On SC's stand for Divorce

PRESS RELEASE - On SC Judgment Regarding Grounds For Divorce
22 March, 2006  
PHONE No. 23710476, 23319566
The All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) expresses its concern over the Supreme Court Judgment in which a direction has been given to the Government to enact laws for the granting of divorce on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriages. AIDWA feels that such a law should not be formulated by the Government in the absence of a law on the woman's rights to marital property, child support and adequate maintenance. Given the unequal status of deserted women and children today, a law for obtaining a divorce on this ground would only worsen their position. AIDWA has many years of experience of dealing with cases in which women and children have been left to fend for themselves after being thrown out of their matrimonial home. Indian women do not have the right to any of the assets in the matrimonial home even after years of marriage. Their contribution to the household has not been recognized by the law. Currently, they only have a right to maintenance, which they find extremely difficult to access. Courts take a long time to pass orders and the maintenance amount is often very small and completely inadequate. This is despite the fact that maintenance is supposed to be granted on the basis of the husband's income and the family's standard and status of living prior to the separation. Thus, most deserted, abandoned and divorced women and their children are forced to become almost totally dependant on their natal families for their day-to-day sustenance. To bring the law suggested by the SC in these circumstances would be adding insult to injury.
It is most unfortunate that divorce laws mostly serve patriarchal interests. While the grounds for obtaining a divorce have become more liberal, the rights of the wives and children have not been safeguarded and strengthened.
AIDWA recognizes the fact that in cases of irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, divorce is often necessary, but this should not be a tool for unscrupulous husbands to get rid of their wives and children before providing for an adequate financial settlement for them.
Subhashini Ali
Kirti Singh
(Convener, Legal Committee)