Denying sex to spouse on first night ground for marriage annulment: Delhi high court

“It is not that the husband had sex with his wife only about 10-15 times from the date of his marriage within a period of five months, but the wife’s cruel act of denying sex to the husband especially on the very first night and then not to actively participate in it even for the said limited period for which no contrary suggestion was given by the wife,” the court said. [ link ]

I am only discussing the underscored part.

So it is cruel of a wife to be unwilling to have sex with the husband on the first night?

And it is considerate and humane to expect an inexperienced young woman to be eager to actively participate in an intimate act with someone she has probably never met before?

Probably someone she is not permitted to choose, and once chosen by the family, she generally gets to meet/know only on the wedding night? Seeing that he expects her to actively participate, possibly someone who has learnt about sex from the kind of porn that the Karnataka ministers were caught watching in the Assembly? [link]

Indian men (and women) are discouraged from learning about sex through sex education. They are culturally expected to see sex as something women do not want and something men always want. Movies and society seem to see a disinterest in sex as natural for a woman of high moral values, modesty and virtue. Indian movies are full of such scenes.

Ignorance and lack of knowledge about sex in women, is romanticized, even glorified. [link]

One also hears about how Indian men do not want to marry  the ‘kind of women’ who can be persuaded to sleep with them without marrying them and traditionally women eager to have sex are seen as deserving of suspicion and derision. There is almost no discussion about about sensitivity towards a  woman’s feelings, or understanding her reluctance, nobody seems to care because she is also supposed to announce ‘the good news’ and produce a male heir within a year of being married.

We even romanticize the ‘not knowing what to expect‘ of the ‘first night’. We make light of and joke about the easily avoidable and very valid apprehensions that a couple might have.

1. Beauty Parlour. You just don’t know what to expect.

2. Tattoo.

3. About expectation from one of the partners to know everything although they are not openly encouraged to learn. It seems how much he knows about sex has to do with how much of a mard a man is.

Women also might believe that is is natural for a real ‘mard’ to have no consideration for their feelings.

4. Fevicol… Cringe worthy? Men can’t help being men?

Related posts:

Romanticizing innocence, chastity and related taboos for women.

Many of us view watching porn as a harmless activity…

177 thoughts on “Denying sex to spouse on first night ground for marriage annulment: Delhi high court

  1. I do support the high court gave the correct judgement. If sex was removed out of picture, there is no point of a arrange marriage. Love is out of question, sex starving has much more deeper consequences that just merely mood swing. Many people are sex-phobic and what is left in such a marriage?

    //Probably someone she is not permitted to choose, and once chosen by the family, she generally gets to meet/know only on the wedding night?//
    That is the biggest flaw in the concept of marriage itself, atleast this judgement can now open the eyes for elders who force marriage on their kids.

    Yet even though the underscore part was unfortunate in the judgement, the entire judgement was based on many factors and not just the first night. So even though the underscore part was the trigger, the judgement was not based on only that.

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    • @Sid

      Basically this is like forcing you to have sex on your wedding night whether you like it or not. You know what that is called? RAPE.

      I understand that sex is important for marriage. But is it absolutely necessary that you have sex on your wedding night? What about if you are tired (because of the wedding planning, travel, etc.), sick or just really apprehensive about sex? Considering that we don’t have sex education in our country and that pre-marital sex is a taboo, I bet many people would be very apprehensive about their first time.

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      • //Basically this is like forcing you to have sex on your wedding night whether you like it or not. You know what that is called? RAPE//
        No no you are getting it wrong. The judgement is not about sex on first night. The first night thing is a symbolic gesture of submissiveness. Sex on first night is not physical but its a mental bonding, My point is, if the bride (or the groom for that matter) are not mentally prepared for whats coming then, why get married in the first place? Thats my point.

        //I bet many people would be very apprehensive about their first time.//
        You are taking it to the extreme level. The relation between husband and wife is much more complex, it is the relation over which cultures have been formed. So even if they are not prepared on the first night, mental they should be willing to let their partner into their fears, their thoughts. If the wife or husband shuts himself off and puts out of bound things for the other. Why marry? Stay single.

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        • How a person in his/her right senses can let a STRANGER into his/her thoughts and fears? No self-protective instincts? I don’t think it happens.

          “Sex on first night is not physical but its a mental bonding”

          Could not disagree more. Sex is PRIMARILY about opening up physical boundaries. Mental bonding is this: time between getting to know a person and going to bed with him/her. Being physically ready is as much an issue as developing trust and understanding.

          Neither can happen overnight in a context of a healthy longterm relationship.

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        • What excellent advice. I’ll give it to the girl who has absolutely no say in her marriage plans, and whose parents deal with the entire business. I am sure it will benefit her greatly.

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        • “/Basically this is like forcing you to have sex on your wedding night whether you like it or not. You know what that is called? RAPE//
          No no you are getting it wrong. The judgement is not about sex on first night. ”

          The judgement is not entirely about sex on the first night but part of it does concern sex on the first night and this part of the judgement can be taken as a precedent in future judgements and hence is important.

          “The first night thing is a symbolic gesture of submissiveness. Sex on first night is not physical but its a mental bonding, My point is, if the bride (or the groom for that matter) are not mentally prepared for whats coming then, why get married in the first place? Thats my point.”

          Do you mean the wife submitting to the husband? Why should anyone be prepared to “submit” unilaterally? One would hope that the entirety of marriage is not about wives submitting to husbands.

          “//I bet many people would be very apprehensive about their first time.//
          You are taking it to the extreme level. The relation between husband and wife is much more complex, it is the relation over which cultures have been formed. So even if they are not prepared on the first night, mental they should be willing to let their partner into their fears, their thoughts. If the wife or husband shuts himself off and puts out of bound things for the other.”

          What is so extreme about anyone being apprehensive about having sex with a person they barely know? It’s completely normal. In fact, in Arun’s comment, he points out that many men are apprehensive too.

          What makes you think she didn’t let her partner into her thoughts? Maybe she did and he still didn’t respect her apprehensions. Even if she didn’t vocalise it, it would be pretty obvious that she would be nervous.

          Just because something is culturally expected – in this case that near strangers have sex enthusiastically the night of their wedding – does not mean it is logical or even desirable.

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        • //Sex on first night is not physical but its a mental bonding.My point is, if the bride (or the groom for that matter) are not mentally prepared for whats coming then, why get married in the first place?//

          I cannot believe that Indian social conditioning has led one to believe that sex is actually mental, not physical. Most people(Indians probably more..again because of our social conditioning) grow up to believe that bodies are a very private section of them. And there is nothing wrong with that. How on earth could revealing one’s body/discussing about one’s body to a practical stranger actually be called mental bonding?How about mentally bonding by say.. talking about interests, opinions, dreams?
          People get married to establish a relationship with someone else and that is all they need to be mentally prepared for. If they are not ready for that, then maybe the question “why marry” makes perfect sense.But not being prepared to have sex on the first night has got nothing to do with one’s readiness for marriage.

          Seriously, I really cant believe that this is what social conditioning can do.

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        • @Sid, By what stretch of imagination are you using the term “mental bonding” to the physical relationship that happens between strangers on the first night in an arranged marriage?! I am really shocked that such ideas are entertained by the educated youth of today!

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        • Ok everyone on the list let me clear 3 points I mentioned above.
          1. My point is, even if the girl/guy was forced, married to a stranger. The fact that they did not do anything to oppose it before, so now they have to deal with the fact that they are married. End of story. My point was, if you are not prepared to get married, don’t. Jyada se jyada mental torture ya emotional blackmail hoga. Might even die in the process, but thats fine.
          ou
          2. If the person (and here I mean guys and girls both, for those who do not know performing on first night is as over whelming to the guy as to the girls) is not physically ready or whatever, they should be ready to show some level of trust, understanding to the other. You cannot trust someone u do not know over night, but deal with the fact that the person is on the bed because of his/her choice (they caved in to pressure) so, be understanding of the partner who had no role in forcing the marriage on you.

          3. If the person is not interested in physical manifestation of marriage while the partner is, what is the point in staying married? The polygamy laws in the country are strict, aldultry won’t solve the problem, there is risk of getting disease in alternative means. Point mean, physical part is essential in being an adult. Ab the land of kamasutra does not have decent sex-ed class is an irony in itself. So staying married to a sexually active partner is cruel beyond control.

          I do not say it is wrong in not having physical desires, there are many reasons for that. Understandable, adults can indulge in physical activities only until their late 40s, beyond which pressure increases and so do tablets.

          Also those really think guys learn from porn, let me tell you, have known many guys who are terrified by watching porn. The pressure of performance and size is tremendous, many guys turn to bullying others (criminals, dons and dacoits) just because their size is very small (its a known psychological effect) The point being, guys also face the pressure of first night. And porn does not help anyone.

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        • @thebride
          //The judgement is not entirely about sex on the first night but part of it does concern sex on the first night and this part of the judgement can be taken as a precedent in future judgements and hence is important.//
          As i understand the judgement about first night was only used at the end. But as I do not know exactly what the judgement was, I read only what was in news articles, I do not comment on it.

          //Do you mean the wife submitting to the husband? Why should anyone be prepared to “submit” unilaterally? One would hope that the entirety of marriage is not about wives submitting to husbands.//
          No where did I use the word wife submitting to the husband. It was presumptive, my words were gender neutral and frankly, for a couple to reach extreme, both should submit to each other.

          //What is so extreme about anyone being apprehensive about having sex with a person they barely know? It’s completely normal. In fact, in Arun’s comment, he points out that many men are apprehensive too.//
          It is normal yes, but they should be prepared for being apprehensive. I never supported the concept of arrange married but the fact that it is done and is a costly affair, the couple should deal with the fact that the stranger is with them forever. For better or for worse.

          //What makes you think she didn’t let her partner into her thoughts? Maybe she did and he still didn’t respect her apprehensions. Even if she didn’t vocalise it, it would be pretty obvious that she would be nervous.//
          If she did and still this happened, then it was a sad part on the system. However as I understand, she refused to submit also she raised a issue about dowry a few days back. If I am profiling her correctly, she was sex-phobic (but I can be wrong)

          //Just because something is culturally expected – in this case that near strangers have sex enthusiastically the night of their wedding – does not mean it is logical or even desirable//
          It is culturally expected and the fact that many do not find it desirable shows extreme erotophobia, I won’t judge them, however anthropologically a healthy sex life is essential for adult experience. The stranger part is a cultural norm and because many people cave in to the pressure, I do not see the reason why they should crib about it. (Don’t take it personally, I hate those who do arrange marriage, there is no clinical term for that)

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        • The fact that they did not do anything to oppose it before, so now they have to deal with the fact that they are married

          So why did HE not “deal with it”?

          She didn’t have a strong sex drive. He should have dealt with that, shouldn’t he?

          If sex was so important to this guy, what prevented him from discussing it before he got on a white horse and participated in all the ceremonies?

          If the person (and here I mean guys and girls both, for those who do not know performing on first night is as over whelming to the guy as to the girls) is not physically ready or whatever, they should be ready to show some level of trust, understanding to the other. You cannot trust someone u do not know over night, but deal with the fact that the person is on the bed because of his/her choice (they caved in to pressure) so, be understanding of the partner who had no role in forcing the marriage on you.

          Are you serious?

          Good god, man, if you are not ready, you are simply not ready!

          You do not “trust” the other person, you do not share mental space with the other person, you do not think about irrelevant stuff like who forced you and who did not and you do not “deal with it”.

          If you feel you are not ready, YOU DON’T HAVE SEX until you are.

          It really is as simple as that!

          Let me repeat it for emphasis.

          If you feel you are not ready, you MUST NOT have sex until you are.

          There is not so much as a shred of evidence that the wife withheld sex from her husband just to be cruel to him.

          She was scared, for heaven’s sake.
          What in the name of good god happened to such things as common decency? What kind of man considers it cruel that she did not let him have sex with him in such a state?

          Do you even realize that you are effectively condoning marital rape?

          As a married person in an arranged marriage where your spouse is not comfortable being intimate with you, it is your RESPONSIBILITY to make your him/her feel comfortable. It is your job to BUILD trust, not EXPECT trust from the get go, as though trust were something that could be built in a second as per one’s whims and fancies.

          . If the person is not interested in physical manifestation of marriage while the partner is, what is the point in staying married

          Please do us all a favor and read the judgement.

          There is no evidence at all that she was “not interested in the physical manifestation of marriage”.

          The husband CLAIMED this was so, while the wife denied it, and the court had no way to check.

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        • It appears that you think that an arranged marriage is just a way to get sex-on-demand.

