This is the darkest day in my life because today our Rajya Sabha has passed yet another gender biased legislation that will ruin our lives in future. Probably many men in our country will agree with me that this day is the darkest one in their lives too. This is the day when the Marriage Law Amendment Bill, 2010 is passed by the country’s apex lawmaking body.
Even though many members of parliament have voiced their opinion about making the law gender-neutral but the need for women empowerment have nullified these arguments today. The plight of rural women is shown as the plight of Indian women on average. However, one fails to understand why even after bringing in so many legislations in the last few decades, Indian women are never empowered. Why every promise of bringing in gender equality in the society only creates more misfortune for women than bringing injustice for them and where is the end to it?
In the last few days of RS proceedings, we have seen that many MPs have raised the concern of receiving SMSs sent by men to seek a gender-neutral marriage amendment law. Most of them have voiced their opinion against getting such unsolicited messages and wanted to block those senders somehow. This sends a message to a common man like me that once we choose someone for the parliament, they don’t want us to raise any more grievances with them. Citizen connects programs are only for party workers or the privileged ones who can take an appointment and meet their MPs and NOT for the people who fail to meet their MP for various reasons.
The last few days’ proceedings in the parliament have made it very clear to the analysts like me, that a bill like IrBM can easily be passed. Reason, vote bank politics. Even though some of the members have voiced their opinion against this popular vote bank politics in the house itself but they were numbered. And the politics continued.
On the face of it, is the concept of irretrievable Breakdown bad? Not really, especially for the marriages where the couples are living apart for a long time and can not move for mutual consent divorce for some reason. Some critics say this will increase the divorce rate in the country. But what is the point in officially remaining as husband and wife when there is no relation? So the bill is gender-neutral in this aspect that either the man or the wife can bring in a petition for divorce under this provision. But what makes this controversial and most painful for the men in the society including me is the provision for the sole opposing right to the wife and only husband’s property being divided. Because the wife can oppose any divorce petition filed by the husband on the ground of financial hardship. Courts to decide the hardship for women.
In reply to a question on making the bill gender-neutral honourable minister clarified that in terms of property division it is not gender-neutral. He gave a funny reason to clarify this point. He said ‘50% population of the world (women) own only 2% of the global property, and the rest 98% property is owned by the 50% population who are men. Hence, to balance that equation in a patriarchal society like India, we need to send a message to the society that we want to empower our women and give them rights in their husband’s property and not vice versa’.
From the above reasoning given by our honourable law minister one fails to understand why women are not encouraged to make their own property through hard work, dedication and maybe through inheritance. Women’s right to inherited property is already established long back and there is no hindrance to them on working hard and earning to make a property of their own. Ironically, this is not promoted. It is never said that women should strive for excellence in all fields to take our country forward (as stated by our constitution in Fundamental Duties of citizens, Article 51A (J)), but it was said that she will be entitled to the property earned by her husband during the matrimonial period. So what happens when the husband buys a property in the name of wife? In a reply, he said that court will decide that, but I fail to understand that when in the law there is no provision of the division of wife’s property, how any court will decide to divide the same?
Our minister further added that in HMA 25 a husband is allowed for alimony and hence if the wife is rich, a court will grant husband the alimony (still only his property share goes to her). What he failed to explain but people like me wonder, is the amount of alimony and 50% share of the property is never the same. Also when the husband is qualified and high earning person, why should he be liable for greater penalty and part of his property simply because he had a failed marriage? Is being qualified and high earning an individual crime in India? Or is getting married has become a crime for men, especially rich men?
Another dangerous point by not making the wife’s property divisible under this law is the wife will no longer bother about saving the marriage. She is given a free permit to do anything and get away with it. In worst-case scenario she still gets some share of husband’s property but even the most adulterous, cruel and criminal woman gets benefitted by every marriage and never pays for her conduct.
Many honourable members of parliament have said that no woman files for divorce just like that. There is (are) always a genuine reason(s) for them to do so because it is always considered bad to be divorced for a woman. Is it true even in the 21st century? A time when women openly flaunt their private parts in public in the name of empowerment? When abortion is sought as a right but female feticide is made a huge issue everywhere? When smooching or other private lovemaking acts are done in public and still termed as privacy? Similar statements are often given for rape allegations too. People say no woman can file a complaint of rape just like that because it is considered shameful for her to do so….and the reality is 75% rape cases in India turns out to be false and motivated by a personal vendetta.
The statement that a woman becomes a victim of every divorce, also says that a man is always liable for any divorce. This kind of statement by our parliamentarians confirms that they consider a man to be guilty of every divorce. Now the men in the country will have to decide if this is true because as an educated person, I never consider this to be true. Many innocent men who just suffered abuses in a bad marriage will only suffer more and as a result male (husband) suicide rate will increase. This kind of statements made in the parliament only confirms the inherent misandry in our parliamentarians who consider all men to be guilty, and even without committing any crime all men in India has become accused today.
Two judgments of the apex court and one report of law commission were cited as the reason for bringing in this law. However, some honourable members of parliament did bring up the point that all these have stated the need of irretrievable breakdown as a ground of divorce but the law commission report clearly stated to take care of interests of ‘parties’ in a marriage that include the ‘husband’. But the vote bank politics have prohibited the members from taking any step towards making this law gender law neutral.
Many of our women parliamentarians have pointed to the percentage of women in the elected house and said while in our society we treat women unequal, there is no question of even thinking of gender-neutral legislation. A question comes to my mind, in a country where only 27% of women are educated until secondary education, will it be wise to allocate 50% of seats in parliament for them. Even after so many years of independence, we could not achieve more education for women and the reason is explained here. Many feminist studies have also confirmed this. But we have never looked at these issues at a national level. It is only through a private initiative we innovate and invest in such projects where women are empowered.
So is it the fault of common men in India that there is not 50% representation from women in parliament? Common men or the men’s rights groups never objected to an idea like that. (or even if they have objected would the political parties listen?). So if there is no 50% representation by women in parliament does that mean that we treat our women badly and hence all innocent husbands need to be punished.
Today, there is no incentive for a common man to marry. No matter how much a man earns in his life through hard work, dedication, educational qualification etc. he will always be a loser. No matter how much abuse the husband goes through, he will always have to part with his property. So far we have seen judgments asking the husband to maintain the wife’s illicit child. Now we will see judgments asking the husband to give away his property to these children as well.
I am too small a person to protest against this kind of misandry or hatred against me. When this hatred comes from the topmost lawmaking body of the country it makes me wonder that educated hard-working individuals like me are not required in this country. So any educated, hard-working, law-abiding and peace-loving person like me who wanted to bring in innovation in different ways in life, should not strive for excellence in either personal or community life. This is because it is no longer needed in the society as showed by our esteemed politicians today. Article 51 A(J) of the constitution or for that matter the entire Article 51A stating the ‘Fundamental Duties of its citizens’ no longer makes any sense for me. Because this country considers that I have all the duties and responsibilities and a woman will only enjoy the benefits of my hard work. Still, it will be considered a patriarchal society and I will be considered as an oppressor. No matter what I do, I am always guilty in the eyes of our lawmakers.
That is why I feel ashamed of being a man, being an educated individual who has earned money and property only through hard work and hard-earned skills. Today there is no incentive for me to work hard or contribute to a nation that considers me guilty even before I am proven guilty. My education from premier engineering colleges of the country including IIT is not needed. This becomes the darkest day of my life, as I understand that my country doesn’t need me or my contributions anymore.