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Separating A Man From Parents Is Cruelty. How About Married Women Who Leave Their Homes?

Posted: October 8, 2016
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A recent judgment says separating a man from parents is cruelty. How can the law support this bias that married women who leave their parental homes are only following a ‘natural’ course?

The case of Narendra vs. K. Meena, that was heard by the Supreme Court yesterday, is of great interest to all. The bench presided by Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice L. Nageswara Rao passed the judgment that forcing a man to separate from his parents amounted to an act of cruelty.

While in this particular case, there were allegations made that the wife threatened the husband and harassed him, one needs to look at what the Bench had to say with respect to the separation of a man from his parents.

“In normal circumstances, a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after the marriage. She becomes integral to and forms part of the family of the husband and normally without any justifiable strong reason; she would never insist that her husband should get separated from the family and live only with her…. If a wife makes an attempt to deviate from the normal practice and normal custom of the society, she must have some justifiable reason for that and in this case, we do not find any justifiable reason, except monetary consideration of the Respondent wife. In our opinion, normally, no husband would tolerate this and no son would like to be separated from his old parents and other family members, who are also dependent upon his income.”

By stating this, the apex institution has in fact granted a stamp of approval to the age old custom of woman leaving her house and joining the man’s family. That this is what was considered “normal” and that it would infact be unreasonable for her to want a separation.

What stings the most is the fact that they presume that men would not like to leave their families but that it was completely okay for women to do so.

The wording of their statements proves that it has always been taken for granted that the woman should leave her own home and parents behind but that would never be called ‘cruelty’. It is very startling that the highest court in the nation would say this.

Can we (reasonably) expect that the law should always be free from such bias?

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41 Comments


  1. Hi Khushboo, i always welcome a different thought like you. Society is going through so many changes and there r so many things needs to be rewritten no doubt about it. But in this particular case I appreciate court judgement. Dont see this case only from marrige institution perspective but in any case harrasing, forcing anyone male, female,kid is not acceptable. In this particular case it is unwritten rule of the society that girl will stay with inlaws and when a girl getting married , she and her family are accepting this norm and then only going ahead.
    I as a female had to take care of my parent and I do understand that boys family also need someone at old age. I put my condition very firmly whenever anyone comes with marrige proposal. Resulting I am still unmarried but I dont have any hard feeling for them i am not here to change the society favorable as per my convenient. I am the change.
    So if a girl dont want to leave her parents , no one can force her. But after marrying try to change 4-5 lives as per your convenient is not justifiable.
    Take a strong step like me then only things will change . Arrange Marrige is a bussiness , you r signing a sort of contract then only u r entering into it. Better is keep your narms clear and loud.

    • Well, I guess these lawmakers have risen above the Constitution of India, which clearly states the “RIGHT TO EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW” as the first”FUNDAMENTAL” right of an Indian citizen .
      This decision is a direct infringement of the very essence of Constitution on India and should be revoked asap.

  2. If it cruel for the son to be seperAtely from his parents,why does the rest of the ‘ civilised ‘ world not think that? The accepted norm is that the woman should leave all her family behind,and forget them and accept the mans family.My question is why? The man marries a woman to start his NEW family not to acquire an unpaid sexual and domestic slave!
    Where are the rights of the woman? Why is the law BIASED AGAINST the woman’s feelings and status?
    Laws are supposed to protect ALL humans! But of course what can we expect from MANMADE laws BUT BIAS.
    It makes me sad that in a country where, Godesses of legends are worshipped ,BUT real women are punished, just for living

    • Out here in this judgement its just about wife forcing his husband to break realtion with his family. Same should be applicable for men if they force wife to break her relationship with family. So i don’t understand why women are taking it so hard on themselves.

    • Society mandates that a son and only a son is duty bound to look after his parents. It is not only the rights of one gender which has to be protected but more importantly, human rights that too of the parents. Also in India, the brides family is informed that the parents will live with the boy. Even then, if the wife has any problems, divorce is the only solution. Should the old parents be left to fend for themselves just because tem living with her cramps her freedom and style. Why can’t she just divorce as an mature adult and fight to be with him and then inhibit him from doing his duties. If you want to be taken care of (which is an adjustment done by the husband) should be reciprocated by the wife to stay with the parents of the boy. If she is in disagreement , let her just walk off. Who is preventing her….Apt judgement.

    • Completely agree with you. If a woman have to leave her parents house to start a new family then all men have to leave their parents to start a family no to aquare the woman. I wonder how supreme court tells the same what this uneducated society tells. My question is why should we follow the rules of society, which made by some male to protect their side, all all unwritten rules of society made by uneducated people in favour of male? Rules of society are not law we should remember this. It’s mandatory for every men to leave their parents if their wife wants to do so, because she already done it.