          Your thought processes are frighteningly simplistic. You seem to be under the impression that most men’s “equipment” can perform on demand.

          It’s WAY more complicated than that.

          I think you’ve never been in a long-term relationship and do not understand the intricacies of sexual attraction and repulsion.

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        • My friend knew her hubby about 5-6 years before she got married to him. She still was bit jittery about sex for the first time after wedding. She had expressed her feelings to me as she wanted to vent and feel bit better.
          Why I narrated this? see for a girl to perform sexual act for the very first time even with a man she has chosen and love immensely is not easy if they had no physical relationship before marriage and meet more as bestest friends.
          I am sure subsequently all those jitters went away :-)

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      • @Intercultured
        //Mental bonding is this: time between getting to know a person and going to bed with him/her. Being physically ready is as much an issue as developing trust and understanding//

        With ‘mental bonding’ i mean, a person should be mentally prepared on what is coming up. OK you got married to a stranger or were forced, the point being. For both guys and girls, have the deal with the fact that now they are married, Even if they are not physically prepared and not ready, they can atleast open up with the other. Developing trust and understanding, both of them should be prepared for that, exactly my point.

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      • @Shail
        No, you have read my blogs, you know what my ideols are. My choice of words was bad, let me try clearly the point and see if I make any sense.
        1. Arrange marriage/ in bed with strangers: I agree this is a bad practice in our country, however if the couple have accepted to the fate, they have to deal with it. The partner has not forced the marriage on them but their own family has done it. So, they have to be prepared to accept that there is a stranger they have to live their life with.

        2. Mental Bonding: My point was marriage is done, so it is culturally expected for couples to perform. Maybe one partner is not ready, he/ she can discuss this with the other person in form of trust. A marriage cannot succeed if one of them shuts himself/ herself from the other about fear, phobia. So with mental bonding, I mean preparing oneself to trust a stranger, most couple I have seen are not ready to deal with the fact that they are getting married off to the stranger. That was my point. Makes sense? Now performing on the first night is symbolic and even if someone is not prepared, they have to accept the fact that some point in the future they have to come to terms with their fears for the marriage to succeed.

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        • @Sid,
          /”however if the couple have accepted to the fate, they have to deal with it.”

          And having sex is the only way of “dealing” with this so called “fate”? Just WHAT is stopping the couple to enrich their experience and improve upon their “fate” by giving some time to get to know each other? Why not become comfortable with each other and in a few days (if you have waited this long, can’t you wait for a few days more?) start having sex? You agree that both the partners may be apprehensive. So isn’t it to their advantage that they remove that apprehension before physical intimacy? Isn’t it as clear as day? And yet your words imply that it is somehow pre-ordained that the couple SHOULD have sex on the first night itself. Pray, WHY should it be so? Your only solution of “dealing with it” is giving in on the first night. Is it some one-point programme with no other options available?

          //”The partner has not forced the marriage on them but their own family has done it. So, they have to be prepared to accept that there is a stranger they have to live their life with”//

          Come on Sid, that is what has been going on for centuries. It is nothing new you are suggesting about accepting living with strangers. That is exactly how my life started too, with a stranger. So I should know the acceptance part of living with a stranger.
          The point here is does “acceptance” mean that the man HAS to pounce on the woman on the very first night? Acceptance works both ways. These two people are going to spend a LIFETIME together. So WHY does the man not accept that the stranger that is his bride MAY need time? Sex is an intimate act of togetherness between couples. But why is it impossible to accept that a bride on the first night is NOT a prostitute ready and waiting for a customer?

          /”so it is culturally expected for couples to perform.”//

          Just WHAT is culture? Something unchangeable, fixed? And believe me it is NOT “culturally” taboo to be considerate of the partner in an arranged marriage whatever this ‘cultural’ expectation to perform is.

          “Maybe one partner is not ready, he/ she can discuss this with the other person in form of trust. A marriage cannot succeed if one of them shuts himself/ herself from the other about fear, phobia”

          I don’t know if you have really asked around. But I will tell you tales I have heard. Out of the stories heard 99% of the men simply overrode the fears expressed by the brides. So what good did not shutting oneself do? Now that exactly is the point. Men take sex in marriage as entitlement, whatever fears women have, no heed is paid to it. THAT is the whole point here.

          You cannot call this phobia in the true sense. It is about partners making each other comfortable, bringing an atmosphere where sex is conducive
          This is marriage, a partnership.So it entails on BOTH the partners to FIND OUT how the other is feeling, make each other comfortable and to go into a relationship with that understanding. One of the partners CANNOT plead ignorance of the others fears. It is their duty to create a conducive atmosphere for sex, not jump on the other regardless, on the assumption that that is what they want too. Assumptions like that have NO role to play in relationships just because it is an arranged marriage, ESPECIALLY in arranged marriages, where there are practically two strangers coming together.

          If at all one partner takes pleasure without bothering how the other feels, then that person is only looking for sexual release. Any person who wants sex regardless of the way the partner is feeling, SHOULD HAVE MADE CLEAR BEFORE MARRIAGE that all they want from marriage Is sex. The onus is on them, because marriage is something more than sex..

          //”Now performing on the first night is symbolic and even if someone is not prepared, they have to accept the fact that some point in the future they have to come to terms with their fears for the marriage to succeed.”//

          WHY?!!!! For the life of me I cannot understand why you think they have to come to terms with fears for a successful marriage. There are TWO of them in this venture called marriage and they address the fears together, the fears go off. THAT is what a successful marriage is.

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    • @biwo
      Not sure if this was for me

      //It appears that you think that an arranged marriage is just a way to get sex-on-demand//

      but if it was, let me be clear. I absolutely hate the concept of marriage, let alone arranged or anything.

      And if u got that from my comment, m a bit confused of what i wrote myself. o.O

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      • @Sid

        “/What makes you think she didn’t let her partner into her thoughts? Maybe she did and he still didn’t respect her apprehensions. Even if she didn’t vocalise it, it would be pretty obvious that she would be nervous.//
        If she did and still this happened, then it was a sad part on the system.”

        Whether she did explicitly say it or not, it could be safely assumed by anyone with have a sensitive cell in his head that she would be nervous on the first night. Therefore, at least for the first night, and first months in fact, I think the husband could have exercised some common sense, understanding and restraint.

        It’s ironic that the world over young people are advised to get to know each other and get comfortable with each other before having sex – and that would ordinarily mean more than a few months – but just because this couple was married they’re expected to have fireworks in bed in a few months.

        I think it’s quite a stretch to diagnose her as having erotophobia. The man claimed that she was like dead wood when having sex. For all you know he may have been a poor performer himself, incapable of arousing his partner. There have been studies that have shown that most men and women have no idea that women could have an orgasm during sex. So by your logic, half the human race would be suffering from erotophobia.

        The problem with the case is that the man accused her of refusing him sex and the woman didn’t respond much to his allegations – quite possibly she was embarrassed – and the court therefore sided with him.

        “Now performing on the first night is symbolic and even if someone is not prepared, they have to accept the fact that some point in the future they have to come to terms with their fears for the marriage to succeed.”

        So are you saying that “performing” on the first night is mandatory? If so, that is where I disagree with you most. It may be expected but it defies logic. From vishwanathjee’s comment below, you can see that even people in a different generation do not think it is mandatory, sensible or desirable.

        Moreover, even if something is the custom, does not mean the courts have to condone it if it amounts to cruelty. Many of us think that forcing a woman to have sex to a near stranger on her first night amounts to cruelty. Yes, maybe she signed up for it – how much free choice a woman has in this situation is debatable and it is society that has to finally take responsibility for placing women in these situations – but people who sign up for cruel acts can be forgiven for at the last moment feeling they cannot go through with it, especially when they may not be given a true picture of what it is.

        For example, sati was customary but would you say to a widow who got all dressed up and went willingly up to the fire but at the last minute decided she’d rather not be burned alive… no no, you signed up for it now go sit there and burn?

        If I got you right, your take on the situation is that the whole concept of marriage, and particularly arranged marriage is stupid so anyone who gets into it should live with their stupidity. My point is that there are parts of these systems that are useful and parts that are not and we need to root are the parts that cruel, and one would hope that the courts would support that instead of reinforcing the nonsense status quo.

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      • @shail
        Let me share some links with you about age 40. Its physical responses, beyond our control.

        But I don’t understand, after all said and done, why would the lady want to stay married to the person? O.o. I am confused with that

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        • @Sid, I can share links with you that says the opposite, Life does NOT end at 40+ sexually. :)

          I don’t know if the latter part of the comment is addressed to me. If it is: Personally I wouldn’t remain with a man who wants to divorce me, whatever the circumstances. It is my guess here it is the desire to remain a ‘married’ and not ‘divorced’ woman because the latter comes with a stigma? I have a friend who stays separately from her husband. She will not give him divorce either. The reason she told me was that a divorcee is not respected by society. She merely wanted to retain thet ‘married woman’ tag for the sake of safety and society.

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        • @Shail
          No No, i did not mean it ends, I mean it reduces. Lets not get into biology of things

          //I have a friend who stays separately from her husband. She will not give him divorce either. The reason she told me was that a divorcee is not respected by society//
          This is actually a sad part on your friend, but don’t want to be judgmental here and I will say she was lucky to find a husband agreeing to this arrangement. Considering if he is caught cheating or anything he can get in jail for 20.

          // It is my guess here it is the desire to remain a ‘married’ and not ‘divorced’ woman because the latter comes with a stigma? //
          Yes and it is a sad plight, however in my experience stigma is a subjective thing and actually no one cares. But thats my personal view.

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  2. I was wondering if you were going to blog about this.

    Read about it late last night.

    I do not, for a moment condone the idea that not having sex on the first night amounts to “cruelty”, and having read the judgement in full, I think it was a bit ridiculous. It is a completely different matter if one of the partners willfully denies sexual contact for a prolonged period, as a passive-aggressive measure. In that case, there may be some merit in alleging cruelty.

    But there is NO evidence of any such thing here. The husband merely alleged that his wife was “not responsive” and that this caused him mental anguish.

    What rubbish!

    And that’s not all.

    Have a look at the full judgement here.

    The summary goes like this:

    In matrimonial cases, more often than not it is a
    challenging task to ascertain as to which party is telling truth as
    usually it is the oral evidence of one party against the oral evidence of
    the other. What happens in the four walls of the matrimonial home
    and what goes on inside the bed room of the couple is either known to
    the couple themselves or at the most to the members of the family,
    who are either residing there or in whose presence any incident takes
    place. Whether the couple has had sex and how many times or have
    had not had sex and what are the reasons; whether it is due to the
    denial or refusal on the part of the wife or of the husband can only be
    established through the creditworthiness of the testimonies of the
    parties themselves. Consequently, the absence of proper rebuttal or
    failure of not putting one’s case forward would certainly lead to
    acceptance of testimony of that witness whose deposition remains
    unchallenged. In the present case, the testimony of the respondent
    that the appellant was never responsive and was like a dead wood
    when he had sexual intercourse with her remained unrebutted. It is
    not thus that the respondent had sex with her wife only about 10-15
    times from the date of his marriage within a period of five months, but
    the cruel act of the appellant of denying sex to the respondent especially on the very first night and then not to actively participate in
    the sex even for the said limited period for which no contrary
    suggestion was given by the appellant to the respondent in his crossexamination. The respondent has also successfully proved on record
    that the appellant did not participate in the customary rituals of dud
    mundri and that of chudha ceremony, which caused grave mental
    cruelty to the respondent. It is a matter of common knowledge that
    after the marriage, certain customary rituals are performed and the
    purpose of these rituals is to cement the bond of marriage. The
    question whether there was a refusal on the part of the respondent
    not to perform the ritual of dud-mundari and chudha ceremony is
    difficult to be answered as on one hand, the appellant has alleged that
    she had duly participated in the ceremonies while on the other hand
    the respondent has taken a stand that there was refusal on the part of
    the appellant to participate in the ceremonies. No doubt the testimony
    of the respondent has been supported by the evidence of his father
    and there is no corroborative evidence from the side of the appellant,
    although her brother had accompanied her in doli and in such
    backdrop, adverse inference thus has to be drawn against the
    appellant for not producing her brother in evidence who could be the best witness to prove the defence of the appellant alleging her
    participation in the dud-mundari ceremony. Undeniably, these
    customary ceremonies are part of the marriage ceremony and refusal
    of the same that too in the presence of the family members of the
    husband would be an act of cruelty on the part of the wife. The
    appellant has also failed to prove any demand of dowry made by the
    respondent or his family members as no evidence to this effect was
    led by the appellant. The appellant herein also filed criminal
    complaints against the respondent and his family members and later
    withdrew the same. Undoubtedly, it is the right of the victim to
    approach the police and CAW cell to complain the conduct of the
    offending spouse, however, frivolous and vexatious complaints like in
    the present case led to cause mental torture and harassment to the
    respondent and his family members. Thus, taking into account the
    conduct of the appellant in totality, this court is of the view that the
    same amounts to causing mental cruelty to the respondent.

