Helplessly educated and single

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January 13th, 2011 Lipi Mohapatra

A friend of mine felt helplessly educated when her husband, while still married to her, secretly ‘acquired’ another woman 16 to 18 years younger. My friend was aware of her rights in such a situation, but was still groping for answers.

“What are the choices before me?” she asked me. My educated head said she should go legal and either end it or contest it.

The husband’s act was illegal, without a trace of doubt, although my friend’s ‘b(i)etter half’ kept proclaiming innocence, brushing this piece of information off as a rumour.

I don’t know what amazed me. Was it the age difference between her husband and the other woman? His casual approach to an act that invites criminal prosecution under Indian laws? The support he was getting from his family?  Or just the timid response of my friend who was a mere spectator to all that was happening in her life?

“Contest,” I egged her on. “The case is in your favour and you’ll win.”

“It’s murky,” said a common friend. “Just let it go.”

“Do it on mutual basis,” said someone else.

Understandably, her family was troubled with the fact that she would soon be ‘single’. As feminist write Erica Jong puts it, ‘Singularity shows something wrong in the mind.’

I discussed the situation with my mom for some elderly perspective. Her view was this -“In India, being single is losing the choice to be spontaneous and secure.” Being single is like unprotected sex, where you are vulnerable to many questions, glances and hush talks.

My friend will soon figure out what to do next. But, according to Deepak Miglani, Advocate, President Legal Point Foundation, here are a few choices a woman in her situation has:

  1. Seek legal advice
  2. Register an online complaint with the National Commission for Women at www.ncw.nic.in.  Here investigations by police are expedited and monitored.
  3. If there is still a chance to rework the reunion, seek the help of family, friends or a marriage counselor.

If her husband seeks divorce, she can claim maintenance under:

  1. Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code,
  2. Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act,
  3. The Domestic Violence Act,
  4. The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act

A few points to note:

  • Maintenance is granted keeping in view the financial capacity of husband and his source of income. The Income Tax return is not final authority for deciding the quantum of maintenance, though it is taken into consideration.
  • Where maintenance is admissible the woman usually has to merely state that she is wife. Strict proof is not essential in every case.
  • Maintenance can be granted u/s 125 CrPC as well as u/s 24 simultaneously. Generally, however a wife cannot claim more than 50% of his income.
  • In case of settlement of assets jointly owned, she can claim half the amount, where she has not contributed, and the full amount that she spent, if her contribution was more.
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10 Responses to “Helplessly educated and single”

  1. Nidhi Says:

    Its beautiful to be Single, Educated. Its Fabulous. Tell your friend to forget what happened. The husband was probably getting old and was desparate, so he got married to anyone who looked like a woman :) . You go girl and make the most of your new found singlehood status. Travel, spend more time on your hobbies. Do something creative. As Piya says - think he is dead.

  2. Unknown Says:

    Quick question, I read the article and it is impressive, but I wonder what if women do the same with the man? If woman seeking divorce will man can be offered with same benefits as per Indian constitution?

  3. Shraddhalu b Says:

    Educative and instructive. good point raised. any woman can face this predicament. walking is easier said than done, staying in is equally a challenge. a truly catch 22 situation that many women face in India, esp since the social fabric is stretched so thin, men glare at women thru it whether they are married, single or caught in a fix!

  4. Ravi Says:

    Some ridiculous suggestions like ‘immigrate’ or ‘think he is dead and stay’ are being forwarded. One should work for marriage to work. Do you have children ? If yes, what about their future ? The husband is coming home, supporting you financially and taking care of your (as well his) children. Only thing is he is seeing somebody else. Why ? If you could identify, solution is just at hand.

    As husband has found out somebody who is 16-18 younger to him. That means husband is around 35-40 and this is a ‘valid’ age to get distracted. I suggest that give him as much love as you can. Forget what he is doing. Make yourself attracted to him. Most probably, he must be feeling neglected at home (your attention and availability) for him to get distracted. Better give him attention. Make him feel lovable. Go for a family trip. Flings are generally short-lived. Host regular dinner for his friends and family. Keep him engaged. Stop pinpointing him this weakness. Work for solution and stop thinking of the problem.

  5. s.r. mishra Says:

    I agree with Piya. We should befriend with enough possible good people to face this type of treacherous activity of those whom we love. Sometime our faith make us away from the reality. Never mind world is big and everyone has his/her place. Carry on with life.

    S.R. Mishra

  6. Ravi Says:

    Wives take marriage for granted. They should equally work to make it a success. Husbands have more opportunities to find solutions for their indifferent wives, and there are women who prefer married and ‘unsatisfied’ men. So, these husbands find easy solutions.
    Married women must ‘work’ to remain attractive and available to their husbands. Lower down your nagging habbits. Give care and win awards.

  7. Pavan Joshi Says:

    # 1 Idea: Take the plunge.

    Reember life is short, life is beautifull.

    The basic human desire to belong. To be part of society. Such is the stuff of human rights.

    And that is we Asians excel in knocking the ones who are down-and-out. Victim - one does not need to play, the system, family and friends victimise one anyways. The system is loaded with degradation, domination-supplication, loser social sturcture dynamics. Human rights violations. Mental torture. No human, woman’s or animal rights in India for the common man.

    Catch a plane and get a new life. So do-able.

  8. Pavan Joshi Says:

    /

    Brace yourself, seek out support and most important, grab the money (property specially), and run.
    Run in this case = immigration. Most difficult is to find support, specially from family. Can be # 1 enemy.

    Playing victim is a valid option for losers. Also suicidal and damaging to others. Often e-mail, facebook contact with someone from school or college re-settled in US, Canada, UK, Oz and other such places may be most sympathetic, usefull and … hehe … self-interest driven. Not a bad thing in the context of ‘Western Civilization’, for eg. beats pigging, ostracisation and ghetto-isation in Asia. A new life, a fresh begining. Takes -Himmat. Result always positive.

    /

  9. sreenanda Says:

    Life can be brutal and unfair, true.This is just one shade of that realm and can justice really equate the memories that were rich with love once; everyone slips in life ,sad things happen and we do feel betrayed yet we can never contain anyone and the more we make an attempt to do so, the more it will slip away.
    Education never stops, LIFE LESSONS happen outside the classroom; am sure with time this crisis that your friend is facing now will only empower her .

  10. Piya Says:

    Do not disolve the marriage. Stay in it. Think he is dead.
    Make friends (I mean, friends) of your own. Anyway you have to make friends of your own after Divorce.
    Maintain a large circle of friends so that you do not feel lonely and do not get exploited.
    Enjoy life. There is more to life than stereotyped marriages.

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