  3. Nice Article. Totally agree with you.

  4. If women think that they shouldn’t leave their parents,they should marry a guy who can keep her parents with him after marriage,or better don’t marry at all.why so much fuss about simple things?

    • If men thinks that his future wife will eventually want to move out of his parents house, then he shouldn’t get married at all. why so much fuss about simple things?

  5. On the bright side, this easily allows the woman to walk out of a bad marriage. In India, we don’t really have the concept of “irrevocable breakdown” without any reasons for a divorce. So according to this judgment, the woman merely needs to insist on the guy leaving his parents. And when he refuses, divorce! Problem solved 🙂

  6. I complete ly disagree. Separation from the family is cruelty. A girl before marrying should take this decision. V r all hypocrites as if d same incidence takes place within girl’s family the married girl will oppose.

  7. This judiciary is promoting female fetecide.. india needs female judiciary system for females..

    • You should look into the merits of this particular case before cherry-picking facts in order to suit your narrative. They are not promoting female foeticide by giving a sane judgement. Please do not cast aspersions on the highest Court by making frivolous allegations.

  8. Making realize the truth is a tough job, everyone has their own understanding instead of mutual understanding. The concept of separating a man from parents in not just physically living under one roof but in other aspects too… eg not living in a joint family is a good idea and even a man looks for privacy but below points to be considered and to be allowed to let happen.
    1. If a parent of a man is not well it is his responsibility to stay with them till they recover in their home of course the wife can stay in her home and take care of her & kids.
    2. If parent are not earning it is sons responsibly to attend to their monitory needs after providing the basic facilities to his wife and kids (food, clothing & shelter) luxuries can be provided if only he can afford.
    3. Likewise earning women should be allowed to spend on her parents if they have no son or if she is willing to spend on them on their basic amenities and if the women are not working there can spend from their saving from what her man provides her.
    4. Likewise women should be allowed to attend to their parents after attending to her husband and kids.
    And just because we are lazy or stingy we cannot push our partner to perform our duties.
    So it is mutual and we should realize everyone does not have the same capabilities especially between the genders.
    Man has some natural ability even if he is the dumbest man on earth, likewise the women. Which the opposite gender person cannot perform.
    Last but not least if we think we cannot take all this mutuality the court judgment is a perfect solution and don’t feel odd to accept and perform it.

    (Peace be upon you)

  9. I am surprised by some of the comments written by men here. I feel the judgement is biased. Why can the guy not take care of his parents even if he lives separately from them? Why is it a cruelty to the man if he is forced to live separately from parents? As women, we had no choice. We are expected to leave parents and follow the husband and treat them like our God. Isn’t it the husband’s responsibility to give primary importance to the wife’s wishes? There may be reasons of cruelty from the wife on the husband, but surely it is not cruelty to make husband live away from his parents.

    • Mam please do not base your conclusions on the basis of some catchy headline. I request you to go through the actual judgement of Supreme Court in order to know the merits of the case. It is not a generic judgement. It is a specific one. You can read the actual judgement of the Supreme Court here: http://www.livelaw.in/forcing-husband-get-separated-parents-amounts-cruelty-sc/

    • I totally agree with Island. Secondly, please be mindful that the tradition (good or bad) so far has been this way. It means a woman is mentally prepared from day 1 when she has seen her parents living this way themself…a man has not and suddenly imposing this change will tantamount to harassment or cruelty. Finally, if one makes that choice it should be prior to marriage and mutual or atleast mutual later on…not one way. The woman also can always insist on being with her parents and agreeing to provide for them herself.

  10. congrats! lovely meaningful article. but not surprised by the response from men. when the entire family structure favours men, then why will they not get disturbed? look at the lines in the judgment “In normal circumstances, a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after the marriage. She becomes integral to and forms part of the family of the husband and normally without any justifiable strong reason”. who is fixing “normalcy” and what is “normal”? a century back even sati was “normal”. why cant we question our culture? why do we get so paranoid or may be sacred? of course, men don’t want to think and act, because he has to change if he knows the truth. so it is good to blame the ones who questions their authority.
    apart from certain aspects, our culture brutally favours men, and I totally dislike it. if he is a really thinking and caring man, for a change, let him and his wife stay at her place after marriage, help her parents and only occationally visit his parents, may be then he will understand, what it means to separate from parents. may be then he may appreciate this article.

    • A wonderful response. And encapsulates my thoughts perfectly. Of course we need compassion for the elderly. But what about parents who only have daughters – like mine? Are they not entitled to the same care and affection? I like what Sneha Paul Gray has commented – the answer is not always a joint family. Why is it seen as “selfish” and cruel to want to live life on one’s own terms? I’ve always believed the best thing is to have adjoining or nearby flats – have your own lives and freedom and still be available for emergencies as well as day-to-day bonding.