    One of the crucial aspects of the case was apparently that the wife had not participated in certain rites, and had expressed her disdain for them in front of the husband’s parents. The court finds that this amounts to “grave cruelty”.

    I think this finding completely defies rationality.

    How, pray, is it cruel to not want to participate in a ceremony that you do not believe in? How come it is not cruel to forcibly make such a person participate in these ceremonies?

    The only thing I can see in favor of the husband is that an apparently frivolous complaint was filed with the police. It is plausible that this caused mental anguish to the husband and his family.
    But that is all.

    The other reasons it appears to me, are the sheerest baloney, and exceedingly unfair to the woman.

    Finally, despite my opposition to the reasons of the judgement, I think the saddest part of all of this is that this wife even appealed a divorce petition. She has not lived with her husband since 1992, for god’s sake! 20 years!
    I cannot imagine what benefit she thought she would have gained by staying “married” to him.

    Truly a sorry state of affairs.

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    • It’s about time we started legally terming any reason for a divorce as “irretrievable breakdown”. Really it’s none of the state’s business why a man wants to divorce his wife or vice versa.

      Just make sure that property division, maintenance and child support are implemented correctly.

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      • I second that. I don’t think it is the state’s business either if a couple want to separate. It is only the other things like child support, property division etc that need proper attention.

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      • With the amendments to the Hindu Marriage Act and Special Marriage Act, I think we’ll be seeing many more divorce petitions filed on those grounds (irretrievable breakdown).

        As it is, many people who file for divorce in India have started to resort to legal fiction (like the husband faking adultery, in cooperation with the wife) to get a timely judgement, even when both parties agree to all the terms. Obviously, this is not desirable. Perjury should not become commonplace.

        In Canada, the vast majority of divorce applications are based on “irreconcilable differences”, even though it is possible to get a divorce on traditional grounds (like cruelty and adultery). Most people don’t want a protracted legal battle; they just want to get the decree and move on.

        About the only time people are advised to resort to traditional grounds in most western jurisdictions is when the settlement is very large (if your spouse has been abusive, it’s hardly fair that s/he gets 50% of your assets) and/or there is strong disagreement on the terms of the divorce (especially when it comes to corollary relief – the exact amount of alimony and custody/access rights to children).

        I suppose we’ll be witnessing a move towards that sort of system in India
        as well in the near future, at least amongst the urban, educated crowd.

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        • As a law writer for Colorado law, I can affirm that the ONLY ground for divorce in most US states is “irretrievable breakdown”. Regardless of the circumstances, the state doesn’t accept any other reason – neither infidelity or “sexual problems” etc. The state doesn’t care why you want a divorce…if a couple wants to separate then that’s that.

          Domestic violence etc are criminal offences in themselves and don’t have any bearing on divorce proceedings.

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        • I think one can probably make a fair case for that kind of thing. Irretrievable breakdown pretty much covers everything. It is an all-encompassing remedy.

          It also helps avoid the conundrums that continue to appear in the system.

          Adultery, for example, has been the subject of a fair bit of debate in the Indian legal fraternity. HMA, 1955 allows men to obtain a divorce based on the fact that the wife has been adulterous. But Section 497 of the IPC explicitly points out that while adultery is a crime, the woman cannot be treated as an abettor.

          So in effect, the law provides a kind of civil remedy to a man against an adulterous wife – thereby recognizing her as an abettor – but the penal code specifically points out that the woman is always to be treated as a victim, and not as an abettor.
          Quite apart from the fact that I think it’s ridiculous to make adultery a crime, this is a contradiction in terms.

          There really is no reason why things like abuse and adultery cannot come under the banner of irretrievable breakdown.

          Having a single reason would probably simplify the process a bit.

          Still, the irretrievable breakdown of India is not yet the same as that of the West. I don’t know about the US, but in Canada, if one party says there is an irretrievable breakdown, their assertion is accepted on its own merit, as long as the couple have stayed apart for the mandatory one year. In India, the amended law still requires both parties to prove in court that their marriage cannot be repaired.

          I have no idea how one might go about “proving” such a thing. It’s going to make for a lot of judgement calls.

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    • Beating women, kicking them, raping them and killing them for dowry — these are not acts of “grave cruelty” but a woman refusing to participate in religious ceremonies certainly is.

      Not addressing you here PT. I am just completely bemused. How did they infer mental cruelty from “refusing to participate in ceremonies”?

      By that yardstick, every atheist in the country is causing “grave mental cruelty” to religious folks of every stripe! :)

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      • I think the “auspicious” time to have sex is thrown in as part of the bargain. Sometimes first nights are manipulated and do not happen on the same night due to this factor in very religious households. Besides, there are a lot of rituals of bringing the girl back home after the first night for blessings and what not, so yeah, I think it amounts to a clause.

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        • It must have been so for many (not all) communities in the past with the astrologer giving a ‘muhurat’ for the first night too. But now the astrologer’s role is limited to the time of wedding, at least it is so in my part of the world.
          Besides which I was being sarcastic :)

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        • This is my opinion but arranged marriages must go away! People should get to know each other and maybe even live together before considering marriage. That’d save everyone involved a lot of heart-ache. And once that happens, idiotic things like sex on the first night would go away – it’s up to the couple to decide if they want to do that (since it won’t be their first time). It’d just be like a special occasion like a birthday or an anniversary where they may take a romantic night out.

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        • Having sex 10-15 times in 5 months is about twice a month…ie – once every two weeks. Far from ideal maybe but I’d wager that is what a large proportion of married couples end up with anyway.

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      • The article quoted is from TOI, one of India’s worst if not the worst online newspapers. They just stressed on the sex-on-the-first-night-of-marriage part of it, but if you read the entire article it seems they didn’t have sex for five months after getting married. Whatever be the reasons for that, that does seem like a justifiable reason for a divorce (whether it was the husband or the wife denying the sex doesn’t matter).

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        • It is a shame that women are forced into these marriages. I cannot fault them for not wanting sex even after six months. However unfair it may be to the husband, she has a right to not sleep with anyone she doesn’t want to. Of course, in that case divorce is a good option, I suppose.

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        • That is incorrect.

          The husband claimed that they had sex only 10-15 times in the first five months, while the wife flatly denied this, and claimed that they had a “normal sexual relationship” for the said period. She also claimed that she never denied her husband sex at any point during that time.

          The trial court found that the version of the husband was more credible and trustworthy than that of the wife (the reasons for this are not mentioned in the High Court judgement).

          It was never claimed by any party that there was zero sexual contact during the five month period.

          On April 16, 1992, five months after getting married, the wife left the matrimonial home for her parent’s house and did not return. The husband claims she left the house of her own accord, while she claims that she was forced to leave – the final judgement offers no comment on this apart from recounting what they said in their statements.

          The main grievance of the complainant was not that there was no sexual contact but that she had denied sex to him at times, and that her denial especially on the wedding night, as well as her denial to participate in various rites amounted to mental cruelty. The judgement points out that the latter two points were repeatedly stressed by the counsel for the respondent (the husband).

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      • Shail, I have to say this here. My friend is getting married in december. It is an arranged marriage. She is SAD because her period days clash with her wedding and she cannot have sex on that day. I am talking it out blunt but she actually whined about it. She has met this guy for only 15 minutes during the not-so-formal bride seeing ceremony.

        I think, it is a social condition, a god damn mind set that one should do it on the first night, esp in arranged weddings.

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    • OMG to the power of infinity…Though they live now…guess they didnt see Jodha Akbar ;) (especially when we seem to be learning from movies and not from observation of human behaviour or science)

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    • OMG to the power of infinity, in my mind. I guess they didnt watch Jodha Akbar, :P especially we Indians are learning from Movies how to BE rather than from observing human behaviour or studying the science of it…Maybe we should screen the movie as part of Social Work.

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  3. Just want to share something here. Right after I got engaged, my mother gave me a book on sex, not Kamasutra, but something similar. I don’t remember the name. She adviced me to read it thorougly so I could be better informed and prepared for my ‘first night’ and the ensuing nights :D. There was a span of 5 months bet my engagement and wedding date, in which period I read the book and discussed it with my then-fiancée-now-husband and believe me it really helped me find answers to a lot of my apprehensions-which I am sure soon-to-wed girl is bound to have, gave us both an insight to the concept of sexual intercourse. And to date I am grateful to Ma for that book and and the timely advice.
    So what I am trying to say is, i think it won’t be such a bad idea if parents were to make an open-minded talk with their children a practice to ensure they didn’t have any illusions or inhibitions about what ‘sex’ is all about. High time the term ‘sex’ was struck off the list of taboo subjects!

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    • Makes so much sense Deeps!

      How is someone who knows nothing, expected to actively participate in a very intimate act with someone she has never met? And if there are other stressful issues, along with an ignorant but demanding partner, that can only aggravates the trauma.

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      • Absolutely IHM! And not just that, many times its assumed that when a husband wants to have sex, the wife would automatically want to too. Why? There is every possibility that a wife may not be in the mood at the same time. Why cant that be acknowledged and respected? In the above mentioned case too, it could have been a possibility…there might have been instances when the girl was not interested in having sex around the same time her husband wanted to. The way I see it she could have had just as good a reason to file for an annulment on grounds of ‘not respecting her wish’. Hypothetical I know, but plausible isnt it?

        Why is the wife’s act of denying sex and not actively participating in it considered cruel as against the husband’s insisting on having sex when she doesn’t want to?

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        • And not just that, many times its assumed that when a husband wants to have sex, the wife would automatically want to too.

          Actually, nobody in traditional India believes that a woman could – or should – enjoy sex. Ever.

          It is assumed that the wife NEVER wants to have sex, only the husband does.

          Therefore, no one thinks about such things as the wife’s mood.

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        • “It is assumed that the wife NEVER wants to have sex, only the husband does.”- its a grave misconception is what I can say then, for women have desires too, just like men. And as long as they are treated a)sensitively b) with respect c) as an equal participant in the act, d) not forced upon…then they too can enjoy sex. And yes there are days when they may not be in the mood, during such times what is needed is the assurance that they are free to say NO…and not being tagged ‘cruel’.

          **Didnt see a ‘reply’ icon on PT’s comment hence replied through my own comment :)

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      • “How is someone who knows nothing, expected to actively participate in a very intimate act with someone she has never met?”

        That’s the thing that really gets me about the arranged marriage system(okay, one of the things). My guess is that intentionally keeping people in the dark about sex (lack of sex ed in India) is how this system has continued on for so long. Men are probably picking up tips from porn (which is sad) and the women have no education to know that they are getting porn sex/bad sex. Coming from the same caste does not equal to sexual chemistry! But I guess no one cares about that, or else these marriages wouldn’t be happening.

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  4. There wasn’t a comment a few minutes before! :O I was going to say “first” :(

    I was nodding my head throughout the article. So true.

    Society acts like it is a female “duty” to have sex with her husband, whether she wants it or not. I am sure any man who agrees with this feels “entitled” to ask for it whenever he wants it at home. Either that, or he is a hypocrite. We Indians manage both jobs remarkably well.

    I think that for majority of Indian woman, sex is something they do not enjoy- there was a survey a few years back in which majority of women had no idea that females could. I can imagine them giggling and saying, “aisa bhi hota hai kya. hamare yaha to nahi hota.” or “hame to sharm hi ati hai” as if all this is funny and praise worthy.

    For women like these, who are in majority in India, sex will be a minor inconvenience, something they never want- for them, what this women did will be a act of cruelty. “itti si to baat hai” I won’t be surprised if the judge’s wife is one of those women.

    For example, I once told my ex that I read books published online that qualify as “porn”- they are written by women and from a female perspective and for women. I accidentally discovered them and whatever I know about sex, I know from these books! When I was young, I used to think people didn’t actually kiss each other- that they faked it only on screen!!!!

    I don’t understand these kind of men. From what my ex used to say, the idea of a woman doing it out of duty was really revolting and damaging to his sense of self worth. He said it was enough to put him off! But then again, most women pretend, don’t they? And most couples in India do not have any understanding between them- they just follow gender roles.
    How sad their lives are! They do not even experience love in their lives- it is all a sense of duty! There is duty to your parents, relatives, husband, etc. Everything they do is because they are supposed to be doing it. [Usually, of course.]
    Sad situation. :(

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    • Yes.

