February 2012 Eve’s Times
inds of change have been blowing in therecent past, interspersed with the almostunavoidable unsavoury occurrences. We have been witness to a few astounding developments, be it the scrapping of all 2 G licences or theannouncement of the recommendations of thegovernment panel on equal property rightsamong couples.The Valentine week has good news for couplesmarried or in live-in relationship. Gripped as itis by mass plagiarism of western values, an entiregeneration of young India is adopting western values without considering the consequences of such massive attitude changes; whether they aregood enough to replace our own rich heritage andcultural moorings or whether we have the socialinfrastructure to contend with the consequencesof the drastic changes in values and lifestyles. Thenation is moving ahead as though blindfoldedand left in a maze! In the process, those whoare weak and vulnerable, especially women belonging to the lower economic strata, children born out of wedlock as well as those from brokenhomes, street children and a huge number of girls in the rural areas as well as urban working women and minor girls languishing in abusiverelationships are the one’s affected by a skewedlegal system. While we are almost immune to shocking news,it was still heart wrenching to see baby Falak struggling for her life or hear the news that theminor girl who brought her to the hospital is in a‘live-in relationship’ with a much married man.If we do not take steps to alter age old laws andprovide home and shelter for those affected, we will soon be a nation of single mothers withchildren, abandoned children, a still lower sexratio unfavourable to the girl child, abusiverelationships and the almost indestructibledowry culture.In this context, the panel’s suggestion that ‘allmoveable and immovable assets acquired by a married couple or a couple living together be
classied as joint property which would be divided
equitably in caseof separation ordesertion,’ is amuch welcomemove. It is heartening to know that the PlanningCommission’s working group on Women’s Agency and Empowerment wants a comprehensivelegislation and that the ‘right to Marital Property Act’ to be brought in would be applicable to allcommunities. The panel also wants a completerelook at family laws.The committee, which had representatives fromthe ministries of law and home, also suggested areview of laws related to maintenance to ensurethat separated women and children got anadequate amount of maintenance and custody rights. It suggested removing all discriminatory provisions in existing laws that link a woman’sconduct with the grant of maintenance. Thepanel says that laws should be framed with a view to place the onus on the husband to provehis income and the quantum of maintenanceaward should enable the wife and children tolive at the same standard of living that they have been used to. The government should be maderesponsible for recovery of the maintenanceamount, along with creation of a fund to pay themaintenance awarded by the court, particularly to poor litigants. If the recommendations arepassed, then innumerable women leading livesof indignity and misery after separation , with
meager nancial resources to raise their children
and lack of support from their families or thesociety will escape from the clutches of ‘fate’and ensure that they can raise a healthy futuregeneration. Coming during the month when we are introspecting about relationships, it is amuch appreciated step to ease the lot of Indian women who have been left in the lurch by theirhusband or partner!
Armor for Abandoned Women
february Eves Times.indd 107/02/12 1:22 PM