almost 24% of relationship there was some sort of violence with about 49.7% of violence activities to be reciprocal. In non-reciprocal violence women were the perpetrators in over 70% of the cases.

Women are more likely to use weapons during domestic violence as per an international study by Brown GA, 2004. As per the study 28.4% of the women were charged by assaulting with a knife, 11% with a blunt instrument and 7.7% with some other weapon.

A gist of some other international domestic violence surveys/studies is given below –

Male-to-Female (%)

Female-to-Male(%)
Bland & Orn (1986)(a)

14.6%

22.6%

Brinkerhoff & Lupri (1988)(b)

24.6%

27.5%

DeKeseredy & Schwartz (1998)(ade)

35%

46.1%

Grandin & Lupri (1997)(b)

18.3%

25.3%

Straus & Gelles (1986)(b)
Men’s Reports

12.2%

10.5%

Women’s Reports

12.1%

11.9%

Magdol et al. (1997)(bd)
Men’s Reports

22.8%

34.1%

Women’s Reports

27.1%

37.2%

a: prevalence rates (violence experienced ever in the past)
b: one-year prevalence rates
c: violence experienced from a current partner
d: young adult sample
e: women’s reports only

(Source: Gender Differences in Patterns of Relationship Violence In Alberta, 1999- By Kwong M, Bartholomew K and Dutton D)

Majority of all domestic violence studies conducted in India are primarily targeting male to female domestic violence. Reciprocal violence and female to male violence does not seem to be researched. For example in the research article Violence against Women in India: Evidence from Rural Gujarat, 1999, 346 women were contacted for the survey. Please note that in the sample not a single male respondent is there. Further, the questions asked donot seem to probe the female to male domestic violence (women initiated domestic violence). In another study titled, Domestic violence against women in eastern India: a population-based study on prevalence and related issues, both men and women were part of the sample. In this study, both men and women were administered different questionnaires. For women the questionnaires focused on victimization where they were asked whether their husbands or family members committed violence against them. Men were administered questionnaires on perpetration where they were asked if they had committed violent acts against their wife. The copy of the questionnaire can be found here.

The important points to note in these surveys are –

  • In many studies only women are the respondent and the questions administered are primarily of victimization
  • In other studies where both men and women are respondents questions administered are victimization for women and perpetration for men.

In domestic violence studies conducted, men are never asked if they ever suffered domestic violence at the hands of their wives and women are never asked if they were ever perpetrators of domestic violence against their husbands. The construct of these studies were primarily based on a biased notion that women are victims of domestic violence and men the perpetrators. At the onset of the study, bias has been introduced by the researcher either by way of choosing the sample or by way of administering different sets of questions to different genders. Therefore, the results obtained by these studies cannot be said to be free from bias.

Anant Kumar, has written an interesting article on Domestic Violence against Men in India: A Perspective, which discusses in detail domestic violence against men in India.

Crimes: Let’s see if there has been any structural change in the society over the past 10 years. We have used the NCRB Crime data from 2001 – 2010 for arrests made for serious crimes such as murder, dacoity, burglary, arson, kidnapping, thefts etc… The data for increase in arrests by police over the 10 year period is given below, which is startling:

 

Crime

Increase in arrest from 2001-2010

Women

Male

Murder

10.6%

-18.4%

Attempt to commit Murder

46.4%

-17.2%

Dacoity

110.3%

-29.9%

Burglary

40.6%

1.5%

Arson

7.1%

-22.9%

Explosives & Explosive Substances Act

4.2%

-19.6%

Auto Theft

53.0%

80.7%

Other Thefts

45.5%

4.4%

Total Theft

45.7%

18.9%

Robbery

135.2%

18.5%

Kidnapping & Abduction – Women & Girls

66.3%

94.1%

Kidnapping & Abduction

56.0%

46.9%

Other Indian Penal Code crimes

25.8%

16.1%

Gambling Act

39.7%

13.3%

Essential Commodities Act

226.8%

82.8%

Cheating

159.0%

79.0%

Criminal Breach of Trust

62.1%

29.7%

 

Violence does not have a “Gender”, the belief that men are the source of all violence is wrong at many levels. Let us all Stand Up for a Cause…

Vaastav Foundation – The Crisis Angels of My Life (Part 2)

This is Part 2 to the Vaastav Foundation – The Crisis Angels of My Life.  This article is written for Who’s your Crisis Angel? An Indi-Change activity  with http://incrisisrelief.org/ in association with Indiblogger.in

You may call Vaastav Foundation Helpline numbers listed below 24×7 in case of distress:

Vaastav SIF One Helpline Number: +91- 8882 498 498

Vaastav SIF One Helpline Number: +91- 8882 498 498

Vaastav Foundation – The Crisis Angels of My Life

Vaastav Angel saving souls

Vaastav Angel saving souls

Vaastav Foundation, is an NGO based out of Mumbai working towards equal human rights for both the genders. The organization assists families in distress and crisis who suffer from toxic domestic relationships. They assist people who have suffered false dowry and domestic violence cases.

