Published: 14th March 2018
Call of duty: Do husbands expect wives to put everything on hold for the home?
Women in the country often ended up being overly dutiful under the tense scrutiny and pressure expected of by society
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.
- William Shakespeare, English dramatic poet (1564 – 1616) in The Taming of the Shrew.
Shakespeare talked about “fair looks” which in today’s language translates to “beautiful” which is the key word in matrimonial ads seeking brides. And Shakespeare listed things that husbands did for their wives. But, today’s husbands want their wives to be dutiful, doing domestic chores, no matter if they work full time outside the home and keep the domestic pot boiling. Not enough, says the modern husband who has a hierarchy of domestic duties for his wife and, if not done to his satisfaction, goes to court asking for a divorce - only to be rebuffed. But, first, the facts as reported by PTI on the basis of a judgment of Bombay High Court delivered on March 1, 2018.
A man’s plea seeking divorce from his wife on the grounds that she was not “dutiful” as she woke up late and did not cook tasty food has been dismissed by the Bombay High Court. A Bench of Justices K.K. Tated and Sarang Kotwal upheld an order of the family court that had dismissed the divorce plea stating that the allegations made did not amount to cruelty, and therefore, could not be a ground for divorce. The Bench observed that the wife of the petitioner was a working woman and yet, she was the one who had the additional burden of buying groceries, cooking for the petitioner and his parents, and doing all other household work. Therefore, allegations made by the petitioner that his wife did not cook tasty food, or that she was not dutiful could not be accepted as a ground for divorce.
“She did not cook tasty and sufficient food and she never spent quality time with me. On days that I returned late from work, she would not even offer me a glass of water,” the husband contended. The wife denied all the allegations and said that before going to work, she used to cook food for the entire family.
“It is difficult to believe that the respondent (wife of the petitioner) was constantly abusing and threatening the petitioner and his parents. It is further the Appellant’s (petitioner) case that when he used to return home late, the respondent failed to cook well or take care of his needs. That again cannot amount to cruelty,” the Bench said.
“One can’t lose sight of the fact that the respondent herself was a working woman who, in addition to her job, had the additional task of cooking each morning and evening, of buying vegetables, and groceries on her way home from work,” the Bench said.
Beyond the judgment, the subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response, within 250 word, should be emailed to email@example.com before March 20.
(John B Monterio is a lecturer who drifted into writing and Journalism. He has authored three books and is the founder of the Bondel Laughter Club in Mangalore )