The Guardian recently reported on a case which has been dragged through the Indian courts for over twenty years has finally been settled, with a husband granted a divorce.
Within the Hindu religion, it is accepted that should a husband still live with his parents, then his wife should also live in the same house and make every effort to get along with her in-laws. The wife may not force the husband to leave his parents’ home, although she should move with him, should he decide to live independently.
In this instance, the woman is said to have wished to move out as she had a poor relationship with her husband’s family. The situation finally deteriorated to the point where she attempted to commit suicide.
Justice Anil R Dave who heard the case, was nevertheless unsympathetic with the woman’s plight, stating that had her suicide attempt been successful, this would have placed “tremendous stress” on her surviving husband, whose life he said, would no doubt have been ruined.
Despite the fact that the wife’s claims that her husband had been having an affair, the judge decided that these claims were untrue and that her suicide attempt was an attempt to manipulate her husband’s family.
In India, it is believed to be the son’s duty to look after his parents, rather than the responsibility of a daughter. This duty should take precedence over all other circumstances where possible.
Given the wife’s actions, the judge finally deemed it appropriate to grant the husband a divorce on the grounds of her supposed “cruelty”.
Unfortunately, divorce in India carries a high degree of stigma, particularly for a woman, who is offered little support. Unlike in Western countries, there is no such thing as shared matrimonial assets or property, so the best a divorced woman can hope for is a small payment of matrimony from her ex-husband.