The organization is a part of a network of over 40 NGOs all over India which conducts weekly meetings in over 20 cities. In these meeting they try to create a positive space for men where they can be heard without being judged. Meetings for Vaastav Foundation regularly conducts meetings at Veer Saavarkar Udyan, Borivali-W from 11 am to 2 pm and at Chintamani Deshmukh Garden, Mulund-E between 5pm to 7 pm every Sunday to help men in distress. Any one can attend these meetings and can also call the All India Help Line Numbers.

After visiting the Vaastav meetings I leant about the suicide stats of men which is that every 8 minutes a married man commits suicide in India and about the rampant misuse of Sec 498A of IPC, where more than 90% of the cases are found to be frivolous.

Suicides by Married Men and Women

As can be seen above about 2 times more married men commit suicide as compared to married women which shows the social pressure that they are facing.

498A Incidents

A Survivor

A Survivor

498A is the provision under IPC which deals with husband and his family subjecting wife to cruelty for dowry. It is a cognizable, non-bailable and a non-compoundable offense. Vaastav Foundation gets cases where the entire family of the husband such as his mother, sisters, bhabhis, other female relatives, ailing parents are booked under this section and are arrested. Even people who came to help the victim were booked. There have been cases where a dog’s name has been put in the complaint and even a 2 month old baby got an anticipatory bail under this section. In the past the Supreme Court had raised concerns on the misuse of this section and had told the government to amend it.

Vaastav is being currently being funded primarily out of the personal sources of the affected persons.

The Vasstav’s selfless Angels and Counselors give their time and provide guidance to the victims and their families.

The Vaastav Angels

The Vaastav Angels

Vaastav SIF One Helpline Number: +91- 8882 498 498

Vaastav SIF One Helpline Number: +91- 8882 498 498

Vaastav Foundation really is a Crisis Angel for many families, do read how hundreds of families below have benefited from Vaastav and misuse of gender biased laws.

form1 form2 form3 form4 form5 form6 form7 form8 form9 form10 form11 form12 form13 form14 form15 form16 form17 form18 form19 form20 form21 form22 form22a form23 form23a

This article is written for Who’s your Crisis Angel? An Indi-Change activity  with http://incrisisrelief.org/ in association with Indiblogger.in

Can Domestic Violence be filed against Daughter-in-law?

As per a HelpAge India report, daughter-in-law emerged as the major abuser of the elderly. Now abuse of a daughter-in-law is protected under various special laws of the country, whereas no such law is for the elderly. An interesting question arises, can an abused elderly mother-in-law take protection of any law against abuse by her daughter-in-law?

We will analyse this question in this article.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (“Domestic Violence Act”) was enacted by the parliament in 2005 to provide for an effective protection of women who are victims of violence of any kind within the four walls of the house. Therefore the intention of the act was to safeguard women from domestic violence.

The domestic violence can be invoked only if persons are living in a Domestic Relationship which is defined u/s 2(f) as:

“domestic relationship” means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.

Therefore, based on the above definition all family members living together as a joint family are considered to be in a domestic relationship.

The person who is facing domestic violence and can take shelter under the act is defined under section 2(a) as:

“aggrieved person” means any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent;

Therefore, any women in a domestic relationship and subjected to domestic violence can take shelter under the act. The person who are perpetrators of violence against whom she can proceed is defined under section 2(q) as:

“respondent” means any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act. Provided that an aggrieved wife or female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage may also file a complaint against a relative of the husband or the male partner.

This definition is in two parts, the first part defines the respondent as male members and the proviso also allows the women to proceed against any female relative of the husband or the male partner.

Ingredients:

There are three ingredients for taking recourse under the act:

  1. Recourse is available to women
  2. Who are in a domestic relationship
  3. Against a respondent

Pertinent Question:

Now we come to the pertinent question, can a mother-in-law take shelter under this act against domestic violence conducted by her daughter-in-law? The answer is ‘Yes’. Do refer to the above ingredients to take shelter under this act.