    • My thoughts exactly. Women are scared of divorce.
      This will
      1. Increase domestic violence and let women accept to stay with the in-laws no matter what
      2. The parents will continue to think that the girl child will go anyway, so spend less money on a girl child
      3. Less education to a girl child
      4. Increase female foeticide

  11. http://www.womensweb.in/2016/10/valid-grounds-for-divorce/…. please read this as well and request writer to prepare and write without prejudice.

  12. I dont find any bias to any of the aforesaid judgement. The point of girls going to in laws were a point, and somewhere this belief has been modified by our more civilised society we live in. And its not about only the fact in india, this one used to be a regular custom throughout the world. So basically only thoughts of for the nationwide is simply vague. However, the ones who still believe that a married wife should be living with in laws, are a hypocrite and we should try to abolish such norms. That said, its pretty clear from the above verdict, that its just one clause on a son’s behalf, over a divorce, which we find from the case that has been filed. I hope there shall be numerous unfiled cases that has impacts on a girls side also, and it shall come forth and fight for the rights. One must not mix a practise that one follows irrespective of their wish and a decision/verdict passed in the eyes of law. I firmly believe, if such cases come forth, our law shall definitely lay down reforms. After all, the divorce act has been enacted with most of the clauses favouring women. So any unjunstice must not be appreciated. But if someone disagrees with this verdict and call it biased, to them, you are sarcastic and I request them to please do something about the cause rather just shouting over biasness. These social network can be your platform.

  13. Godrej Sachinwalla -

    We can be judgemental. Each case is different from the rest and we cannot generalise. There are circumstances which compels one to take a harsh decision. But I do feel that old parents on either side must be looked after and protected. we too are not growing any young.

  14. What crap! I don’t think this staying with in-laws is prevalent anywhere in the world anymore…not even is south east Asia or China…indians just look for convenience and inter-dependence. This joint economic equation totally sucks!

  15. Sab moh Maya hai bhailog…..today those women who really need a favourable judgement and justice are deprived and the crucked ones are the one who bag the sympathy of people….it’s the fact….admit it or not

  16. When a girl gets married and moves to husband’s house that’s norm. But there are cases when husband’s don’t allow wives to go visit her parents or siblings ( I’m talking years..of being away from them..pretext of stopping being we stay abroad who will cook etc) …isn’t that cruelty. It’s always been men first…but not for long.

  17. What about women who have only girl children…

  18. Very nice article.we all should think about it. In our society we all girls are treated like slaves. Childhood se hie boys and girls may difference kiya jata raha hai.girls ko sirf shadi k liye ready kiya jata hai.And boys ko sirf money making n old age may sahara dene k liye.we should treat both of them equally. Parents jitne son Ki responsibility hai utni hie daughter Ki bhie.in india 80-90% cases may girls sirf domestic help Ki tarah work Karti hai .jab unke khud k parents unko boys k equal treat nahi karte toh in laws kaise equal treat karenge.

  19. Very well put. So parents are to be take care by der son .it means dat every couple should have a boy cause girl should leave dem and go so no wonder why Indian families hog for a male child and we tell dont kill girl child give her birth any ways we.l harrass her in all possibl way like slow poison .root cause of all our social problems is our basic infrastructure of society and we r de one who got to change it by changing ourselves. Boys of present generation hold a greater responsibility in this regard .unless dey come out of der comfort zone and think about equality its very difficult to change it by us alone .it has to be done before all de smart girls out der decide not to get married at all 🙂

  20. As long as cordiality exists among all, such cases will never occur. Both me and my wife lost our respective fathers and I never ever prevented my wife from visiting her mother at any time and I too was equally free to visit my mother. Of course, it made it a lot easier since we all lived in the same city. It is indeed wrong for either spouse to enforce any “limitations” or “frequency of visits” of either parents. Both our mothers chose to live independently and we assured them that we were always there for them and all that was needed was a phone call in an emergency. In that sense our mothers were always at peace. As much as men need to break away from the “norm” that his wife now “belongs” to his house the moment the knot is tied, women too need to understand that a son still has responsibilities towards the welfare of his parents. He could be an only child or the only son and his parents do need him. I would also extend the same, if the wife was an only child for her parents.

    The woman in question (K. Meena) also need to realise that she too will have daughters-in-law one day and what if they prevented her sons from visiting her ? History would only be repeating itself !!

  21. And ya as few said above , how many of us girls hav filed case tellin dat we were forced to leave our parents after wedding . .!so no use blaming law of court .if somebody has to be blamed its only us girls for keeping our selfrespect as our last priority.

  22. I think this comment is not a fair criticism but a Contempt of the Apex Court. Dear Editor watch what is published specially when it relates to comment by the Apex Court.