      There are always those awkward moments when you hear or read something about “matrimonial duties” in a verdict and you cringe right down to the innermost cell.

      Duties. For god’s sake.

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    • I think there are also men whose sense of self-worth would be damaged if they discovered that their wife was NOT doing it out of a sense of duty.

      They would then think, “If she enjoys it with me, who’s to stop her from seeking other men?” From there it would be a short mental step to accusing the wife of adultery and “grave mental cruelty”.

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  5. In most arranged marriages first night is a day of marital rape. Ideally couple should wait for sufficient time to get to know each other.

    I get lot of Guy patients worried about their sex ability coming for consultation days to weeks before the day of their marriage. I tell that it is just their anxiety and physically they are
    fine. I will also tell them never to try
    sexual intercourse the first day itself before knowing ur spouse well.
    The reasons cited for the judgement was unfortunate. Hope some one will challenge the wordings.

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    • And what if you get to know your spouse well and it turns out that you still don’t want to have sex with that person? What if you discover you don’t find this person trustworthy, attractive, or in any sense compatible?

      Just because two strangers are married it doesn’t mean that they are bound to find each other sexually attractive at a later point of time. In most cases, at least one of them will need to do it out of “duty”.

      People in India can pretend that they can mix and match everyone according to their wishes. But they can never cheat nature. Some people are just never gonna work as a couple in a biological sense. Sexual attraction is not something you can fake.

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      • I agree with you. I agree so much that I practically jumped out of my chair when I read this.

        Being from the same caste does not mean there will be sexual compatibility.
        Having the same “collective” mindset does not mean there will be sexual compatibility.
        Chemistry isn’t made. It’s a natural thing.

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    • I agree with Arun. Here when we should be sensitizing people about the reprehensible “marital rape” happening on the first night, it is being justified and upheld!

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    • Now that you put it in that way, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised with the judgement.

      The dear old law commission has, after all, twice rejected a proposal to remove an exception in Section 375 of the IPC which allows men to have sex with their wives against their will – basically rape them.

      Apparently, it was thought that this would amount to “excessive interference”.

      That tells you about the mentality of part of the legal fraternity in India. Unfortunately, many of these dolts are in positions of power.

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      • That made my skin crawl. Shaming a wife publicly for not having sex-on-demand is not “excessive interference” but allowing a husband to rape his wife is?

        As you said in a previous comment, these men should be put in “orange jumpsuits” and be the “unofficial wife” of some prison bully.

        Hopefully, they understand rape then.

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    • I read about this last night. I agree with you on the marital rape part. It sounds like a wild jungle scene between a big cat gnawing and eating away a deer.

      Although sex is a part of marriage, I feel it should happen only when the couple are comfortable with each other.

      It is no wonder that we are such a populous nation, because this judgement has been entrenched in people’s mind since ages. It is only now that a respected judicial court has come up with such a judgement and I hope it is not cited in other cases.

      On the other hand, I know a woman who was married to an impotent man. He had a first marriage and the first wife applied for divorce on grounds of his impotency. He got married again and the second wife had no knowledge of the grounds of his first divorce. The in-laws started harassing the second wife to bear a child and the man just stood silently. Both the in-laws and the man know about his impotency. The woman was working and the in-laws went around town telling everyone that she was incapable of bearing a child because all she cared was about her work. When the woman spoke about this to the man’s family, they coolly told her that she should be a woman and not openly speak about these things and it looked as if she was sexually starved.

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      • I hope it is not cited in other cases.

        A hollow hope.

        Call me cynical, but I am dead sure that this will be used by every two-bit rapist who wants to force his wife to have sex with him and finds himself rebuffed.

        While a divorce may well be the best thing ever to happen to women who end up married to such men, the fact that such ideas are validated like this is a clear indicator of the fact that we’re not as different from the Taliban as we’d like to pretend.

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  6. And guess there was a slight comment outrage when I made a remark on this under one of the recent posts.

    Sex is an integral part of marriage. But what is marriage? Or rather, what should it be? In its real sense it’s a union of people who love each other, who are attracted to each other physically and emotionally, and who entered this marriage willingly, without external pressure. Marriage is a start for a new family unit where people want to aim in the same direction and they try to achieve their goals together.

    Arranged marriage is not this type of a union. It’s artificial. It lacks the core ingredients – love and attraction. It is full of external influences – financial, social, and most creepy – parental. Sex on the first night with a stranger? No wonder some women say no. Natural protective instinct – unless you are a fan of one night stands (because this is the first comparison that comes to mind) – which I’m guessing is not a common female fantasy in India.

    Add to this complete lack of any sexual education, lack of basic knowledge about anatomy and the reproductive system. You have a full picture.

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    • Agreed. First night sex as practised in arranged marriages smacks a bit of prostitution to me, especially with the money exchanging hands during the wedding. It amazes me how society expects a “shy, chaste and innocent” bride to allow herself to bed a comparative (or absolute) stranger.

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    • I think the worst part about these marriages is not that they’re artificial. The worst part is the set of attitudes they represent.

      The fact is, arranged marriages are INHERENTLY unequal. The inequality is built into the system, and the system propagates it, by pressurizing people to live these outmoded, script-written roles in life.

      If something doesn’t work, it’s always the woman’s fault, and it always comes down to what SHE didn’t do right. She is supposed to do what the husband wants. Her own feelings don’t matter.

      The system is simply not flexible enough to change with the times. It is still based on ideas that would make a 1960s Republican from Texas cringe.

      Ten years ago, I was agnostic about arranged marriages, although I was sure I’d never have one myself. Now, I’m militantly against them, because I’ve seen the amount of misery they can cause and the kind of attitudes they help to spread.

      The day choice in marriage becomes the norm in India, will be a day when we will see huge changes for the better.

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    • Even in a one night stand, the partner is the choice of the individual.

      Honestly, the first comparison that comes to my mind is rape. I’m sure (and I hope) there are some arranged marriages that happen between people who are at least mutually attracted to each other. Maybe the ones where they spent awhile getting to know each other…but as for the others…chemistry and physical attraction just don’t magically happen just because someone has the title of “wife” or “husband”. There is a big push to wait for wedding night, and to have virgin brides because if most people knew what they were really missing out on (good sex, loving sex, actually being so turned on by someone that you can’t wait to have sex with them!) the days of the arranged marriage would be numbed.

      Ignorance becomes the opiate of the people.

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      • if most people knew what they were really missing out on (good sex, loving sex, actually being so turned on by someone that you can’t wait to have sex with them!) the days of the arranged marriage would be numbe[re]d.

        Yes, indeed!
        Never a truer word spoken.

        I do not believe that most people (male or female) who have had the chance to experience romance proper, would ever want to go back to the old, stilted system.

        In fact, I think the days of arranged marriages are already numbered, at least among the educated lot. It’s just a matter of time, really.

        Increased social mobility and orthodox, feudalistic customs simply do not mix well.

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        • Right. Forcing (either physically or with pressure) people to get married to people they don’t know takes away the chance to experience so many beautiful things about being human.

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      • It’s not even about sex. Loving sex can be intensely satisfying emotionally too.

        It’s very difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced love just how wonderful being “in love” feels.

        It is doubly difficult to explain to people whose idea of sex is mechanical, unemotional, “fumbling in the dark” sex how joyful a union of two bodies is when it is out of love, not out of duty.

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    • “Sex is an integral part of marriage. But what is marriage? Or rather, what should it be? In its real sense it’s a union of people who love each other, who are attracted to each other physically and emotionally, and who entered this marriage willingly, without external pressure. Marriage is a start for a new family unit where people want to aim in the same direction and they try to achieve their goals together.”

      Actually this definition of marriage is a very modern one. The history of marriage is that it is more a legal union for specific purposes – often economic – that cement clan ties and where the needs of the clan are more important than that of the individual.

      It may be your and my opinion that marriage “should be” different but it is apparently not the court’s opinion in this case and the judge seems to be harking back to the old, more established definition of marriage.

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      • Western countries treat marriage very seriously in its legal sense. Your marriage is always registered. You get a marriage certificate. Married status influences your tax returns, health insurance, pension plan, mortgage and many more – something that in India is not even mandatory, not to mention anyhow standardized.

        Legal seriousness doesn’t mean that marriage is treated like a financial contract between two families where a connection between bride and groom is only ARBITRARY.

        Inherently wrong – thats’s what characterizes the definition of marriage in India.

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        • “Legal seriousness doesn’t mean that marriage is treated like a financial contract between two families where a connection between bride and groom is only ARBITRARY.” That was the way it was in the past… even in the West if you read up on the history of marriage. It changed with the industrial revolution and the rise of individualism.

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        • The Bride,

          Yep, and that’s what you call social progress. At least in the West you can see that it’s not 18th century anymore. Even though, there is so much more that could have been achieved!

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        • Agreed. So I guess we’ll get there in India… eventually. The kind of economic conditions that give rise to this form of family unit are only just coming to India after all.

          Though I also think that there is a lot of idealism and a great deal of optimism in the definition of marriage in the West and in modern societies in general – that one’s partner be all things and fulfill all needs – and this has led to the failure of many marriages. This article says what I’m trying to say better: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14248803

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        • Idealism and optimism are Indian domains – it is Indians who brag about about low divorce rate, not even giving it a thought how many of those “great” marriages are forced or simply unhappy.

          In the West it is pretty clear that the success of your relationship depends on no one else than you and your partner. And if you both screw it up, you have only yourselves to blame.

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    • @Intercultured

      I did not mean this to be an Indian vs. Western culture debate. I’m sure idealism, optimism, ethnocentrism etc. exist in all cultures. I just wanted to point out that the move from arranged marriages to suit the interests of the clan to an individualistic conception of marriage are part of the natural progression of most societies and so we will get there in India.

      The court, with it’s judgement, has clearly not got there. Someone below commented on how the judgement might be based on the idea of couverture, which is a concept from Western marriages in the Middle Ages. In India, the economic structure is very feudal in many parts of the country so the family structure also mirrors this – I’m not saying I advocate this, just explaining why it might be so.

      The idealism with regards to the modern concept of marriage which originated in the West but is prevalent in the modern sections of Indian society too that I was referring to is the idea that one’s spouse can satisfy all physical, emotional, mental needs etc. – the idea of a “soulmate” as it were.

      Have you read Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence? It describes arranged marriages, the very rigid social hierarchy in 1920s New York and how marriage was used to maintain that. Elizabeth Gilbert’s On Marriage also traces the history of marriage in a very readable non-academic way. The article I linked to also gives some sense of the history of marriage and why the notion of a soulmate as one’s spouse is idealistic and optimistic.

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      • Western societies are not problem-free. And I guess anywhere in the world it takes time for people to see what is holding them back.

        Arranged marriage is just the tip of the iceberg in the ocean of problems that people simply don’t want to face. The problem in India is not that it takes so much time to change anything, it is that people don’t see anything wrong with how things work.

        And not being able to admit that certain things have to change is the most difficult stage to pass.

        I know there are parts of society in India that exhibit a lot of liberalism and reasonalble attitude towards the most pressing issues. But they neither have an inspiring power to convince the rest of the society to join them, nor are they numerically able to significantly change social trends.

        And that is sad.

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        • @DewDrop
          //WTF is ‘symbolic’?! Who the heck is it to symbolic to?!//
          Well with symbolic i mean is. See in arrange marriage two people barely talk to each other or mean. (I am assuming here) so it is understandable that both have no idea about each other. When we are faced with the unknown the mind reverts back to the safety policy, which can be even some wrong ritual being done by the parents. Its nature can’t help it.

          //Where does this lovely society of ours (and clearly the law is in cahoots with them now) get off telling two people how to go about their private business? And why should anybody go through with something purely because it is ‘symbolic’?//
          No nobody should do it because it is symbolic, but it is ok to assume if not one but the partner can be expecting (doesn’t mean the wife or husband should submit to other forcefully). Now the business is not private between the two when one of them approaches the courtroom. Does it? I don’t think the man rushed to courtroom without thinking about it, being divorced he also would be facing the consequence after that.

          //Sati was symbolic too wasn’t it? Should we bring it back then? And if you really say you’re against arranged marriages, ‘hate them’, how about you go through with one anyway, because, you know, it is so ‘culturally symbolic’?//
          Naa not in this lifetime, arrange marriage I believe is a cultural anomaly and not at all symbolic. However it would be interesting to know that first night after marriage has been honeymoon for over ninety centuries.