  1. Any woman can be an aggrieved person, the only qualification is that she ought to be in a domestic relationship.
  2. A domestic relationship is not only a relationship of husband and wife but also includes persons living in a joint family.
  3. The protection is available against a respondent, which includes any female relative of her husband or male partner.

Hence, based on the above, protection under Domestic Violence Act can be taken by an elderly mother-in-law against her abusive daughter-in-law.

The Delhi High Court in the case of Kusum Lata Sharma vs State & Anr, had allowed a mother-in-law to proceed against the daughter-in-law as a respondent under the Domestic Violence Act.

Percentage Increase in Arrests for Serious Crimes – Men & Women

Below is the chart showing percentage increase of arrests for serious crimes for men and women from 2001 – 2010.

Percentage increase in arrests————–

Source: NCRB Software for analysis ‘Crime Info’. The detailed article link is The Fairer Criminals

IrBM Arguments in the Media (SIF Magazine Article)

Recently on the 10th SIF Anniversary the inaugural edition of the magazine was released. The pdf link to the magazine is here. My IrBm Arguments in the media article series were published in the magazine in a consolidated way. The published article with detailed sources is given below:

Recently there has been a spate of discussions in the media on the upcoming Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage Law (IrBM). Some important highlights of the proposed bill are –

  1. Divorce can now be filed as a ‘No-fault Divorce’ stating that marriage has broken down irretrievably.
  2. Husbands do not have the right to oppose the divorce petition filed by their wives, whereas the wives can oppose the divorce petition filed by the husbands. Hence, the irretrievable break down of marriage can only be claimed by a wife and not the husband as husband’s petition can be challenged by the wife.
  3. All the property of the husband that he currently owns and his ancestral property (inherited or inheritable) will be divided between the husband and the wife.

Some arguments that have been promulgated for supporting this bill during media debates are –

1)      Poverty is a gender issue and primarily in India women are poor: This is a baseless argument as the data shows just the opposite. Two most important features of poverty are malnutrition and substandard healthcare due to which the life expectancy reduces and deaths due to diseases increase respectively.

a)      Average Life Expectancy of women in India is higher than males at 65 as opposed to males at 62. This implies that women live longer and healthier, hence have lower malnutrition[i].

b)      Health care facilities are better for women than compared to males. WHO data shows that deaths due to diseases for males is 880 as compared to women as 780 (per 100,000). Hence, women have better access to healthcare as compared to the male counterparts[ii].

Therefore based on the above facts it is the men who live a substandard life as compared to women.

2)      Women donot own any assets and post a divorce are on the streets to fend for themselves: The argument seems to state that women donot own any assets and hence should get an equal share in an asset which the husband has created. This share is to ensure the safety of women.

Let us analyse this statement in-depth based on the assets majorly owned by Men and Women in India.

Men

Women

  1. Own a House
  1. Own Jewellery (Also classified as Stree Dhan)
  2. Also own a House

a)      Jewellery: The jewellery in India can typically be classified as

i)        Gold Jewellery: India is the largest consumer of gold for jewellery purposes and it is estimated consumed roughly 745.7 metric tonnes of gold in 2010 for jewellery manufacturing[iii]. (ie. Approximately 7,45,700 kgs of gold). This amounts to approximately Rs. 2.23 lakh crores (ie. ~US$ 37.3 bn)[iv]

ii)      Diamond Jewellery: As per a Bain & Co. report, India consumes approximately US$ 8.5 bn of Diamond Jewellery annually[v].

iii)    Silver Jewellery: It is estimated that India consumes approximately 3,700 metric tonnes of silver annually for ornamental items such as jewellery, utensils and gift items[vi].  (ie. Approximately 37,00,000 kgs of gold). This amount to approximately 16.6 thousand crores (ie. ~US$ 2.8 bn)[vii]

Therefore, gold, silver and diamond consumption in India for ornamental purposes totals to US$ 48.6 bn on an annual basis.

b)      Houses: The real estate sector which consists of residential, commercial, retail, hospitality and SEZs was about US$ 50.7 bn for FY 2011[viii]. Of the total real estate sector, women do hold a decent share of housing stock. This data can be estimated from the housing loans given to women as a percentage of total housing loans. As per an RTI[ix] by Vaastav Foundation on Union Bank of India, on an average 19.6% of the women were given housing loans as a percentage of total loans disbursed. As houses are typically purchased by way of housing loans, it can be said that approximately 19.6% of the houses are held by women.

Therefore of the total real estate sector of US$ 50.7 bn about US$ 9.9 bn is consumed by women and US$ 40.8 bn by men.

