Unfair and Unjust-The Economic Rights and Entitlements of Separated/ Divorced Women in India

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ABSTRACT: The patriarchal Indian state has ensured that the economic rights and entitlements of separated women remain at a minimum. My study of these women surveys the conditions under which they live and to what extent they are able to access and benefit from the law which anyway gives them limited rights in their homes. It examines the living conditions of the surveyees after their separation and the obstacles faced by them and their children who often reside with them. It also looks at the work status and earning capacities of both the spouses, before and after the marriage, and the assets that these women own.

Though Indian women are governed by different personal laws according to the religious community they belong to, none of these laws provide them any rights apart from a limited right of maintenance (spousal support). In actuality, this right to maintenance does not provide women adequate financial support to be able to live in a manner to which they have been accustomed. The courts’ conservatism, the length of time cases take to be decided, and the lack of effective mechanisms to enforce the relief granted makes it extremely difficult for women to access this right. Meanwhile, they have no right to marital property which has been acquired during the subsistence of their partnership/marriage. Neither the Indian law nor government policy, views the work women do within the home as productive work or work of any economic value. Typically women, even working women, are forced to spend long hours in doing household chores and unpaid care work. The non-recognition of household work and “care” work results in reinforcement of gender discrimination and inequality.

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