Man granted divorce after ‘cruel’ wife refused to nurse him through chickenpox

An Indian woman who failed to nurse her husband when he had chickenpox was guilty of “mental cruelty”, Indian judges have ruled.
Dr Prashant Khopkar, 46, and his wife Sangeeta, 42, had been estranged after she had a series of arguments with her mother-in-law.
Their dispute continued after Sangeeta Khopkar was admitted to hospital with high blood pressure when she was pregnant with their second child. When she was discharged, her mother-in-law would not allow her to return to their extended family home.
But when Dr Khopkar later fell ill with chickenpox, he expected his wife to nurse him. Her failure to do so, he claimed, amounted to “mental cruelty”.
His wife had not wanted a divorce, only to live separately from his parents, and had made a court application for the “restitution of conjugal rights”. Her husband rejected it and sought a divorce.
Ruling on her appeal, the judges upheld her husband’s application for divorce on grounds of the “agony” he suffered when she failed to nurse him.
“The respondent after having suffered from chickenpox was required to have outside food [takeaways] for a period of almost nine months,” the judges said. “The agony and plight of the respondent during the process of recovery cannot be ignored.”
Women’s rights campaigners said the ruling highlighted the subordinate position of women in Indian marriages and the legal expectation that they will act as servants to their husbands.
“It shows the cliché of rules for husbands and wives in the Hindu religion where she is in a subordinate position and that is there in the judgment,” said senior lawyer and campaigner Vrinda Grover.

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