The Summary of the yearly consumption of assets between men and women for India is given below:

Particulars

Men

(US$ Bn)

Women

(US$ Bn)

Real Estate

40.8

9.9

Gold

37.3

Diamonds

8.5

Silver

2.8

Total

40.8

58.5

As can be seen in the above table, on a yearly basis, women acquire approximately US$ 58.5 bn of assets as compared to approximately US$ 40.8 bn of assets by men. Therefore, the idea that women donot hold ‘any’ assets does not seem to be backed by data, instead the data shows that substantial assets are held by women of India.

3)      Stigma of Single women- they cannot rent a house in Cities: How does unable to rent a house have anything to do with property rights and divorce laws. If housing societies donot allow single women to buy / rent flats then an amendment in Co-operative Housing Society Act is required and not the passing of IrBM. These two points and issues are completely unrelated.

4)      Household Work: During the debates the household work done by women is treated as equal contribution in building matrimonial property. The work of the husband is completely sidelined or treated as something which he ought to do as his duty. Without going into the value of work, let’s analyze the number of hours put in by both men and women. As per the NSO[x] survey, women spend about 2.1 hours cooking food and about 1.1 hours cleaning the house and utensils daily. In essence, women put in a total of 3.3 hours a day in building matrimonial assets. Compare this to the hours put in by a man which is around 11 hours a day (10 hours of work and 1 hour of travel time). Therefore men essentially put in 3.33 times more effort and work in building matrimonial assets. Even if we include managing children as a chore, which it is not otherwise during separation the women would be giving the child’s custody to the father, the total time spent by women in household work increases to 6.46 hours. Even taking into account this stretched number, men put in 1.75 times more effort in building matrimonial assets.

Do note that in the whole calculation above we have not included the value of work done by men or women. Do take a guess as to who generates more value per hour in their work. Further, many women also outsource their household work to maid servants, salary of whom is paid by the husband. In essence, the husband has to work harder so that the household work may be outsourced by his wife on his expense. Still the women’s group demand equal property division of not only matrimonial but also ancestral property of the husband.

5)      Price of Love and Price of Care that women invest in a relationship should be paid: This point has come in various debates and in various forms. Treating marriage like an economic relationship is completely incorrect. Even if we assume that the feminists are treating marriage as an economic relationship, then the wife’s due was paid by her husband during the marriage by way of providing love and care to his wife. The husband also provided for necessities like food, clothing, shelter, vacations etc… Post-divorce, there is no love / care given by  the wife hence, no payment is required by the man. Any payment to wife post marriage is an ‘unjust enrichment’ to the wife.

6)      It is important for the woman to have a home as 80% of women keep children: Some important questions, brought up in this point is that:

a)      No source has been quoted of this 80% number.

b)      Why is it only important for the woman to have a home? Why is it not important for a man to have a home? Are men disposable or are they second citizens?

c)      Why can’t the women work are create their own home? Are they not able bodied?

Baseless reasoning such as these promotes parasitism, which is not healthy for any living organism or society.

7)      For the past 5000 years, women were treated as second class citizens and hence taking into account the development, their literacy rates etc… in the past 15 years is incorrect: We should all note that laws are passed keeping in mind the situation as on date not 5000 years back. As on date women are empowered, and their status 5000 years back (which we donot know is true) has no bearing to the present situation. Therefore this argument does not hold water.

8)      Parents donot give any property to their daughter: If parents donot give a share of their property to their daughters then a law should be passed to enforce women’s share at their maternal homes. Why pass IrBM for that. If is akin to saying that if company ‘A’ does not pay salary to their employees then company ‘B’ is liable to pay it. This is an illogical and unfair argument in support of this bill.

9)      Rights of Women: Another argument is on a rights approach wherein the school of thought supporting IrBM state women demand their right and they ought to get the same. A point of view here is that as per heirship and succession laws of India, women need to get an equal share of the property from their parents (ie. their right) . Inability to apply these laws is often cited as the reason to bring in IrBM. How can non applicability of one set of laws be a reason for passing an unjust act? Why can IrBM not be gender neutral wherein the property of both husband and wife is pooled together and then divided based on the effort put in by both. Will this method not be Just and Equitable. Currently as IrBM stands a section of society is being unjustly enriched in the name of rights and false gender equality.

10)  Women give birth to babies therefore they should get the property: Every female mammal on this earth gives birth to a baby, which is how nature has made them. Asking for property rights because women give birth to babies is preposterous. Such arguments should not even be entertained by the debate show hosts.

