By Vaidehi Sachin:
Bombay High Court’s verdict on divorce “not cooking, refusing sex, folding clothes cannot be grounds for divorce”, has given siege of relief for those girls who were undergoing such pressure. The Bombay High Court has held that refusal by a wife to conceive a child because of the family’s financial instability could not be used as a ground for divorce by her husband. Also, not knowing how to cook, not being religious, not parting with salary and not folding clothes properly, not been able to mix with family or not been able to fulfill house hold duties could not be treated as grounds for divorce, ruled Justice P B Majmudar and Justice Anoop Mohta.
The bench was, hearing an appeal filed by a 30-year-old man against a family court’s order which had dismissed his divorce plea. The husband, Ramesh Shenoy, contended that he was subjected to cruelty by his wife, Preeti, as she had refused sex during their honeymoon till he used a condom. He also said that he is being deprived of physical relations since two years by his wife and on other grounds cited of cruelty for divorce which both the family court and the high court did not approve of. The judges held that refusing to conceive a child on the grounds of financial instability and medical ground does not amount to cruelty. If wife has tried giving birth to their child but got into medical illness, no one can force her or divorce her on these grounds.
Nowadays, marriage has become biggest gamble in human life. You never know when and how this relation sours and ends. This very traditional social institution is at dilapidated stage. Couples in urban areas split up more often than you might think. There are many reasons why they split, one is that the couple usually waits far too long to seek help, long after arguments have gotten out of hand and the dyad has drifted in directions that can’t be saved. Unfortunately, couples often arrive for remedy (or an escape route) with some knowledge that the relationship is either hanging by a thread or even that one or both members is seeking a sort of permission to dissolve the connection. In this case a good therapist helps the couple to acknowledge that separation is the best course of action and that it can be done somewhat amicably and respectfully. Some might view this as a controversial take on marital therapy, especially Christian counsellors, but the reality is it’s unethical to try to force a square peg into a round hole. If people are miserable together, the shrink’s position is to help them separate and live happier lives apart.
The couple’s recent division make me to think over why marriages so often don’t work? Depending on where you get your numbers, one in two new marriages ultimately end up in divorce. Statistics are dubious entities and this number can vary wildly depending on source, but even as a simple approximation, a 50 per cent divorce rate is a scary proposition. There is some fluctuation in this number depending on certain demographics, for instance, a lower divorce rate is seen in those who are college-educated, as well as those who wait until they are over age 30 before getting married. If you marry in your teens or early 20’s, your risk of the relationship dissolving goes through the roof. You won’t be the same person in five, ten, or twenty years. Your goals, ideals, perspectives and interests all can change as you evolve. However, as you move along your adulthood as an ever-changing being, your spouse is doing the same thing. Two people who marry at 25 won’t be the same people at 35 or 45, so your compatibility over the lifespan requires that you both evolve in mutually beneficial ways. Couples need to realise that they will both change and have to strive for changes that allow them to remain connected in a viable way.
Coming back to Shenoy’s case, his wife denied being a mother unless there was a financial stability or health issue further. Perhaps, she wanted to give the child a better life. It is a mutual decision and a husband cannot insist. The bench was also of the view that “not folding clothes properly or not being religious and knowing how to cook, not respecting parents, not partying with family” could not be grounds for divorce as these did not amount to cruelty. The appellant’s lawyer said that Shenoy needed a working wife who would live in a joint family and do household work.
Justice Majmudar remarked, “A wife is not a slave. She is considered as ardhangini (man’s better half). Her right of freedom of speech cannot be taken away.” The judge said that if he construed the grounds cited by the appellant as cruelty, then no marriage would be safe by observing that the husband’s family was conservative and was always seeking perfection. It was heartfelt statement when Justice Majmudar said that “Preeti should not have married into this family. The girls are still treated as a burden on the parents. The girl should know as to which family she is getting into.” The parents of both the prospective groom and bride must ensure that the couple is a match for each other.
We might say we are heading towards 21st century, but shame on the whole society, what kind of values we are giving to our future generation? Women are treated like slaves; I fully appreciate the high court judgement.
Where is the equation of equality now? Isn’t it a responsibility of both, the husband and wife to run the family together? If not financially, he could have at least supported her by being by her side! Regardless of judgement, if both don’t like each other, can they live good life? Both should understand each other and adjust for one another and live, if you can’t adjust for spouse, then life is not going to be good for both of you. But, if one would think that being a man, he is superior and its duty of a girl to go through every challenge of daily life, then there is some problem!
Finally someone has got justice in India. For ages, woman was treated like a birth machine to produce children for man. It’s not about getting or not getting divorce. It’s just that nobody can be forced to do something they don’t want to do. I hope her husband and his family realise this. Well done all the judges! The judgement cannot be faulty. To accept the alleged grounds as coming under ‘cruelty’ would have been farfetched. But, it is a sad fact that this marriage is as good as dead, irrespective of the judgement. When the husband and wife confront each other as adversaries in a court, can their marriage survive? Another round of battle can be expected sooner or after for ending the tie from one party or other.