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Gender war gets fiercer as govt mulls marriage bill change PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Vineeta Pandey - DNA New Delhi   

Men's bodies say provisions in proposed bill heavily biased towards women, want BiLL to be neutral

Men's organisations are asking "why should wives have all the fun" while proposing changes to the parliament's standing committee that is studying amendments in marriage laws bill.
The dispute is over "irretrievable breakdown of marriage" being made a ground for divorce, with men's bodies arguing that the provisions in the proposed bill is heavily biased towards women.
Women's groups, on the other hand, have said that if the changes are made then a wife should be given an equal share in assets at the time of divorce.
The proposed amendments are being examined by a committee headed by Congress MP in Rajya Sabha Jayanti Natarajan. The amendments include inserting sections in the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriage Act to make irretrievable breakdown of marriage a ground for divorce and do away with a compulsory waiting period of six months for moving a joint motion after filing for divorce.

However, the changes include that the wife can oppose the petition on account of hardships she would have to endure and demand maintenance for children before agreeing for divorce.
Arguing that the proposed changes are not gender neutral, husbands have sought amendment in certain sections which would ensure that they are not at the receiving end. The women's groups, however, have told the committee that the proposed amendments will take away the bargaining rights of a woman and give sole discretion to men.
The All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) argued for equal division of matrimonial property during divorce and that in case the woman decides to live with her children she should be given the right to residence.
"There should be a realistic amount given for maintenance taking into account a woman's contribution to the household in terms of her time and energy," said Supreme Court lawyer Kirti Singh, who is representing the AIDWA.
However, while deposing before the committee the men's bodies have sought amendment in section 13D of the act to allow even husbands to get maintenance due to "financial and emotional hardship".
"The law should be gender neutral with even men having the right to oppose granting of divorce to save their marriage for the sake of children or other reasons. Secondly, by talking about maintenance to children the presumption is that by default the custody would go to mothers. This is unfair and not agreeable to us. Custody should be decided on merit.
"And thirdly, the tenure of a marriage should be taken into account while deciding alimony and maintenance. Short-lived marriages should not be considered for maintenance," said Kumar Jahgirdar, a member of Children's Right Initiative for Shared Parenting.



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