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  7. There is more then meets the eye.. Here reading the full report a lot points and many go against the lady here .. Although I am not that clever but it is there to see.

    As asked by another commentator why did is she appeal, why wud ahe still want to be married ….

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  8. The respondent has also successfully proved on record that the appellant did not participate in the customary rituals of dud mundri and that of chudha ceremony, which caused grave mental cruelty to the respondent.

    What the F***! And what about the actual cruelty that the woman is expected to participate in useless humiliating rituals in the first place? How about addressing the cruelty that she had to leave her home and go to his? How do they plan to compensate her for the cruelty of rituals that designated her a property of one man or the other? This is pure bunkum, and if you ask me, the lady is so much better of without such a silly man. In fact, I do hope she compounded her “cruelty” with a few hard hitting slaps.

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  9. Interesting post-i agree fully with Arun that sex should not be forced upon the bride on the first day or even during initial few days till the couple has reached a certain level of understanding & faith…merely going by the needs of a guy who has been starved of sex is inhuman,unfair & irrational to say the least.

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    • “on the first day or even during initial few days till the couple has reached a certain level of understanding & faith”

      What if they never reach any level of understanding, faith, whatsoever?
      What is the guarantee that after a month, a year, a decade, they will be any closer in terms of physical/ emotional/ personal compatibility?

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      • My guess is that people just settle and become complacent at some point. Maybe they think this is what marriage is? And then they go on to teach their kids the same thing.

        Eventually the joy of bitter people becomes making others equally miserable.

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        • From what I have observed marriages in India are pretty much about tolerating one another and developing mutual respect on the verge of a pity for both parties.

          People live together, have sex, have kids – realizing after years that they did all that because ‘it was expected from them’, not because they wanted it.

          And then as they become old and see that they have no chance to re-do things, they envy every little happiness. So they try to sabotage every opportunity of their own kids to fall in love, be independent, be happy.

          Looks like a revenge delayed one generation.

          This is the only reasonable explanation I find for why people remain such fanatics of arranged marriage.

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        • Intercultured, you’d be surprised at how many parents actually care about caste, and remain stubborn that their child will only marry one of “their own”. They don’t really feel miserable about their own marriages, because their expectations of marriage are negligible (financial security, a good sperm count), and they couldn’t care less about love, attraction and all that “tosh”. They genuinely believe they’re acting in their child’s best interests and keeping the blood line of their grandchildren “pure”.

          They don’t know how good marriages/relationships can be, and don’t care. When a friend’s boyfriend broached the idea of marrying someone of a different caste, he got asked sarcastically if he had “caught” someone. So of course, since he loves his parents yada yada, he broke up with his girlfriend, and will eventually marry one of his princely caste.

          Makes me want to throw up.

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  10. I have come to believe that marriages encourage forced-sex. Even if one of the partners do not want to engage in the act, they may have to do it because there is some level of coercion from their partner. This can happen to people of both sexes at various stages of the marriage.

    Destination Infinity

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    • Yup, I think most married people will discover that there is some element of having sex when you are not entirely up for it. Actually, there’s a lot of doing many things when one is not entirely up for it in marriage – why should sex be sacred? There are, of course, rewards to these compromises and it should be up to the individuals involved whether they want to make them.

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  11. I cannot even EXPLAIN how many illogical things are included in that one statement.
    1. A girl is in strange surroundings.
    2. She is expected to have sex with a stranger.
    3. She is expected to “fully participate” in an act about which she isn’t supposed to have any knowledge.
    4. She is expected to not have any knowledge of sex AND be eager about it.

    Come OOOOOOOOOON. Haven’t we been taught about “Stranger danger”????

    Now coming to more personal things, when I was having my first period, my mom told me not to tell anyone, cuz otherwise people will think I am too mature for my age. When I started asking about the changes happening to my body, she told me that only prostitutes need such knowledge. When I naively wanted them to meet my boyfriend, she told me that I have lost all character, and that he would certainly just “use and throw” me. Of course, this was in my 2nd yr of college, and by then, curiosity and freedom had made me a porn addict. And yes, girls watch porn too. I wanted to see everything that could be done with two bodies- knowledge I wanted only because it was forbidden fruit. I had to struggle for four years before I freed myself from that addiction. But, I am glad to say that I never lost respect for myself or other women. Usually, porn just riles me up when people in them behave in a sexist manner.

    Now, coming to point 3, I also expected my boyfriend to be an expert in matters of sex. But, we soon found out that we both weren’t mentally ready for the act yet. Five years later, we are still virgins because we don’t wanna force anything. Soooooo, not all men are sex-crazed. And this is when we are living together. It took him almost an year to drill it into my socially-conditioned head that he is NOT a superior being. He is just like me, and maybe I would be better at sex theoretically from having watched so much porn. Ya, he didn’t judge me or anything.

    People would do well to role-play as women in some village for one month before making such sexist and illogical statements.

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  12. This is infuriating. So, till women get married, they are encouraged to be docile, not know anything about sex and not interact with the opposite gender.
    The moment the wedding is over, they are supposed to have sex the first night, ignoring how tired they are with a stranger. This is worst thing ever.

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  13. It is unhealthy to expect a woman to fulfill all her duties lest she disobeys her relatives,so called society, etc. Mind set of the Indians is very archaic,almost obsolete ,past expiration date.what about the man’s duty towards his wife?

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  14. Just got back and read your post and all the comments so far.

    I don’t think the judgment is legally flawed. May be a divorce is best for this couple. But it is clear that the judgment was not based on just the woman’s unwillingness to participate in the sex act on the first night. There were so many other valid reasons.

    But I do agree that not wanting to have sex on the first night cannot be called cruelty.
    The wife is innocent on that count.

    In fact I have always believed that the first night is perhaps the worst night to start sexual relations for a couple in an arranged marriage. Both will be tired after the excitement and the non stop chain of activities during the day. As bed time approaches, suggestive looks and hints and leg pulling by close friends and relatives all add to the couple’s nervousness. Curious relatives (that includes giggling girls) might be having their ears to the door, waiting to hear sounds of creaking mattress springs. ( I remember a hilarious scene in a old movie Piya ka Ghar, starring Jaya Bhaduri and Anil Dhavan that illustrates this peculiar situation well)

    Getting away from it all during the honeymoon and then slowly commencing this new relationship after proper mental preparation is what I believe is best. Most of my friends who confided in me have admitted that the first night was clumsy, amateurish and a disaster and no where near the experience that porn movies or Bollywood Suhag Raat scenes might have led them to believe it would be.

    But in this case if the woman did not want sex for five months thereafter, it is clear that she finds her man sexually repulsive. I sympathise with both the husband and wife. A divorce is an obvious and right end to this kind of relationship and thus I feel the judgment is okay.

    I would have no sympathy for the woman if she insists on not participating in sexual relations but opposes a divorce. That is not fair to a man, however repulsive he may be sexually to a woman.

    Regards
    GV

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    • I would have no sympathy for the woman if she insists on not participating in sexual relations but opposes a divorce. That is not fair to a man, however repulsive he may be sexually to a woman.

      What if she opposes the divorce because she is afraid of societal backlash against her? As I’m sure the man will not say that the woman finds him repulsive, hence her request for divorce.

      And why is it just assumed that only the man wants sex? Woman might want sex too…..with someone she cares about and is attracted to.

      Title of “husband” title of “wife” does not guarantee sexual attraction, chemistry, or good sex!

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    • Fair enough, GV jee but we have to take into account the kind of social indoctrination our society gives us, especially women.
      Lots of women I know are taught to find sex repulsive and the idea of doing it is just abhorred because that is what our society tells you.
      No sex education and on the wedding night, what does everyone tell you? – Listen to your husband. Let him do whatever he wants with you. WTH?!
      Also I have asked a few and they all tell the same thing, we have to do it because he wants it, no other choice. I hate that reasoning. We women have no other choice. What can we do? Really.
      And they freak you out with pain stories. Every other person, if they ever end up telling you (nobody gives you a clear idea, something fuzzy and indirectly said), they speak of pain for an entire week and no enjoyment.
      Seriously, when you have such a mental block against it, you have never even touched a guy, then how can you just let him enter you and most guys just want to do it, like this is the moment they have been waiting for years, a sex slave who cannot say no, according to the society after marriage. They do not care to make the woman comfortable, just jump on her. Then yes, after years of social indoctrination and an uncaring partner, no woman would want to do it.
      Does the guy treat her well out of bed? Is it possible in joint families? With respect? Does he help her? If he is emotionally detached then and lets his family boss her around, then approaches her only in the night for sex, no woman would want to do it.
      The wedding preparation is draining by itself, and so stressful for the girl, looking at her parents spending the money on her like she is some burden along with all the pujas and blah blah and they expect the woman to get up early next day coz she is the wife and serve everyone, I doubt anyone wants to have sex with a guy under that circumstances, even if they knew him well.
      It is the woman’s body, her vulva but why does society lay claim to it and insist it not be used unless it is by its rules? Woman need to claim their bodies, it is our own but we are controlled as if we are animals and cannot do what we want when we want with our bodies.
      Sorry for the rant, I am not criticizing you and I guess I have deviated from your comment a lot, but yeah, i just needed to rant and get it off me.
      Maybe I shall make a post of this after a few more interviews with people :)

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        • Thanks, I think I need to ask women some uncomfortable questions before that ha ha.
          The claiming bodies things is actually inspired by something I heard/read by Betty Dodson, who definitely has helped me change the way I view my body and makes me realize (and angry too) that our society control what women do with their bodies instead of the women themselves!

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      • @sos, you have said it as it is! I am waiting for your post too.

        “They do not care to make the woman comfortable, just jump on her.” How uncaring and degrading it all is. And a comment above suggests it is ‘mental bonding’! :roll:

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  15. Seriously, of the many dos & donts I had promised myself when I get married -one of them was not to get into the act on the first night. Ofcourse, I was also the typical one with no sex education etc and whatever I understood from movies, books, friends, etc I felt that it obviously din’t make sense to force it on your to-be wife! ( assumption ofcourse- the arranged marriage). It just seemed plain common sense to me!

    Ideally, atleast in the arranged marriage environment it should be more encouraged than condoned.

    I thinks slowly the state is getting more and more into our personal lives! That should better be mind their own business..

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  16. Of course it has been cruel to the man.. Ever since he was a teen, with raging hormones this id the thing he must have been waiting for.. His suhaag raat.. The day he finally gets to meet his woman and get intimate with him.. But then again, it isn’t he alone against whom the cruelty has been put through… Look at the girl.. All her life she has been told to behave her self, and control her interactions with guys (which should be supervised at best).. And then one day you expect her to get married.. Teach a girl to stay away from strangers for all her life, and then make her sleep with one.. Sigh, we romaticize the wrong things.. Of course she will be apprehensive, and scared of it.. The ideas and scenarios we put up about the first night.. From the most pleasurable to the most horrific..
    Sex is supposed to be fun, to be intense and passionate, to be intimate , and to be between the couple.. It is not the bother of the rest of the world.. As long as they are doing something consensual the rest of us should stay the hell off..

    Now it is obvious that things are not working between the couple and they took the logical step of splitting. So instead of being bothered about how the divorce goes through justly for the parties involved, people are/will be bothered about why she didn’t let him have sex with her. The legal fraternity says it has been a cruel thing.. Cruel indeed, and for the both of them.. So we should take about who exacted this cruelty upon them. Who is responsible for ruining for this relationship for them? Is it the couple? or is it the people who brought them up like this, who expected things from them? like having sex on the first night.. Sigh .. We don’t ask you about sex life, don’t ask about ours..

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  17. I just read the TOI article, and some of the comments from people below. One comment in particular caught my eye. It was an exchange in which one commentator said something like:

    “And what happens if she never falls in “love”?Just asking….given our Indian custom doesn’t encourage dating culture.”

    Next person said:
    I”m not even talking abt dating! can she not fall in love with her husband after marriage?

    Followed by:
    “And how much time do you think it takes, he gave her 2 months.”

    Wow. First, what does happen to people who don’t “fall in love” after the marriage? I also wonder if this type of “settled” falling in love is ever comparable to falling in love and then marrying someone of your choice. At which point does a person become complacent because they know that this is their life?

