Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

Was glad to read this this morning.

I would add Unpaid to the Domestic Help.

Also a domestic help is not required to pay to get the job, her employers don’t control what she eats, wear, watches etc in her own home. She can also refuse a chore and negotiate terms of work without facing social stigma. Basically, the employers do not have patriarchy’s permission to control the lives of the domestic help.

Daughter-in-law be treated as family member, not housemaid: Supreme Court

“A daughter-in-law is to be treated as a member of the family with warmth and affection and not as a stranger with respectable and ignoble indifference. She should not be treated as a house maid. No impression should be given that she can be thrown out of her matrimonial home at any time,” a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said.

Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

“Respect of a bride in her matrimonial home glorifies the solemnity and sanctity of marriage, reflects the sensitivity of a civilised society …

“But the manner in which sometimes the bride is treated in many a home … creates a feeling of emotional numbness in society,” it said.

The bench said it was a matter of great concern that brides in several cases were being treated with total insensitivity, destroying their desire to live.

“It is a matter of grave concern and shame …

Shared by psharmarao

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130 thoughts on “Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

  1. Fab post… Whatever the Supreme Court may say … will it make any diff in the households in India??? Are the men folk who treat the women like this reading… listening… IF YES… will they do something about it!!! Just how do even the one who says this treat his wife!!! Thanks for writing…Hopefully the situation will change someday… Cheers.

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    • people from US turning to India trying to find peace. Whey is there in Western countries there is no peace? Our children in India are taught to bow down and touch the feet of their parents, elders, teachers-this is a mark of respect and reverence. this doesn’t mean children are inferior. You got to go a long way to understand the heart of India…it has its transitions,cultures, inherited moral values, which many do not understand.

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      • The tradition of blind obedience and unconditional respect for those older has led to making children and youth vulnerable to forced marriages, forced pregnancies, forced break ups, no or limited social interactions, forced careers, forced sex with partners they find repulsive, semi forced arranged marriages with dowry and horoscope matching, honor killings and more.

        Everybody deserves respect no matter what their age, ability, gender, caste or race.

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        • Not to mention child abuse, sexual and physical. It is horrendous that children are taught unconditional obedience when so much sexual abuse happens in the homes. We make it so easy for abuse to take place and so difficult for children to complain about it. Are you sure every uncle, relative, aunty, bhaiyaa or whoever is worth this unconditional authority over our children. I am certainly not!

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      • Varghese, people from US when they come to India are not obligated to follow Indian traditions. Remove that requirement and you can find all the peace you want:-) Ask one of the American tourists to take the place of an Indian dil in a traditional joint family for one day – she”ll pack up her bags and run like the wind:-)

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        • Sir,

          You all must have read in the recent news, 28 Small children in US have been killed (point blank shooting) by a person in US!! There are also news a biological father, kept his own daughter underground for several and raped her for several years, he fathered 9 children from his own daughter. What culture is this? We in India do not instruct any guests to follow our traditions; but we are happy that our guests from other countries finding peace in our Ashrams,Gurudhawras,Haridawara, etc. many finding peace with Yoga, which is very much Indian. If an individual is at fault, please do not blame the country he/she resides. The problem with Indians is inf-actuation; “other side of the fencing is greener”. The current generation is trying to copy others, and lands in the middle of issues. Marriage is not a contract, it is a life long commitment, where we must learn to co-exist with others (both men/women). If my own daughter can help her own mother with domestic related issues, my daughter-in-law can also do the same thing…it is not to be “maid’s work”-she does it out of love….I must also put it this way, both husband and wife must take responsibility to build a “Home”. One must not ruin the life for monetary benefits.

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        • @ Varghese

          Traditional method of dealing with sexual crimes has been shaming, blaming and silencing the survivors, now that survivors are refusing to be silenced, we are seeing more reporting of sexual crimes – frequently by family members, including fathers and brothers. Here’s an example, of how they still are not condemned the way they should be:

          http://www.indianexpress.com/news/supreme-court-saves-from-noose-man-who-raped-daughter-killed-her-wife/1066129

          The man raped his daughter in 1999 and his wife was a witness. In January 2006, he was released on parole when he axed to death his wife and daughter. This time, his second daughter witnessed the incident and testified against him. The trial court awarded the death sentence and the high court confirmed it.

          “It was thirst for retaliation, which became the motivating factor in this case. In no words are we suggesting that the motive of the accused was correct, rather we feel it does not come within the category of ‘rarest of rare’…” the court held.

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        • @ Varghese,

          “There are also news a biological father, kept his own daughter underground for several and raped her for several years, he fathered 9 children from his own daughter. What culture is this?”

          That was one crazy guy committing a crime. This is not ‘their culture’. He wasn’t even in the US, he was in Austria which is very far from there! Have you heard of the Nithari case in Delhi? A man raped/ killed and tried to eat a number of children over a few years. Does that make this indian culture? Also, you must not read the newspapers, there are plenty of biological fathers raping their daughters in India too. It is illegal, they are committing a crime.

          “If my own daughter can help her own mother with domestic related issues, my daughter-in-law can also do the same thing…

          Why did you say she is helping your wife? Do you not eat the food, use the cleaned clothes, live in that house? Is she not helping you too then? Do you believe housework is only a woman’s job and anyone who shares it is only helping her? That is the point being discussed here, not that housework is ‘maid’s work’.

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  2. It is sad that supreme court had to say all this. But, when people think they have a ‘right’ when they have a son, its a relief to see some winds of change.

