You may have heard of patriarchy restricting and harming women. But, now men’s rights activists are up in arms against patriarchy, as they feel courts are tying them to patriarchal roles, while allowing granting modern privileges to women.
Recently, The Supreme Court said the husband would have to arrange for payment of maintenance to wife even if he had no job. “Sometimes, a plea is advanced by the husband that he does not have the means to pay, for he does not have a job or his business is not doing well. These are only bad excuses and, in fact, they have no acceptability in law,” the bench said.
Supreme Court has to understand that most men in India do not have a permanent job like Government employees with fixed salaries. Many men lose their jobs and some of them end up with jobs which pay them less than what they used to earn earlier.
The Indian judiciary is extremely traditional in thinking, that it’s a man’s duty to be provider and it’s a woman’s duty to stay at home. We do not see courts asking women to find a job to earn a living.
Men losing jobs due to Section 498a
Now-a-days, often the women misuse the criminal laws like section 498a to harass the husband and the courts do not give bail to the men for months or years, making him and his parents run around from pillar to post paying his lawyers. In the end, he loses all his savings and even job running around for bails. Courts never consider this aspect and then order him to pay maintenance to the wife, when he is jobless due to the way Judiciary functions in India.
“The Supreme Court’s order to prevent misuse of section 498a has fallen on deaf ears of lower judiciary. Now, courts are charging men of attempt to murder for a mere quarrel or differences with wife.” Says Rajesh Vakharia, President of Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF).
“There are recent instances where men have to travel from one end to another end of the country for 10 times to attend the bail hearing in dowry cases, as courts just postponed the decision to give bail.” He says.
Supreme Court should first ensure that no man loses jobs due to harassment by courts and postponement of bail hearings for dozens of times.
Supreme Court should connect with ground realities and plight of many poor and middle class people running around courts rather than just reminding them of their traditional duties.
Too Traditional Interpretation of Law
Lakhs of women today want to break free from traditional duties and courts have started accepting this modern thinking.
However, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of maintenance laws is too traditional and patriarchal. At a time, when women are talking about their choices and freedom, and courts are accepting modern choices of women, it is double standard if courts keep expecting men to fulfill their traditional duties.
“Courts must free men from traditional duty of a provider, when they are taking non-traditional view towards women’s aspirations. These are double standards, if men are tied down to traditional expectations, while granting modern privileges to women.” Says Jyoti Tiwari, spokesperson of SIFF at Delhi.
Recently, Law Commission of India submitted a proposal to Law Ministry to amend the Hindu Marriage Act to make old in-laws to provide maintenance to young woman during divorce, if her husband is disabled or is unable to earn to maintain her.
“Why men should bear all the traditional burdens when society and courts choose to give modern privileges to women?” Asks Jyoti Tiwari.
“Family Courts in most western countries have outright done away with the concept of maintenance to women. It’s high time, Indian Governments and Family Courts stop practicing traditional patriarchal principles. Men are torn between patriarchal expectations and pressures to become modern,” she says.