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Low rate of divorce in India is due to mere lack of awareness. One such misconception is that a couple can only proceed with divorce after 2 years of separation!
India has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world. One of the main reasons for this is the stronghold of patriarchy on our society. Historically, Indian women have stayed reliant on their husbands for social security, finances and mobility.
Over the years, this notion has changed and women are leaving their homes to become entrepreneurs, teachers, government officials. However, a majority of Indians, especially in rural areas, still consider the role of a woman as a wife to be her most valuable one.
This is evident in Bollywood movies that show women playing love interests in plots that lead to them being married to the superhero. Even in the countless tv serials that only revolve solely around married women, it seems that marriage is seen as a greater social currency for women than any independent achievement of their own. This has negatively affected the perception of divorce as well.
Contrary to social myths, the law recognizes the ills of being stuck in an unsuitable marriage. The Indian law gives both the husband and wife to legally file for divorce and dissolve a marriage that has been proved unfit on certain grounds after 1 year from the date of marriage. This is a boon for women, especially those who feel oppressed, lonely or uncomfortable in a marriage.
There are typically two types of divorces mandated by Indian law under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Unfortunately, another reason for the low rate of divorce in India is due to mere lack of awareness. One such misconception is that a couple can only proceed with divorce after 2 years of separation. An underlying cause for this is the resistance of courts to end marriages and the societal notion that marriages should be made to last as long as possible.
In order to formally proceed with divorce, the courts first enact judicial separation. Basically, once the spouses file a petition and the order is passed, they are no more bound to cohabit. This is a mandatory period called period of judicial separation and gives time to the couple to resolve matrimonial disputes before the divorce proceedings start.
In the past, Section 10A of the Indian Divorce Act, 1869, required the couple to be separated for at least two years. However, Section 13B of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 only mandates 6 to 18 months of separation for the same or less, especially for exceptionally abusive or unsafe marriage or in case of mutual divorce, where both parties have proved incompatibility.
In India, the judicial separation period is typically for a period of 6 to 18 months, depending on the case. Following the end of this period, if the couple refuses to resume cohabitation, separation is then used as grounds for divorce.
It is safe to say that the law is quite flexible, especially when it comes to marriages, as there are still many aspects that have not been considered on paper. Each case addresses new complications and contests past notions. During this, as women, it is of paramount importance to keep ourselves well-informed and know our rights.
Divorce doesn’t have to be an end to things, but rather a liberation and passage into a fresh, new perspective towards life. It can unburden women and give them the peace and space to pursue new ambitions. Single mothers can raise their children in a healthier environment.
For this, the right knowledge and communication can make divorce a smooth and beneficial process for all parties involved.
Image source: Still from Ek Tukda Dhoop | THAPPAD, edited on CanvaPro
I am Ria from New Delhi. I did my Bachelors in Political Science and History and am currently pursuing my Masters in Political Science from University of Delhi and Postgraduate Diploma in Criminal Justice from read more...
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