Alimony in divorces is a serious issue these days. Huge alimonies have stripped men of their finances in the West and this trend is slowly catching in India as well with the growing number of divorces. Recent studies in Mumbai showed that 40 % of marriages end in divorce. In Delhi, every day on an average 10 divorce cases are filed. And in majority of these cases men are ordered to pay alimony as they say alimony in divorce is a positive step towards “Women Empowerment” by making them financially independent. But alimony as a provision in divorce is despicable and subject to serious condemnation for many reasons underlined here,
1) Arranged Marriage in India is a communal decision and takes place as a result of the involvement of society elders, common friends and the parents of both the boy and the girl. Hence when the relation fails to work and ends in a divorce, the husband should not be the only one paying.
2) If it is a love marriage then both the adults are equally responsible and the man should not be the only one paying the price.
3) Alimony is the biggest motivator for women to file a divorce and stop making attempts to save the marriage. Also parents of girls, when they see the marriage is not working, encourage their daughters to move towards divorce in lieu of hefty alimony.
4) Due to the overwhelming and impending burden of alimony, married men in India continue to suffer in a bad marriage and refrain from buying a costly piece of paper called, ‘Divorce’ which results in higher stress levels for men and also higher suicide rates among Indian married men.
In line with the feminism that created waves in the 70s in the West, harsh, lopsided and severely anti – male laws were drafted in India in the name of Women Protection. And at the same time alimony was encouraged in the name of Women Empowerment. Today we have six laws quintessentially achieving the same objective of Women Protection and Women Empowerment in tandem.
But the basic ideology where the law makers, the society living with those laws and the media sleeping in deep slumber, not to protest against the loopholes in the laws and their implementation, fluttered is that, Protection and Empowerment can never go hand in hand. We don’t need to protect an empowered lot, hence when alimony was already provided for Women Empowerment, Women Protection was a redundancy. And if that was not the case then alimony as a means to Empower Women has failed miserably and has rather proved as a “Marriage Breaker” as reflected in a recent statement by renowned Supreme Court justice Arijit Pasayath that the Hindu Marriage Act has broken more families than joining them.
The statements seems more than apt. Though Hindu Marriage Act has provisions for saving as well breaking marriage, the one breaking marriage is more famous i.e. divorce. The section for saving marriage, Section 9 – Restitution of Conjugal Rights is a dead letter section of the Hindu Marriage Act which quintessentially trivializes the Indian culture of saving marriage, but sadly enough it is not only a lesser known section, it is non – executable as well, which means the court cannot enforce an order passed in this section.
Due to such reasons divorces are increasing day by day and the institution of marriage is slowly dying out. The government which barely manages to gather oxygen enough to survive in wake of recent turmoil and power tussle at the center has little / no time to look into this matter, impending over the society as a social catastrophe. The society, whose very existence is subject to strict proof with everyone in the society considering everyone else other than oneself as the society, with its paradoxical veil of technological advancement conveniently, chooses to ignore the victims of a bad marriage. The media, whose hunger for sensationalism is self – feeding, considers only the women as humans, raising its voice for women at every sneeze and whiff, is simply catalyzing a gender divide in the society and nothing else.
In view of the all the above contentions and discussions, yet it remains a question, whether Empowerment and Protection can go hand in hand? Let the stalwarts answer this.
Originally posted 2008-08-06 10:36:15.