11)  In the past women were treated like chattels (property): In the past laws were not well developed as they are today. There were no human rights or any such thing. We had crude laws and property laws were the only laws that were more or less enforceable. Hence, women might have been treated like chattels to protect them in the society. Further, men were not even treated like chattel. In case of any contingency they were supposed to lay down their lives to protect their property ie. Men were SECOND to chattel. Feminists have not been able to provide any evidence to support any claim that in stable societies women were treated badly. Further, again we are discussing things of the past, today we have well established human rights and personal laws and no person is treated as chattel. Laws are to be made taking into account today’s situations and not the situation which existed 5000 years back.

12)  India is a male dominated society: This argument is has many different version such as patriarchy, no representation and oppression. How do we define domination? One method of defining domination is by looking at the political representation of the group. A group with a higher political representation controls the law making and is the dominant group in a democracy. This is because the elected representatives need to do as directed by electorate. As per the Election Commission of India, the voters of India were  –

Year Men (% votes) Women (% votes) Source
1999 40.01% 59.99%  [xi]
2004 41.93% 58.07%  [xii]
2009 45.8% 54.2%  [xiii]

The dominant group from the above data is clearly the women of India, as they are nearly 60% of the voters, and not the men, therefore stating that India is a male dominated society is incorrect, as the data speaks otherwise.

The bill is unfair, unjust, and gender biased because of –

  • Only women have been given a right to oppose a divorce. Men cannot oppose divorce petition filed by women. This clause seems to clearly discriminate against men.
  • Only property (ancestral or owned) of men is to be divided. Property of women is not to be considered.
  •  In case of a no-fault divorce, other cases such as domestic violence and 498A can continue. If it is no-fault divorce then how can other cases which have a fault continue?
  •  Men are still liable to pay maintenance and alimony to women under other sections of various acts.
  •  The bill seems to be against gender equality promised by the Indian Constitution under article 15.
  •  Liabilities of men are not considered in case of division of property. Assume a house was bought on a bank loan, and in case of divorce, 50% of the house will be given to the woman but the man is still liable to pay the entire loan amount. This tantamount to taking away the future assets of the husband.

In other developed countries laws are gender neutral and have the word ‘Spouse’ in their language and not ‘Wife’ as the case in India. In developed nations each spouse shall be responsible for his or her own support. This has been kept to deter parasitism in their culture.

For example in Sweden maintenance is given when a spouse has difficulty in supporting himself or herself for a transitional period following the divorce. Such transitional maintenance provides the needy spouse with opportunities to seek gainful employment or retraining. Section 7 of Chapter 6 (Maintenance) of the Swedish Marriage Code (Aktenskapsbalken) is: “Following a divorce, each spouse shall be responsible for his or her own support. If a contribution towards the maintenance of either spouse is needed for a transitional period, that spouse shall be entitled to receive maintenance payments from the other spouse on the basis of what is reasonable in view of the latter’s ability and other circumstances.”.  Further, Sweden has a concept of personal property and marital property. Property jointly acquired by the spouses is treated as marital property. An exception is there, if only one spouse acquires property, then his/her personal property may be treated as marital property.

Further, post the division of marital property, the maintenance and alimony is reduced. (ie. the clauses are not mutually exclusive)[xiv].

For example in Germany: A spouse must provide for their own maintenance after divorce (Sections 1569, 1577 BGB). Maintenance may only be granted for an intermittent period till the other spouse retrains so as to be employable. Further, the networth of the spouses at the time of marriage and after the marriage is calculated. The difference is treated as marital property and property of both spouses is equally divided. An exception is there that if a spouse does not contribute in promoting the economic gain in marital property, he/she is not eligible for anything. Further, adultery and cruelty is given weightage.

In essence, both the developed nations treat the property of husband and wife separately and only joint contributed property as marital property. This comes from the tenet that all able bodied persons should be liable for their own upkeep[xv].


[iv] At Gold Price of Rs. 30,000 /10 gms and an exchange rate of 1 US$=Rs.60

[vi] India’s Consuming Interest in Silver by Rajan Venkatesh, http://www.lbma.org.uk/assets/alch28_india.pdf

[vii] Silver prices of Rs. 45,000 /1 kg and an exchange rate of 1US$ = Rs. 60

[viii] IBEF- Real Estate, August 2013, page 6 and 36, http://www.ibef.org/download/real-estate-august-2013.pdf (adjusted for exchange rate of 1 US$ = Rs. 60)

[x] National Statistical Organization: Men and Women in India, 2012 – 14th Issue, Para 33

Enhanced by Zemanta
%d bloggers like this: