Here is an interesting news story based on statistics about divorce filings in Mumbai:
Women are playing the waiting game when it comes to getting divorced.
Between January and August this year, divorce cases in Mumbai fell by 23% compared to the corresponding period last year.
Women have directed their lawyers to slow down proceedings till the Marriages Law (Amendment) Bill is passed in the Lok Sabha in the winter session of Parliament. The bill proposes that a woman should get up to 50% share from her husband’s inheritance and properties.
According to the Bandra family court, there were 2,826 divorces in the first eight months of last year. The figure fell to 2,157 in the same period this year.
We are glad to see that an important fact is being implicitly acknowledged here: that not only in developed Western countries, in India too the divorces are mainly initiated by women (80-85% according to this Tehelka story). Which gender is playing the ‘waiting game’ here – women!
Further, it is clear that just like the existing divorce laws this new law allowing for IrBM (Irretrievable breakdown of marriage) being passed under Marriage Law (Amendment) Bill will also be used by affluent and middle classes.
Divorce lawyer Mrunalini Deshmukh says a few of her female clients, especially those from affluent families, are adopting the wait-and-watch approach before rushing for a divorce. “They stand to gain a lot more from the husband’s
property if the Bill in its current form becomes an Act,” she said.
Don’t expect any ‘weak’/dis-empowered/rural women to line up in family courts to escape from defunct marriages. The usual statements about protecting women and woman empowerment are just the ruse given to force ill-drafted laws through the parliament. The beneficiaries will be middle and upper class women who will be eagerly helped by legal professionals in their quest to maximize returns from divorce.
Further, there are natural fears being expressed by men rights activists and being acknowledged by lawyers too.
Men fear that just like the anti-dowry law, the proposed law might also be misused by women. Lawyers, too, believe many women might misuse this Bill for financial gains.
The reality is as follows. The use (and not misuse) of this new law will be to get unjustly enriched at the expense of the husbands. When incentives are being given to get a no-fault divorce and thereby get financial settlement and man’s property, it will be very difficult for any woman to accept a lesser ‘share’ on moral and ethical grounds. If at all, the usual slow judicial process in Indian courts may force some women to settle for lesser amounts than they hoped for, but the real losers will be children and society by the onset of a new regime of no-fault divorce (only for women) in India.
One has to take a look at divorce rates and marriage rates in Western countries to see what happened there after no-fault divorce laws (albeit for both men and women) were passed there.
The divorce rates in Australia spiked after IrBM law was passed there in 1975.
Some folks have pointed out that the crude divorce rates (divorces per 1000 population) has been stable or declining in last few years. However, that has to be seen in light of the fact that the marriage rates have been declining throughout last few decades too. E.g. chart giving marriage and divorce rates from UK below shows continuous decline in marriage rates.