In a chilly winter morning, the residents of Bangalore were shocked to see a man with hoarding that said, ‘Woman is a burden – change my mind’. As expected, many rushed to change his mind, all dudes. Some laughed, some argued, some abused and some nodded with a cheeky smile.
When I first saw the picture on social media, I was interested to understand his thoughts and exactly what happened in the event. So, I tried to connect with him through my sources and finally could connect with him.
He is Neeraj from Bangalore. He is highly educated, was highly employed until some time ago and was expected to get employed again soon but when I spoke with him, he was in a transition in life and was unemployed due to fake cases and was still paying monthly maintenance to his highly educated wife.
As we connected over phone, I was eager to understand his perspective of why he thought women are a burden (to men, to society).
Q. What led you to think that woman is a burden?
A. After marriage, men are held responsible to maintain their wives. But what about the responsibilities of the wife. When the woman is the problem creator, and when the man is undergoing problems like physical, mental problems, financial loss, job loss etc. nothing is considered by anyone.
What is more shocking is that, even if the marriage lasted only for one day, a man is supposed to pay his wife maintenance. If the length of the marriage is 15-20 years, then it is understandable. The contract of marriage is making husbands pay their wives for a lifetime without any contribution from her to the family.
Q. So, you think a woman is a burden due to the skewed maintenance laws. So, did you get this thought only after getting these cases?
A. Yes. Before marriage, in my family, my mother, sister and other women members shared equal responsibilities. We helped each other to make our lives beautiful. So, there was no such feeling that woman is a burden. The moment I was married, I found that there was no such responsibility of my wife.
Q. In our initial conversation, you told, we men are responsible to maintain our wives, then why do you think women are a burden?
A. Does it mean you should not expect anything out of the relationship, and just need to maintain her for her lifetime? Marriage is a bond of love, and without any relationship or love and care from her why should a man pay a woman for her lifetime. Without her supporting the man’s family, without supporting his emotions, why should he be responsible for you pay her for her lifetime? You marry because you want someone to support you, but even without that support from her, you are made responsible to maintain her.
So, these women are just sitting idle at home and extorting money from their husband. They are just turning into parasites. Whereas the govt has many employment and skill development programs for women, why they are not forced to take up those programs and enhance their skills.
Also, if there is any graduate woman who is not able to take care of herself, that is the problem of our education system. Why is her husband punished for that?
Q. If an unemployed woman marries you, how do you expect that woman to support herself after divorce? During Hindu Marriage, we men take a vow to take care of our wives for their lifetime, so why are you opposing it now?
A. Is that only the husband taking an oath? Wife is not taking the same? When the wife is also taking an oath of taking care of the family together, then when she is not doing that, why shouldn’t we hold her responsible? When a woman is highly educated, say MBBS, MD or MBA and saying she is jobless and needs husband’s money to sustain, that itself is parasitism.
How long can she be jobless? Will she be jobless for her entire lifespan? Whatever maintenance she gets will that be enough for her?
So, existing govt schemes to employ women or upskill them should be enforced upon them and they should be encouraged to seek employment for themselves rather than depending on their husband’s money.
We may support our wives but that can be for 6 months or 1-year, not for a lifetime. There are many other jobs like tailoring, household maid jobs etc. Why can’t they take up those jobs? Why are men held responsible to maintain their wives for lifelong?
Q. So, do you think, the courts should not grant maintenance to a woman immediately after her filing maintenance cases, but should encourage them to get trained and get employed first?
A. See, we can pay maintenance for 6 months, but not any longer. We may still take care of her during the period she gets trained or looks out for employment but not for her lifetime. That maintenance order can’t be for lifelong maintenance.
Q. But Neeraj, as a men’s advocate, when you say that even for 1-day marriage a husband can pay 6 months maintenance, don’t you think you are making marriage a money-making institution for women?
A. See, the govt has made these laws for distressed women. There may be some women who are distressed and need maintenance. But these laws are misused by educated women. So, our courts must verify if these women are really distressed.
As men, we are more helpful so we may support them for six-months or 1-year. So, we will give them some time while they are getting upskilled. But not for a lifetime.
Q. So, you are saying, even for 1-day marriage, it’s fine for men to support their wives for 6-months or so?
A. Yes, if the woman is saying that she doesn’t have food, shelter etc with big hearts we may support them for 6-months. So, in these 6-months she needs to be capable of getting employed.
Q. If she was not married, that responsibility of training her would have become her father’s responsibility, but because of this 1-day marriage, you are saying, it’s fine if the responsibility shifts to the husband?
A. Yes, with big hearts we may still pay that but these problems of hers should be proved first. Also, if we believe in equal rights, we also need to believe in equal responsibilities. Rights can never come without responsibilities. As an adult, she should be responsible not only to maintain herself but also to take care of husband’s liabilities.
Also, I wonder how her father’s responsibility can vanish simply on her marriage? Now giving and taking dowry is a crime. So, her father’s responsibilities just vanish after her marriage, no matter how short that marriage was.
Q. Now when you say, ‘Woman is a Burden’, that implies ‘a woman is a burden even outside the marriage’. How do you justify that?
A. Yes, even when she is not married, she is a burden for her father. Her father has to take care of her, give her education, support her all through. For boys, a father is responsible until he becomes 18-years of age, but after that, he needs to be on his own. But a woman remains a burden to her father until she gets married.
Q. There are many boys, who need their parents’ support until 30-years of age or even more because of unemployment. We also have many examples where girls take up jobs and support their families. So, when you make a generic statement like ‘woman is a burden’, don’t you think that statement doesn’t apply to every woman?
A. It depends on her emotional bonding with her parents. When you are taking good care of your parents, you are taking care of other household duties of the family, there exists a strong bond, then there is no problem for parents to take care of children when they are down in their life. Today’s women don’t want to take care of household responsibilities as well, they say it is oppression, they don’t take care of financial responsibilities of the family as they become ‘abala nari’ (oppressed woman) then, so they only become a burden. Since maintaining the family is not the responsibility of a daughter or a girl child, she is still dependent on her parents even after being an adult. Whereas a boy is responsible to maintain his parents, else he may be punished as well.
Q. Could anyone so far convince you that ‘women are not a burden’?
A. Actually, many people told me that when women are taking equal responsibility in every field, how can they be considered as a burden? Women are actually competing with men in all positions.
So, you understand, that it is the judiciary that is making women a burden. When the Judiciary considers her as ‘abala nari’ (oppressed woman), then they are actually killing the potential/creativity of women by giving them easy maintenance. Let these women also contribute to the economy and contribute to India’s growth.
Q. Did you face any abuse from any feminist or any man?
A. Yes, many came to attack me. The moot point is, whenever there is love, affection, care in a family no one will feel women as a burden. Whenever there are sorrow and sadness in your family, you don’t feel like you have a family. You don’t feel like going home. So, where is the motivation to work when there is no family bonding, no love, care, affection from her?
Read – The ‘My Choice’ Lifestyle
When the woman takes all care of the family, the husband will take all care of her. Women are increasingly not taking responsibility for their family and are becoming a burden to everyone.
Q. Did people give you examples of your mother and sister to change your mind?
A. Yes, and I told them, when there are love and affection then they will never be a burden. But judiciary and feminists are making them burden by allowing free maintenance and by provoking them not to make any contribution in a family from their side. That is why women are increasingly becoming a burden to all.
Disclaimer – Views expressed are his personal. TMF doesn’t support men paying maintenance simply on marriage. A woman’s responsibilities in a marriage should be clearly defined and need to be equal to those of a man.