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Why a mindset against men? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Deccan Herald   

The D word has moved from being unthinkable just a few decades ago to a growing reality of modern India.

Manasi Paresh Kumar

In our culture where weddings are celebrated to the point of bankruptcy and loveless and abusive marriage endured in the name of tradition, its anti-thesis, divorce, is also finally coming of age. The ‘D’ word has moved from being unthinkable just a few decades ago to a growing reality of modern India. Many would like to blame it on the financial independence of women. Social commentators however classify this as a reaction to centuries of hardship and suppression that has been embedded in the collective psyche of women.

Whatever the reason and whoever is to blame, it comes a poor second to the real issue which is the breaking up of a family. It is the trauma and humiliation of watching your personal life being paraded in the open and the helplessness that you feel when you can't protect yourself and more importantly, your children from the ugly public spat.

Ask 54-year-old Zoya who lived in her abusive marriage for 30 years before calling it quits. Zoya and Rustum’s love story began in 1956 and five kids later, he filed for a divorce on grounds of adultery. She decided to contest it. “The humiliation of watching the man I once loved accuse me of adultery and claiming that the children were illegitimate, killed every feeling inside me. A man always attacks a woman's character because it hurts most and I can’t figure out whether it was marriage or the divorce which was a greater ordeal," says Zoya who finally won her freedom after 10 years.

But freedom is not all that easy to get. Rashmi (27) an engineer with an MNC entered into an arranged match to an editor of a leading IT magazine. Everything seemed perfect on paper and she couldn’t wait for married life to begin. But by the time first month rolled by, the honeymoon was over in more ways than one. With mood swings that could shame a schizophrenic coupled with a huge inferiority complex, her husband just stopped talking to her for no obvious reason, except to ask for a divorce. She finally agreed and even drafted a mutually acceptable petition, but her husband changed his mind about signing it.

Two years and counting, her case has not even been filed because her husband has been stalling the divorce, he asked for! "The sheer cruelty with which he turned my life upside down on a whim is something I can never get over. I just want my freedom and the only reason he is making it difficult is because it appeases his ego," she says. Last seen she was still doing the rounds of the lawyers’ offices trying to end this nightmare.

But divorce isn’t a painful experience only for women. After all, agony is not exclusive to the fairer sex by the virtue of her gender. Kumar Jagirdhar had been married for 13 years with a four-year-old child, when his wife Chetana filed for divorce on the grounds of incompatibility. “It was a bolt from the blue for me, because we had no problems in our marriage that could only be solved with a divorce," he said.

But while the divorce proceedings cleared with as much civility as possible, the custody battle for their daughter turned ugly. Kumar has been fighting the case for 10 years now demanding that he be given the primary custody of his daughter as Chetana had remarried a celebrity within three months of her divorce and now has two children in her second marriage.

The agonised father says “She is my only child and I want to be a full time parent to her and not just have visitation rights. Why is there a mindset against men, when the law nowhere states that the mother is a better parent, simply because she is a woman? To contest my ex-wife’s allegation that there was no lady at my home to take care of our daughter, I remarried and now they argue that there is a step-mother in the house. It is a no-win situation for the man.”

Kumar has now started an NGO, Children’s Right Initiative for Shared Parenting to help fathers who go through the trauma of losing a child in a custody battle.

(Some of the names changed on request)


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