  23. The proof of the pudding is in eating it! So I challenge all ladies who have objection to this judgement, to go to the court and seek divorce because their husband is not allowing them to meet their parents.
    If the court grants you divorce then the honorable court is proved to be unbiased and you will escape your savage husband.
    But if the court denies the divorce then the court is indeed proved to be biased and all your arguments in this blog will stand validated.
    So in either case you are the winner.
    Have the guts to accept this challenge???

    • Sumit, Bang on! I am sure court will consider it as a mental cruelty too….Indeed, it’s a cruelty if husband doesn’t allow his wife to met her parents.

  24. The two Supreme Court judges were men.
    That’s why gender biased decision.
    Where the women judges to balance out the hearing.

  25. Don’t marry at all. U stay with ur parents and let the guy stay with his parents. What’s the fuss?

  26. Agree Ruchi. And we need to take care of bog sets of parents. Not just the boys’

  27. ஏனோ உன் மேல் கோவம்! ஆனால் நினைவுகள் மட்டும் உன் மேல் நாள் தோறும்!
    உடல் மட்டும் இங்கே, ஏன் உயிரை உன்னுடன் எடுத்து சென்றாயடி;
    காதல் இல்லை கனவுகள் இல்லை இருந்தாலும் காலம் முழுவதும் காத்து கொண்டு இருபேன்;
    கடலோ அலையோ, காதல் வலையோ!
    மீனோ அவ்வலோ! சிக்கியவன் நானோ!
    கண்ணில் நீரோ வந்தது ஏனோ!
    உள்ளம் தானே துடிப்பது நீயோ!
    பிறந்தது எதுக்கு பிறப்பே அதுக்கு;
    மணமோ ஏங்குது பணமோ தூங்குது;
    இல்லை என்ரேன் இன்பம் கொன்டேன்;
    இருந்தும் ஏனோ துன்பம் ஏண்ணடி!
    சாதனை இல்லை சாகசம் இல்லை;
    சமரசம் ஆனால் இல்லறம் நன்ரே!
    கட்டியவன் இருக்க கரையில் நிற்கிறாயடி;
    நீயும் தாயோ நினைவில் கொள்ளடி!
    பிள்ளை குணம் ஒன்று தாய் மடி சாய்ந்தது;
    உயிர் சேர்ந்து உயிர் பிறக்க உதறியது ஏனோ!
    சேரும் தருணம் ஆணு இணைய பிறந்தது உயிர்!
    பத்து மாதம் நீ காக்க; காலம் முழுவதும் காக்கும் வேலியை காணாதது ஏனோ!
    பிறந்த வழி பார்க்காதே, இறக்கும் முன் நல் வழி அமைத்து விடு!

  28. What about the situation where parents dont want to live with son and daughter in laws, they want to live independent and enjoy their freedom. Would it amount to cruelty to son?? if parents have this freedom of choice to live as par their wish, then why not grant this choice to married couple too???

  29. Good article and completely agree to the main point made by you – that the highest court in our country has granted its approval to the fact that the insistence of separation from parents tantamounts to mental cruelty for MEN. For WOMEN it is the normal custom.
    I have read through the reactions of people to this post. I feel that the truth is somewhere between the two extreme points of ‘female killings’ and ‘what’s the big fuss’…A few facts from the case firstly:
    1) SC found that the wife had a issue with her husband spending his income on his other family members and hence wanted to live separately. No other reason for separating was given or found during this case. Plus the lawyer of the wife or the wife was not present for case hearing for more than a couple of times and the SC went ahead with the case.
    2) The couple have been living apart from more than 20 years. Hence court did not find it worthwhile to insist on their resolving the issue or refusing divorce. They were in all aspects , apart from the legal one, divorced
    Hence for THIS particular case granting divorce might seem to be reasonable to the SC. But what I still cannot digest is the fact of sticking to the argument of ‘Indian customs’ and ‘normal expectations from Indian wife’. I agree with some opinions which plainly ask – what is normal? who defines normal?
    I am also amazed at the so called solutions proposed :
    1) Don’t marry (actually if this current brazen attitude to women continues for long, girls might just agree to the solution). Where is the social structure going to go then?
    2) Its ok for women to separate from their parents as they KNOW it from the start whereas it is a shock to men when asked by wife after marriage

    Just because it is a custom, does NOT make a thing right or acceptable. Guys, you are not bringing a wife-cum-bahu-cum-maid in your home for everybody. You are marrying someone so that you can create a beautiful new extension of the family system that you are a part of. Stop taking a women’s acceptance and integration into the boys family for GRANTED. If it fails (God forbid, but it can!) it’s not her fault alone. It’s a collective failure. Don’t send her back to her house like a defective piece on a 15-day trail period. Now THAT’S cruelty.

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