    Second, the comment about the two months makes it seem as if the author thing making a marriage is like baking a cake. Actually that is a good comparison…I see it like this:

    “Arranged Marriage Cake”

    Add 1 parts same caste
    to 4 parts parental approval (use standing in society as a base)
    Wisk in Half a stick of dowery (might be removed if parents are feeling a little modern)
    to 2 cups of socially conditioned children afraid to stand up to the parents
    Mix in pretty dresses, and big fancy wedding
    with a dash of guilt, fear and helplessness.

    Toss cake in a hot oven of societal pressure. Wait about 50 minutes….remove from oven. Eat as if it’s the best damn cake you have ever had, if it’s burnt and bitter.
    *Most important part: Encourage others to make and eat this cake too. Please don’t tell them cake doesn’t taste good.

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    • “I also wonder if this type of “settled” falling in love is ever comparable to falling in love and then marrying someone of your choice. ”

      Why? One might grow to love someone after the fact of marriage and it could be – and has been in many cases – equally strong and powerful a bond as the ones shared by those that loved before.

      You seem to have a problem with the idea of “settled”. I think the idea of “settled” becomes a problem if you subscribe to the idea The One, a concept reinforced by romcoms. The only problem with “settling” as I see it is if you settle for something that makes you miserable. But if you settle for a husband that has his flaws but has his positives as well, which in time you come to see, then so what?

      I think most marriages involve some amount of settling – though we might prefer to call it something more palatable – at some point. Maybe in arranged marriages, the appearance is of settling before the marriage has even begun though some people might find their Mr. Perfect through that very system.

      The problem with using “arranged marriage” as a blanket term and opposing it is that there are so many kinds of arranged marriage now. Yes, there are arranged marriages where two strangers meet for the first time on the day of the wedding and there are arranged marriages which are closer to the Western concept of blind date and there are arranged marriages which are somewhere in between. The only thing I would oppose is if the marriage is forced.

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      • I agree. I have seen many happy and equal “arranged marriages.” It’s like dating, with family and friends taking the initiative to find people for you to date.

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      • The Bride,

        Wouldn’t you say that there an arranged marriage, almost by definition, contains an element of coercion? What makes an arranged marriage arranged? Without going into specifics, one could say it is the fact that someone other than the protagonists makes crucial decisions on their behalf.

        It would be a stretch to call a proper blind-date based marriage “arranged”, even if the first meeting is set up by the parents. If there is no pressure from the parents at all, and if the choices are all made by the couple themselves, it is essentially no different from a classical choice marriage, albeit with a slightly unorthodox first meeting.

        Not really an arranged marriage.

        However, I think that the pressure to marry IS there. I may be wrong, but that’s what I think. And if the pressure does exist, it is just another form of the kind of arranged marriage many of us are opposed to. Force does not have to be physical – emotional manipulation is usually far more effective, far more socially acceptable and far more common.

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        • PT,

          I think the difference between an arranged marriage – any kind – and a so-called love one would be that the end goal of the arranged one is marriage. My parents had the blind-date kind of arranged marriage – common friends who knew them both independently felt that they might be suited and introduced them, they went out together for a while (I think a few months), liked each other and the rest is history. The difference from just a blind date would be:
          a. Both parties kind of understand that they are looking for a life partner not just someone to date. If they don’t like each other, they go their separate ways, but if they do decide to pursue it, the intentions are clear on both sides.
          b. The friend who introduced them is somewhat sure of the character and suitableness of both parties, and there is a little more pressure on that person than would be a regular blind date set-uper. Also once they decide to get hitched, the families start doing some background checks which doesn’t happen in the regular blind date. Therefore, there is an element of arranged there.
          Actually, my cousin recently had a similar arrangement. He wanted to get married but didn’t feel himself capable of finding someone through the regular dating scene and so requested his relatives to look out. Once they met and liked each other they went out for dates etc. and finally got married. If they decided they didn’t like each other, they could have ended it.
          I wouldn’t say there is coercion in these scenarios but there is pressure because:
          1. You’re meeting knowing that marriage is the goal. This would seem weird to me – because I’m not into marriage for marriage’s sake – but I know people now in their mid-30s who have the same intentions and are in the regular dating scene.
          2. The families are involved at the beginning or the middle stage. This is not ideal but it’s the consequence of opting for searching for a life partner in this way. And there are many people who find this mode useful. I had a friend from Mizoram who was complaining that in her culture that there was no arranged marriage system so if you couldn’t find someone for yourself, the community had no system or tradition of assisting.

          So, yeah, there’s pressure but again, not necessarily pressure in every arranged marriage that one cannot deal with. I know people who fell in love on their own who faced similar pressure from both sides of parents to get hitched.

          I would disagree that an arranged marriage is only one where someone other than the protagonists makes the crucial decisions on their behalves. For me, it’s characteristic a. and b. that I mentioned. And then there’s a sliding scale of how much the family is involved and how much pressure there is, so there would be arranged marriages where the couple have little or no say.

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        • I agree. I think the pressure makes all of the difference. Meeting a spouse via family or friends, isn’t really a big deal. But when family and friends pressure the person to marry a certain person, or marry by a certain time, basically when all of these important decisions are not yours to make, I think that is wrong.

          It’s wrong to emotionally manipulate anyone into doing something against their will.

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        • Okay, a fair argument.

          I do suspect, though, that the anti-arranged marriage crowd here (myself included) aren’t really talking about the relatively benign form that YOU are talking about.

          A question more of semantics than ideology.

          As long as the protagonists have a good measure of freedom to make their own choice, and perhaps more importantly, to reject proposals made to them, I don’t see anything wrong with family members helping them along.

          As well, while your friend from Mizoram was probably being flippant, I hope you did let her know how lucky her society is to be free from the kind of blatant, out-in-the-open patriarchal traditions which are practiced in North India (I don’t know if it’s the same in the South).
          From personal experience, I can tell you that it really, really sucks to be from that kind of background, even if you are male and supposedly privileged.

          I’d take too little social assistance for marriage over too much social assistance any day of the week.

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        • @PT, couldn’t reply to your comment below, so replying here. The kind of arranged marriages that you are talking about also exists in the South.

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      • “Why? One might grow to love someone after the fact of marriage and it could be – and has been in many cases – equally strong and powerful a bond as the ones shared by those that loved before.”

        Key word: might.

        What happens if you don’t grow to love the person? And is “growing to love” a form of settling? I think so. Why bother settling and growing to love someone, when you can pick someone who already loves you, and you love them?

        Initially passion always fades, but it’s up to the couple to keep the fire going. When you love someone, you work to keep it going. It’s a mutual act of love. To love someone and have them love you back is the greatest gift. To chose a person to be with for a lifetime is special. You get one life, what happens if you never grow to love? Why waste time settling?

        Personally, I wouldn’t want to play Russian Roulette with my love life on the off chance that I might grow to love someone. But hey, to each their own.

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        • @PT The friend from Mizoram was actually serious. She had a hard time finding someone on her onesome. She finally did…and then both the families got together and started the pressure to get married and everything continued as per traditional patriarchal patterns.

          Yes, I know most of you are using the term to describe the most extreme form of arranged marriage. I am simply pointing out that there are other forms and that they seem to serve some purpose. Throwing out the entire system altogether might be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But yeah, I’m okay with only the most benign form of arranged marriages as I described and only for some people. People like me are not suited to it.

          Marriage itself used to be an extreme patriarchal institution and still is mostly. But there seems to be ways to make it more egualitarian. Maybe the same is possible with the arranged thing. Keep what’s useful and prune the rest.

          @American Woman

          You’re comparing having an arranged marriage vs. finding your soulmate and getting married. But what about the third scenario – one which seems to beset so many people… not being able to find anyone. If I look at my contemporaries, many of those actually asking their parents to arrange a marriage for them are in the third category.

          “What happens if you don’t grow to love the person? ” Then you part ways. Just as you would part ways if you fall in love and then grow to not love the person. That happens often enough.

          What happens fairly often though is that the parties do grow to love each other. You may find it hard to believe and say it’s not real love, but there is some arrogance in thinking only one definition of love – the kind that starts off as great passion – is valid. There is a chapter in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book on marriage where she talks about exactly the kind of arranged marriage that many are dissing now – an old couple down her street in the US who married for reasons of business convenience desgined by their families, a common enough practice at the time but who, in their old age, their devotion and caring for each other through serious illness, could not be anything other than love.

          “And is “growing to love” a form of settling?” Yes. And I see nothing wrong with it. As long as one is reasonably happy in what one has settled with. What you call “working to keep it up” may also be described as “settling”. The only difference is that in one form of settling one fell in love before while in the other one well in love after. There is a mechanism of choice and fantasy involved in loving someone and this can be activated even in an arragned scenario, as long as the person

          “Why waste time settling?” Well, one might waste a lot of time searching for someone to NOT “settle” with also. And as I said, I believe everyone settles… in the end.

          Yeah, I believe a person like me needs to have the narrative of grand passion to fuel me through the difficulties of marriage. You may be the same. But what I realised is that my maid, who got married to someone arranged by her mother, did not need that narrative. What she wanted was: a. to get married b. to get married to someone whose background checked out. c. to not have to go through the whole rigmarole of the dating scene (this is not how she put it but what I gathered from talking to her). Both of us are very happy in our marriages, arrived at through diametrically different routes. I realised that my maid would not have been suited to my narrative – the kind of “love marriage” narrative you are advocating for everyone. And that there are many people like her.

          So I believe that: a. People shouldn’t have to get married. Not getting married is fine. b. If they do want to get married, they should be free to choose whatever mode suits them. That might be finding their own partner, or it might be roping in the family – and the extra pressure that brings – to find their partner c.the final decision of who one wants to get married to should rest with the couple and it would be good if they had some time before to get to know each other (how long though would be subjective… I myself decided I wanted to marry my now husband in a couple of months and we had a long distance relationship thereafter) d.after they are married, they need not stay married if they are miserable with each other and efforts to resolve things don’t work.

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        • I don’t think there is anything wrong with someone choosing an arranged marriage if that is what they want. Keyword being choose. Your maid sounds as if she wanted to have an arranged marriage, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. I hope her love grows, and grows because she chose to be in the situation.

          Where I have the issue is with couples that were forced (and by forced I mean physically, or emotionally coerced) into getting an arranged marriage. In my opinion, mommy and daddy forcing a spouse on someone does not really set the stage for the growing to love, but it is a good start to living a settled and complacent life.

          For me, it’s all about having the freedom to chose the route that is best for you. Whatever that may be. When people are forced and emotionally manipulated, I think that is sad because yes, I do think they lose out on the chance to experience something more organic. I’m not talking about big Hollywood love. I don’t even really believe in soul mates, per say, but I do believe that everyone should have the freedom to chose the life (and type of love) they want for themselves.

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        • True ,,, that!!

          I have written about this on my blog too… the whole arranged marriage tamasha is just illogical. People who do not allow the parents to select even a costume goes on and allows the parents to select a spouse??

          Absurd.

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        • @American Woman

          I think we are in agreement that marriages should not be forced.

          My point was that all arranged marriages are not forced. There may be pressure in these not-forced-arranged-marriages but it is not enough to amount to coercion. Therefore I disagree with comments that on the lines of arranged marriages should be abolished, they are absurd etc. because I see communities in India where the more “benign” form (as PT put it) of arranged marriage exists and I also see people who would just not survive the regular dating scene.

          I also disagreed with your view of “settling”. I’ve come to believe it not a bad thing… or even an avoidable thing if we are honest with ourselves.

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    • AlphaTauri,

      Not be pedantic, but the first post was the domain of the legislature, not the judiciary.

      The judiciary does not frame laws by itself, although it may suggest changes to them, and may advise the legislature on various issues.
      The job of framing laws falls on the legislature – elected members of the state and central legislative bodies (aka MPs and MLAs).

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  18. I feel the whole case is very subjective, and everyone can perceive it their own way making the decision so much harder. First of all, IHM thank you so much for blogging on timely topics.
    I find some of the facts in this case very amusing.
    1. The husband accused the wife for not participating in the sexual act on the very first night of the wedding, and many other times there after. But,he didn’t mention if he tried to talk to her and find out the reason for it ? Yes, forcing her to have sex when she doesn’t want to is ‘RAPE’
    2. Did they have an alibi ? It would be more appropriate to hear from a third person (not family) about what all happened at the ceremonies ? At the same time I don’t support them forcing her to participate in something she doesn’t believe in – be it sex or religion.
    3. The court itself states in the report that counting the number of times the couple had sex is not an appropriate factor to come to a conclusion. But then, why did they rule out the fact that the couple still had sex during the 5 months they stayed together for ?
    4. Does the woman want to come back and live with him after all these years ? If not, why is she denying to get divorced ?
    I understand it was an arranged marriage. And I also understand that arranged marriages don’t work well all the times. But, please do not generalize it to ‘ALL ARRANGED MARRIAGES’. I feel the success of a marriage/relationship depends on the attitudes and personality of the couple more than any other factor.
    I don’t appreciate the stereotypes associated with men and women in our Indian society. As a woman I feel I should have the right to say ‘NO’ when I want to. At the same time as a member of this society, I feel obliged to look at the case from the other side as well. I think divorce is the best option in this case based on the fact that they have been living separately from a long time now. But, I hope the supreme court doesn’t generalize it to all such cases. Oh Lord……

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    • You know what IHM, pardon me for taking a different stand, but the reports don’t mention all the facts. We really do not know. And like the above poster mentioned, if she left home so long ago and hasn’t returned, why is she denying divorce? Wouldn’t divorce be the best option here? And please IHM, if it was societal pressure, she would have returned to his place by now, which hasn’t happened.

