Alimony as a Right to women?

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Recently in many quarters there is a demand of making alimony as a right to women. Many feminist organizations are seeking this as a right stating that divorced women undergo a lot of hardships after divorce and hence most of the time it becomes difficult for them to fight a court battle for alimony and many choose not to fight for the same. As a result many of them suffer irreparable damages post their divorce.
Whereas these feminists always have projected miserable image of Indian women but in reality it is observed that the benefits of our alimony / maintenance laws are claimed by women who are working in reputed multinationals or in prestigious institutions. It is observed that men who suffer false criminal cases on divorce many a times lose their job yet they are asked to pay maintenance to their wife by the courts. It is also observed that many women who work in reputed organizations leave their job so that they get alimony and after getting the same they again take up a job or get married. But even if these women take up a second job or get married second time there is no mechanism to repay the previous husband the amount claimed as alimony by her.
This is creating a crisis situation among men as many a times they need to take personal loan to meet the alimony demand of their wives. If the man loses his job in between he still needs to pay the money or repay the loan. Most of the time they can not even think of remarrying and have a second life as they go bankrupt due to huge losses suffered in their first divorce. In a way lives of these men are ruined for good and they become lonely. There is another psychological impact to these men as they can not trust any other woman for their future marriage and think of uncertain behaviour of their future wife.
This is a serious issue raging this society that needs immediate attention from all concerned. With the new feminist demand of making alimony a right for women will only make things worse for men in the days to come. But many people and society at large still do not think of this as a big issue and even educated, empowered and working women demand and claim alimony on divorce from their husband and feel proud about it.

At the outset it is very important to understand that this gender biased thought process of only a man responsible for paying alimony and a woman responsible for getting alimony is wrong especially when we are talking about equality. This gender biased approach creates unnecessary burden on a man as it shows that maintaining a wife even when she is NOT present with a man is responsibility of the man. In an era when we talk about equality in rights we also need to talk about equality in responsibilities undertaken and no spouse should be allowed to be a burden on the other spouse simply based on gender. Because if that happens then marriage will become a money making and property transfer institution which is very wrong.
The proposition of making alimony as a right becomes outrageous when a woman’s contribution to a marriage is not specified and may be termed as dowry and a criminal offence; it is made legitimate and as a right when the man pays the same. So marriage becomes an institution where money flows only one way from the man to the woman whereas ideally a relationship is responsibility of both.
But even if we consider alimony in gender neutral way and talk about it as a right to any spouse that will be a wrong approach. It is because a right is something that the state needs to ensure and provide. For example when we say education is a right to the citizens it becomes a state responsibility to ensure free education upto a certain level. The state can not force some private institution or any person to do the same. If alimony is considered as a right then the state needs to provide the same and the husband can not be forced for the same. So we understand that alimony can never be considered as a right to any spouse.
So we understand that alimony needs to be considered in gender neutral way and can not be a right to anyone. However, it should not be a practice for any spouse to get alimony simply because of their marriage, there are other factors that need to be considered.
The first factor that needs to be considered is the ability of the person to maintain himself / herself. This is derived out of his / her education, skills, working experience etc. So a highly qualified spouse can not be allowed to get alimony lest we as a society want to encourage parasitism. But even in these cases one not employed for a long time may not find himself / herself easily employable in current highly competitive job market. And the alimony needs to be allowed wisely only to cover the employability concerns and only for a brief period of time so that the less capable spouse is given reprieve for a limited period of time (a few months). This is what we see in countries positioned high in gender equality e.g. Sweden or in Netherlands.
Question is what happens when one spouse is not capable of finding any job or employment opportunity because of very limited skills. It is even serious because in India we have high unemployment and under-employment problem. It becomes even more difficult for a spouse to find employment when one does not work for a long time.
For all such cases our Govt. needs to have citizen’s welfare program to improve their skills and make them employable. The reason is simple, any person earns or develops capability to earn based on one’s capabilities for which the other spouse is not responsible. One may have several qualities that may bring fortune to him / her whereas these can not be attributed to the other spouse always. Hence the other spouse can not claim the benefits of the high income.
One popular thought process to counter the above reasoning is that because of housewives taking care of the family and household activities the high earning spouse (the husband) is able to earn high income. So the wife becomes 50% shareholder of the property that the husband earns during the matrimonial period. However, this is not true always. There are many wives who create negative thought and hinder the husband from earning. Many suspecting women or adulterous wives make lives of their husband hell and these husbands undergo tremendous stress in their personal as well as professional life. There are many women who do not take care of household activities that they are supposed to perform. Since there is no responsibilities that can be legally enforced on the housewives making them eligible for alimony will only make marriage an extortion tool.
However, those who demand alimony as a right for the women say that household work need to be valued more. The proposers of this thought claims that because the wife does all the household work the husband can peacefully earn and be employed in the first place. Hence she becomes owner of his 50% property.
However an analysis of the global time spent on household activities show us that Indian housewives spend around 5 hours every day which is on the higher side in global scenario.