      Alas, IHM,.the order on the sex issue was highlighted to sell newspaper copies and you also fell for it. When you write a newspaper report on something as mundane as a divorce proceeding, you tend to look for something that is eye catching. Incompatibility is a factor of many things, a marriage breakdown also a factor of many things. Let us not take this case as a blanket one to apply for other situations.

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  19. The problem is the so called values the Indian society promotes. They encourage absolutely no sex education and encourage no healthy talk or discussion. And this results in giving rise to sex starved individuals. A few guy friends later told me this common game that the guys used to place in college buses: They would rank girls in the most probable order of being raped !

    Sex is important yes, not in a marriage but a relationship because the body needs and wants it . Both men and women need it but we are taught that women don’t need it. There is nothing wrong with pre-marital sex , I had a huge argument with my mother and told her it is okay as long as protection is used.

    Coming back to the article, how often two people have sex or not depends on the physical chemistry between them. This is one main flaw in arranged marriages, what if you can’t get sexually excited by your partner? I guess then folks do it coz they have to, and they would never know the difference between okay and what could have been great.

    Most couples I know skip sex on the first night, the indian wedding ceremonies are so exhausting , all people want to do is sleep . To expect them to have sex on the first night is actually cruel. At least now, a lot of people are slowly doing away with the poojas and the sari for first night part.

    That the court made such a ruling is actually a very sad one.

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    • I agree. There are so many things wrong with this, that it is hard to know where to start.

      It is wrong that the courts gets involved in playing “the blame game”, if one of the wedded partners wishes a divorce, this alone should be sufficient as nobody should be married against their will.

      It is wrong to consider the “denial of sex” on wedding-night, or any other night, “cruel”. Nobody (married or not) has the right to demand sex from someone who, for whatever reason, are not feeling like it. The word for people who demand such things, is rapist.

      It is wrong, or atleast very silly, to start a relationship or a marriage by having sex on the first night, this is especially true if either of the involved are virgins and if they don’t know eachother very well already. Much better to take things slowly and one step at a time, without pressure or time-limits. (Yeah okay, it’s acceptable to break all rules, including this one if both parts enthusiastically want to)

      And yes, I think it is wrong to marry someone you haven’t lived with for a minimum of a few months, including in bed. Human beings do have differing sexual desires, and it’s reasonable to wish for a husband, or a wife, that have similar enough desires that both can have their needs met. There’s simply no way of knowing without trying it out.

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  20. I think the courts should stay out of people’s bedrooms and concentrate on other, perhaps more important matter, such as convicting people for serious crimes (rape, abuse, murder, genocide etc etc) say sometime within a decade of it occurring (radical right?).

    When it comes to women’s rights within the marriage, or anywhere for that matter, everyone wants to jump in and declare themselves upholders of the moral health of the country.

    As for sex in an arranged marriage (first night, any night, whatever) – sex for the first time is stressful enough – add to the mix a virtual stranger, thoughts on “please don’t let it be horrible, I’m stuck here forever” and the MIL of a few hours with her ears stuck to the door wondering if her grandson’s conception is being done in an adequate manner. Ugh! Is enough to put anyone off.

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  21. Pingback: Arranged Marriage or Love Marriage? « Perceptions

  22. So for some (even justified) reasons, if a man is not able to impose himself on his wife, he gets divorce easily….
    But isn’t it a good thing??? A good riddance actually.. Why should a woman suffer a man like that who is all set to drag her in court when he should be seeking advice of a good counselor? Maybe the wife has some mental block against sex, or fear, or some medical issue.

    And for sex at first night – well… who are we? chained animals who are ready to pounce on each other as soon as the society permits? Esp for arranged marriage, shouldn’t the comfort factor be established before the physical intimacy is initiated?

    And I thought it was basic common sense.

    Like

    • Absolutely. Bingo!! This make me very apprehensive indeed.

      If the legal fraternity, bureaucrats and cops think this way, then we can safely assume that the average Indian perception of a woman is that she is a vessel and a receptacle for male desire.

      She’s like a performing monkey — cook in the morning, provide sex at night and perform sundry household chores during the day!

      Like

      • “cook in the morning, provide sex at night and perform sundry household chores during the day!”

        This part of your comment reminded me of that awful Star Plus ‘anthem’ for women.

        Like

  23. Just FYI.

    I know of a couple, where the wife had to leave for studies abroad just a month after their wedding. That one month went in a whirlwind of travel, relatives visits etc. And then the year following that was long distance with maybe a couple of visits here and there thrown in, since they couldn’t travel all that often.
    So finally the marriage was consummated after a good long year.

    OMG, by these standards, the girl would have to be divorced even before she left for her studies….under the grounds that she won’t be “available or providing sex for the next one whole year” Gasp! :shock:

    Why should anybody else decide when the couple should get together? :roll:

    Like

  24. Our indian society has a one track mind and a very illogical one at that. They have weird ideas..
    for e.g

    When i wanted to get married to my then chosen mate , they disagreed and were worried that since i was living away from home i would get TEMPTED and sleep with him !!!!

    When they flat out denied our relationship, telling me i need to forget him my mom’s question to me was ” i hope you didn’t sleep with him”… !!

    Then when my husband arranged the wedding in a temple in 3 weeks time ( i had to give 3 weeks notice) and he needed 3 weeks to arrange a reception and honeymoon – every relative decided that i was pregnant and hence the great rush for marriage !!!!

    Aftera yr of marriage when a baby didn’t show up they al gossiped that maybe something was wrong or my husband must have used me and dumped me !!!

    See the common thread in all this – SEX, that’s what marriage means to a large population, i hope our generation did a bi to change this and i hope the next one succeeds. marriage needs trust, love, care and passion to make it happy and joyous, lacking even one aspect means you are missing out on something. As for this case, this marriage was probably doomed from the start, just wish the judge could have parted these 2 without the first night and how many times tamasha… irrelevant to the dissolution of marriage.

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    • I agree with what u said, it is not just sex, it is the relationship, the understanding and trust between the parties that is important. If we do not go by Judge’s word and took a step backward and think then we realize that the Judge has actually saved 2 souls, the unfortunate couple had a broken marriage from day 1,if their family members have understood it earlier they could have a happy life afterwards, they might have searched for an appropriate mate according to their choice and preference after their failed marriage. If the society was a bit open minded ,a bit more supportive to both the individual and families , things could have been much easier for them.
      Society should accept the divorcee men and women with better respect and love, They are already broken from their marriage, things did not happen the way they have dreamed off, but for our society instead of giving a helping hand will take the opportunity to settle score or to make the living life of the divorcee men and women , a living hell.
      I was a firm believer that the marriage once solemnized should be continued irrespective of any condition but after seeing the conditions today ,I am not a believer in that any further. what is the point in carrying a marriage which gives one pain and sorrow, if there is no love, trust respect then better be separated and be happy at least.
      I see today that The society and family pressure is so much on the young male or female that they have to marry. Even though they are ready for it or no. If any female or male wants to leave alone wants some time to get ready for marriage, the society will not leave them, they will make comments about them and their family, they raise all concerns and worried till they get married and get doomed like the unfortunate couple.
      We are making all comments about our perspective accepting, rejecting thoughts of other but are thinking about the couple who recently got free the nuptial bond which was a curse to them.
      I request to all who are reading this blog to please take some moment of our life and pray for both of them and their family that they get peace and happiness after this difficult phase of their lives and they both get a happy life afterwards, a new beginning whether it is a new marriage of their choice where both are happy and content with their partner or they choose to live life alone. And not only those couples but all other unfortunate couples who might be going through this difficult phase of their life.
      The most important thing is that they should be happy in their life, and they should get support from their family, friends and society.
      May God bestow his divine grace to all such unfortunate couples and give them peace, happiness, joy and acceptance.

      Like

      • Beautiful comment. I love all of the points that you made. Families should be for love and support. Not for pressure, or emotional blackmail. Let’s pray that the good parts of these ancient traditions are able to shine without being tarnished by old attitudes that should have fallen away a long time ago. And lets also pray for the souls who are committed to creating their own path, even if it means going against the status quo.

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  25. I find this idea of “denying” or “allowing” sex to be so anachronistic that I do not even know what to think about it. Doesn’t sex happen, in a normal healthy relationship as a mutual act? One where all involved parties want to have to be involved? The allow/deny trope assumes that one partner gets more out of it than the other- which is certainly no the case. And sex is not a mental thing- it does not lead to bonding or to anything beyond the physical. That happens because of the conditioning society puts on it. Sex is a natural physical act- it becomes better if done with someone one cares for- but then so does eating- don’t people enjoy meals more if thy share them with people they like or are comfortable with?
    I think a lot of unhappiness can be avoided, if people stop confusing lust for love- and acting on the feeling, ending up with partners who are great to exercise lust with, but lousy to share lives with. And even marriages that happened because the parties were in love with each other do not rely solely on sex to keep them going!

    People who agree to get married because of societal pressure should also not be made to think of it as a duty- it is not a case of “you made your bed now lie in it” – where is the humanity when it comes to them? It may not be a decision a person would take because of their unique circumstances, but the rest of us need to empathize. No one gets married expecting to constantly deal with unwanted or uncomfortable situations- and people should be allowed their space specially if they have done what one would not do in their situation. They are also, even in their regressive, traditional lives as entitled to happiness and security as those of us who make the “right choices”. Dismissing “them” and “their” choices is juvenile and also very cruel. I have a friend who is getting married for what I think are the wrong reasons- she is my age, has to found a stable lasting relationship and seems to be giving in to a lot of pressure. Does she deserve being forced, because “she should expect it”? Or could it be that she has not really had the time to process her decision? Isn’t it like taking up a job which one hates later, because one has to – desperation or peer pressure or anything? It is a situation she has to deal with( if it arises) and one which I need to support her through- regardless of my own feelings about it.

    That said, the court needs to think of people as complex beings and not reduce them to caricature. Women do not “allow” or “deny” sex as much as men do not want it to the complete disregard for their partners feelings. And the court has no business deciding when a couple should decide to have sex- that is a bit too intrusive.

    Like

    • //They are also, even in their regressive, traditional lives as entitled to happiness and security as those of us who make the “right choices”. Dismissing “them” and “their” choices is juvenile and also very cruel.//
      Love your comment!!

      Like

    • Allytude, it has also struck me that perhaps the law is unconsciously influenced by the doctrine of coverture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coverture).

      After all, this doctrine is responsible for many of the attitudes that we unconsciously hold about women and marriage.

      Under coverture, the husband would be perfectly justified in unilaterally demanding sex from the wife.

      Under coverture, husband and wife were one person under the law, and that person was the husband.

      Since a feme covert (married woman) ceded all her individual rights to her husband and he became the possessor of her body and her property, she could not deny consent for sex, since she had implicitly given it by consenting to marriage.

      So perhaps in the law maker’s world, consent to marriage=consent to sex?

      Just a thought…

      Like

    • //They are also, even in their regressive, traditional lives as entitled to happiness and security as those of us who make the “right choices”. Dismissing “them” and “their” choices is juvenile and also very cruel.//

      I agree with this. I honestly support anyone who chooses to go the traditional route, and I empathize with the people who feel forced to chose between their happiness and the happiness of their parents. That is a very tough situation. If I was faced with the thought of being cut off from my family, I’m sure I would think twice as well.

      When I think of my ex who is getting an arranged marriage, sometimes my anger at him makes me wish him a miserable life, but at the end of the day, I love him and I can’t bear to think of him being unhappy. I really do hope that he finds his happiness…even if it’s not with me.