Alimony as a right to women

However, the people fighting for Men’s rights say that if we include housework in GDP and value it at higher level we do not consider the following –

  1. When we consider a family is the responsibility of both the spouse the responsibilities of each spouse need to be defined. If the man is supposed to earn and feed the family then wife’s responsibility of the household work also need to be defined and any wife not doing that need to be held responsible and can not be given alimony or maintenance.
  2. Since a man can not claim additional benefit for earning money and providing for the family a woman too can not claim additional benefit for doing her duty e.g. household work.
  3. A man always works under stress in a highly competitive environment with chance of losing his job anytime. Whereas a wife does not have any competition in her household work. So these two jobs can not be equated.
  4. A man’s work is always evaluated and his pay is determined not only by his qualities, experience, skills of the job etc but a evaluation of household work is never done that way. If we need to make household work valued at higher level then all quality parameters, work hours, leave etc. need to be fixed beforehand.
  5. A man also contributes a lot in household work as his duty. These also need to be considered for evaluation.
  6. If we want to value the household work more then the families that keep maids for supporting the wife in her daily chores also need to be paid more. Also if the household chore is the woman’s responsibility then it she who needs to pay for these maids since getting these done is her responsibility.

We have seen that housewives have round the clock responsibility of the family whereas the husband can enjoy weekly offs and restricted working hours. Indian women always have qualms about their 24X7 working schedule which also needs to be looked into.
If we consider equality and equal responsibility in a family then the husband can not be over demanding from a wife and need to share household responsibilities. If that is not possible then they may consider taking help of electrical equipments to reduce the household workload. However, the families having children it may not be possible. No electronic gadget can replace a mother’s love or care. Even keeping a ayaa may not be good for the family.
So it is seen that for the cases where children are involved the alimony or maintenance need to be looked into differently. But the modern society has seen a different problem even in the families with children.
Many a times husbands find out that their wife having illicit relationship and many of these wives carry child outside their marriage. Most of the time even though the husband comes to know that he is forced to pay maintenance for the child or the wife and our legal system take many years even to come to any logical conclusion. Problem in these cases is these housewives become eligible for maintenance and alimony simply because they don’t have employability in the job market. MRAs say if they were doing household work (cooking etc.) she can still work as a cook or an ayaa somewhere to support herself because no one can be made to depend on another person for lifelong as that will adversely affect our economy. This is because if we don’t consider behaviour of a wife in a marital relationship marriage will only be extortion tool for these unscrupulous women who will opt for free lunch called marriage while they continue their unchaste behaviour.
It is thus observed that the discussion of alimony is not easy. Also lifelong support for a spouse only creates adverse impact to the economy and if the man is asked to pay maintenance always it creates a group of people (men) who only works like slave while few women enjoy the free lunch provided by patriarchy. This system of free alimony to women also undermines the effort of the women who works hard and takes up responsibility both at work and at home. It undermines the women who spend years in a marital bond and worked for the prosperity of her family and the benefits of the work done by these women go to the unscrupulous criminal women simply because of marriage. Moreover, when the money given by the woman to a man is considered as dowry and a crime how can alimony be even considered legal and as a right? Because both dowry and alimony are in fact two sides of the same coin.

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