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  26. I’m a guy who had a love marriage. We had sexual relations before marriage, so I cannot exactly relate to the incident, but I know women are scared of sexual relations for the first time (especially in countries like India where most marriages are still arranged). I had a lady friend who got arrange married and requested her husband to give her some time to adjust with him before they entered sexual relations. The husband agreed. Had he been like this man, he would’ve filed for divorce. If I was told by my wife to hold on for some time because she wasn’t prepared, I would be a gentleman and not rape her, unlike this man who would consider it cruelty to himself and go: OMG mommy she didnt have sekks with me!! :'(
    Even in Kamasutra, it is written that husband and wife should abstain from sexual relations for 5-7 days
    and give time to each other. If THAT’s the mental level then, no wonder there are so many rape cases in Delhi.
    Guys please…. respect women and their feelings. And I don’t care how many thumb downs I get… If my woman says she can’t have sex for 5 months… we wont have sex for 5 months. I love her because she is my partner, my soul mate, and not some sex doll.

    Like

      • Such men are also likely to substitute icky words like “sekks” with euphemisms like “intimacy” or “conjugal relations”. :)

        Like

        • Tch, no.

          Both those terms are far too clinical and impersonal.

          The only kind of people who would say something like “OMG mommy, she didn’t initiate conjugal relations with me!”, are lawyers and criminal justice majors. And even then, it would work only if mommy was a lawyer or criminal justice major too.

          I believe the correct euphemism is in fact “matrimonial duties”.

          This sounds sufficiently clean, while not compromising on self-righteousness, feudal nostalgia, pomposity and a measure of would-be-noble finger pointing.

          OMG mommy, look, she didn’t perform her matrimonial duties!!!!

          Sounds a lot better. And this way, mommy can fume from her nostrils and swell up magnificently as she berates the bahu for not doing her duty as the slave…er…wife of her darling baby.

          Like

  27. And honestly, how can people want or demand sex if their partner is unresponsive or uninterested? Isn’t the whole deal about mutual participation? What kind of person would look only at what they want, more so if there is another person involved? Or maybe I have got the dynamic of a relationship wrong.

    Like

    • Sadly such men exist.

      My ex was one such instance. I think traditionally-raised Indian men are as conflicted about sex as women are. They also seem to think that women only have sex to please men and are not themselves interested in it.

      My ex-husband would look at my bits and pieces with a combination of lust and loathing. It used to freak me out. And like this man, he would accuse me of denying him sex.

      A woman is expected to be a willing partner after toiling the whole day in the kitchen, tolerating jibes and admonitions from the in-laws, with an indifferent and remote husband whose loyalty is questionable. All this while still learning to feel comfortable in new surroundings away from people she loves.

      And then men like this get to blame this woman for “denying sex” to her husband!

      Not saying all husbands in arranged marriages are like that, but I’m sure, this couple also had serious relational problems outside the bedroom. The lack of sex was just a manifestation of those other problems.

      Like

  28. Ah! looks like I am might late in reading up this post and commenting. But nevertheless, will put forth my 2 cents:
    I do feel that sex, and especially sex on the first night of marriage is highly over-rated. Maybe it is because of all the hype around suhag-raat and the advertisements generating because of that, or maybe because no one really talk about it openly and the hype results because of the “mystery” surrounding it. I do not think sex is the most important thing in a “good” and equal marriage. What is more important is companionship and that both the partners listen to each other and respect each others’ decisions and moods (in this context, the mood to have sex).
    Also, the whole non-mature way of discussing sex among friend circles has always bothered me. It is hardly a mature discussion but mostly is in the gossipy and giggly way. And such discussion, do give rise to peer pressure to perform well in the act, do it certain number of times etc. I am not generalizing anything here, it is just that more often than not, I have seen people discussing it a particular way.
    This law I feel is un-necessary and does nothing to help the new couple. Forget arranged marriage, even in choice marriage where the couple knows each other from before, it might be difficult for them to have sex on the first night!
    The husband and I had a love marriage and we talked about sex openly before we got married. And believe it or not, I was shocked about so many mis-conceptions I had about sex. And it not only helped getting my facts right, but also made having sex for the first time a much more fun experience. And no, we did not “do it” for many days after marriage because we were too busy traveling or just enjoying each others’ company. And none of us will find that a reason for seeking divorce!
    I do hope they stop giving reasons for grounds for divorce and making laws out of them. Just leave it upto the couple if they want a divorce, without bothering about the particulars behind it.

    Like

    • I don’t get this hype about having sex for the first time either.

      I think for a majority of people, first time sex does not live up to what it is made out to be.

      Of course, it can be very gratifying from an emotional perspective, but the act itself tends to be a bit clumsy when you’ve never done it before.

      I can tell you that it was positively lousy for me. It made for lots of hilarious stories at parties and all, but it was certainly not the best thing I’ve experienced in my life.

      That was the scenario after a rather romantic time out with a woman I was quite attracted to, and with the added fact that both of us were, well, enthusiastic about it.

      Imagine having sex for the first time in your life with a virtual stranger, at some ungodly hour of the night, when you’re completely tired out from all the wedding ceremonies and are just about ready to tuck in and sleep for about a decade. No build up, no real relationship, nothing.
      And some people believe that this is the epitome of romance.

      Almost makes you feel sorry for them.

      Like

  29. In Patriarchy sex is considered only as a way of reproducing off springs. Marriage is the licence to have sex so that the inheritor of wealth is conceived. Emotions and fears of persons involved, especially women are not considered important.Sexual intercourse on first night and early Child birth is stressed because there will be an inheritor as early as possible. A man should not die with out an inheritor to his property.
    The comments of the Court reflect this attitude.
    Only constant campaigns against such attitudes [and of course economic changes],can change the mindset of judges and the Society.

    Like

  30. This is slightly off topic…I dont understand why someone needs a good reason for a Divorce.(Yes I understand there are financial ramifications etc.) If two people want a divorce, apply for it and get over with it Legally. If only one of them wants a divorce, then the other is better off granting the divorce, cause if you look at it from the emotional point of view(since most relationships are based on our emotion), theres already a point of no comeback in the relationship, so why would anyone want to be with a person who doesnt clearly, want to be with them?

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  31. Pingback: An email: An Old fashioned boy friend and a Liberal girl friend. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  32. @the bride,
    the only thing you correctly understood was the arrange marriage part. Yes, the concept is stupid and I don’t support that some part of it is fine.

    About erotophobia there are theories that more than 50% if india suffer from it but understand we both are basing our fact from the same news source. You are prejudiced to believe that the woman was the victim possibly due to past experiences (pardon if I sound judgmental) while I am prejudiced to blame it on the institution of arrange marriage both can be right or wrong.

    I do not believe society has anything to do with concept of arrange marriage. If you look at it,.most of the time its the parents to blame however since a child cannot accept his parents doomed his life tend to blame it on others.

    Now about first night, I agree not everyone be expected to preform first night. Yes. However since its symbolic in almost all cultures, the logical response would be the partner will be expecting something. Since this is arrange marriage and all, so heavy amount of communication gap. However .it all starts with preparing yourself mentally that some amount of time you have to participate in the act, which I think was lagging here. I again repeat, I do not mean this is only for bride but logically true for groom also. Performance pressure is more on the groom rather than bride.

    There is possibility that there is a massive amount of gap between sexual drive of male and female,.in this case divorce is a logical response against alternative like martial rape, adultery, prostitution etc. don’t you think?

    Like

    • WTF is ‘symbolic’?! Who the heck is it to symbolic to?! Where does this lovely society of ours (and clearly the law is in cahoots with them now) get off telling two people how to go about their private business? And why should anybody go through with something purely because it is ‘symbolic’? Sati was symbolic too wasn’t it? Should we bring it back then? And if you really say you’re against arranged marriages, ‘hate them’, how about you go through with one anyway, because, you know, it is so ‘culturally symbolic’?

      Like

  33. I tried posting this comment a couple of times before but was unable to trying again

    When ever we discuss some legal decision , we need to discuss it as a legal decision keeping in mind that every such legal decision will set a precedence

    Denying sex in a marriage to your spouse could be a reason leading to divorce is the jist of this decision
    It is for spouse and not just wife
    Another one came yesterday where it was a wife who got a divorce on account of husband denying sex to her from first day

    Law is always neutral and so should be the discussions related to laws .

    Like

    • good one…. i dont think first time sex should be cited a reason.. but say, if someone’s spouse denies sex to him/her for a prolonged time… that person has been tortured upon. has he/she not been ?

      Like

      • No. No persons ever, under any circumstances, have an obligation to have sex with you. Saying ‘no’ to sex is never “torture”.

        Ofcourse, if intimacy and sex is something that is important to you in a relationship, and your partner is unwilling or unable to provide it, that may be a sign that you’re not a good match as a couple, and you’d be better off splitting up and finding a more compatible match.

        Thus no intimacy could be a sign of a badly-functioning marriage (though it’d be okay if both partners wanted it that way), but even so, it’d never be torture or even objectionable. It’s perfectly fine, for example, to want marriage, but not want sex. Offcourse it’d be best to be open about that from the get-go, so as not to give your partner false expectations.

        Like

        • I agree with most of your points but i donot agree with the statement
          //No. No persons ever, under any circumstances, have an obligation to have sex with you. Saying ‘no’ to sex is never “torture”//
          Saying No for sex for sometime is understandable and the partner should be understanding enough. saying no every time to your spouse(Your Spouse is not any person, He/She is a very special person in your life, He/she will have expectation about each other because they are married ) will be a torture. I am not sure if u r a male or female. But if you want u can try it in your relationship. and if want share the experience.
          It is not just Sex, It is your acceptability in your partner’s life. You are ignoring your partner. If One is saying No then one should have compensate it via showing love ,trust and care in other form.
          Any relationship works on trust and love. It is not just Husband or wife relationship, any relationship whether it is a relationship of mother and son, or a relationship between brothers/sisters siblings. You always show love and trust by your action, I am pretty sure in your life in your childhood when u hurt someone or someone hurts you , u try to please her/him in some other way or vice-versa , whether it is mom or dad or your siblings. remember !!!

          See in my view, Any marriage whether arrange or love can succeed only if both the partner have respect, trust, Love and care for each other and they should show the same feelings to other, It is very important that your partner is aware of your feeling , If you not ready for the sex but love your partner tell him/her that u are not ready right now but love the other partner and you require sometime to be ready at the same time spend some quality time with him/her, get some gift/ prepare some favorites food, do something which the other partner likes, This will bring trust, you cannot ignore your spouse for ever and believe that your marriage relationship is going to work, it will have hard times some where in future . One Partner whether Husband or wife is not ready for sex but shows the other partner the love they have for each other, then I particularly believe no marriage would fail.
          In any marriage, physical relation is an important factor. You are not going to have sex with anyone , you are having the intimacy with the person with which you are going to live your whole life.

          Any marriage which is not working is basically lacking trust and love, So you can cite this judgment or any judgment , it is really very difficult to save a marriage where 2persons are not in love and trust to each other. It will be better decided by the 2 parties themselves. It is no point struggling all through one’s life if the so called husband and wife do not respect, love and trust each other. There is so much life and happiness beyond the husband and wife relationship.

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        • Doesn’t make it an obligation to agree to sex. I agree that it can be a problem if a married couple have very different expectations about sex, or very different desires. If one would prefer daily, and the other want to have sex rarely or not at all, problems are likely. This is one reason I think it’s best for a couple to live together for a year or two before marrying, that way they’ll know if they’re compatible or not.

          Ofcourse if a married couple are incompatible enough, divorce may be the end-result. This can happen with differing opinions on any number of topics though. If one partner wants lots of children, but the other wants none. If one partner wants lots of sex, but the other wants none. If the two have very different opinions on how to spend money. If they’ve got different opinions about where to live and so on.

          I know happy couples who have sex many times every week – and other couples that are happy together, yet haven’t had sex at all for many months. Both is fine. The point is that one needs to find an arrangment that makes both happy, but that arrangment doesn’t have to include sex (allthough in most cases it does)

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  34. Pingback: Taking responsibility for improving (?) men’s sex lives empowers women? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  35. Sorry, Indian homemaker, but the people who watched porn in the Karnataka Assembly were just MLAs, none of them was a minister. All the feminism in the world cannot alter this fact.

    Like

  36. Pingback: Who will benefit from criminalising sexual assaults within marriages? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  37. Pingback: “In my own company in a cosmopolitan city, I know women who were horrified on the First Night.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  38. Pingback: Rapist groom should have waited a little to satiate his lusty desires without problems which he has got into. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  39. Pingback: Refusal to have sex during honeymoon is not cruelty: Bombay high court | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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