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    • Madam, it is sad to say that Hon.court is telling me what I should do in my family. Don’ t you think, you are morally obliged to care for your parents? If that is the case, what difference it makes, if you also take care of your old FIL and MIL? Are you not married into a family? The problem is, we are trying to copy the cultures beyond geographical limit of this great nation. It is sad to find, the peace and harmony existed in our Indian families now getting ruined for we do not understand try to feel the fragrance of joint family love, care and protection. Getting married is easy, but remain married is wisdom. If you happened to eat Goose Berry (Amla)-it is little bitter at the first bite, but later it is sweet. Best wishes.

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      • Peace and harmony that lead to daughters in law being silenced, put in positions where suicide seemed a relief, being burnt alive as brides or as widows, killed as babies or before, married to men they did not want to marry, killed for wanting to choose their own life-partners, forced into multiple pregnancies and abortions so the spouse’s family name could be carried forward (please note daughters in law have no names of their own), denied education and opportunities and freedom and asked to see this as their destiny?

        In Haryana women had to get back to work in fields and at home, days after they delivered a baby, specially if they failed to provide male heirs. All over India women’s dependence led them being sent to Vrindavan because our family values expect only the wives to ‘look after’ their husbands (generally older) and once widowed the women had no right to property and no self reliance.

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        • Hello, I read your above comments. One should not generalise a particular issue. There are sad incidents happening around the world-which normal right thinking people cannot justify. My only, worry is without proper verification of an allegation, a case of Harassment, dowry related issues, etc. should not be registered, and the accused finally should not be the victim for no fault of his/her. There is a method of finding at least 90% of the truth by making LIE TESTs mandatory in this type of cases, both parties must under go this test, so that the real culprit can be found, and innocents are not punished. One should not get arrested, or harassed merely based on a verbal/written complaint.

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        • @ Varghese,

          Since you have mentioned the lie test a few times, I wonder whether you know that our courts do not accept lie detector test results as permissible evidence? The police are allowed to use it for interrogation but it is meaningless for the court, they do not accept it’s results. This is because these tests are not flawless and people can be trained to beat them, so it’s really not quite as simple as that.

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      • I have yet to see wisdom in remaining married if the spouse is abusive physically and emotionally. What sweetness will a person taste after being married to an abusive spouse for three decades? The tag so martyr at the best. Do we need it?

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        • “remaining married is wisdom ” that is news to me!! People with such mindset abound in every family in India, that is why the parents tell their son when he married a wonderful German woman who has 3 children and a marriage of 14 years.

          People with such mindset and their daughter will choose not to visit their son when he is sick and in coma because the woman he married comes from a different culture.

          They worry about their ‘respect’ and choose to hide about thier son’s marriage until the day of the “shradd” the marriage is declared officially to all the relatives.

          We should SALUTE the Indian culture for HYPOCRISY, EGO, pride, fear, symbolism, rules that have no meaning. On analysis these traditions can be practised in an agrarian community to control the 20 people living in the house.

          People with such mindset ARE CONFUSED about

          Knowledge and wisdom
          fear and respect
          rules and practicality
          obligations and convenience
          society and values
          symbolism and hypocrisy

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      • @Varghese, responding to your comments:

        “Don’ t you think, you are morally obliged to care for your parents?”
        Yes, that’s a nice thought. Now, is it okay for daughters to care for their own parents too? I highly doubt it, when one needs permission to even visit them.

        ” If that is the case, what difference it makes, if you also take care of your old FIL and MIL?”
        No difference. So, will sons take care of their FIL and MIL too? Oh no, now that would be highly inconvenient, so let’s change the rule here to suit us!

        “Are you not married into a family?”
        No I’m not. I’m married to my husband. Is my husband married into my family? No, he’s married to me.

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        • Sir/madam, If we opt to respond to everything we hear/see anywhere to suit our own convenience, our co-existence will be difficult. One must know PRECISELY when and where to respond; this is one kind of ‘WISDOM”. If you practice this, a lot of issues can be put to rest. All the best.

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  3. Dear IHM, even animals are treated with more respect than brides are in our holy country. The Great Indian Family System has been designed for the convenience of the in/out laws. Parents raise their sons to be their old age insurance, condition him to be indifferent to his wife or be worthy of being mocked. DILs are expected to play the role of unpaid domestic help with absolutely no rights and only duties. The DIL is taught how to be subservient to in laws and do their every bidding…or she is intimidated by the gang and made to toe the line. What can the poor girl do? She has been married off by her parents and they have washed their hands off her. Husband is no support…but a puppet in the hands of his own family members. He himself is a victim of his family. With such a system a woman’s life comes very cheap. Leave alone dreams, even survival becomes difficult. Those who have it good are very few and far between….and that credit goes to chance, not choice.

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    • No legal system on earth can really find what had really happened within the four walls of a family, except husband and wife; probably other members of the family know little or nothing at all. I do not think we have a mechanism to find who is telling the truth/lies in case of domestic related issues. Unless both parties undergo lie tests, most part of the issues cannot come out. Can a petitioner plead the Hon.Courts in India that I am innocent and I am always available for any kind of counseling and willing to undergo lie test, if the other party also willing to go for it? If this exercise is implemented mandatory in India, several domestic related issues can be resolved without any innocents being punished for no fault of theirs.

      Another thing, when biological daughter is part of the family and she is helping her mother in domestic affairs, is he called a “maid”. If she takes care of her parents, is she called a “maid”. She does it out of her love for the parents. Now if a DIL helps her MIL in the domestic affairs, especially when the parents are sick and old, is she being treated as “maid”. If she takes care of MIL and FIL is she being treated as “maid”. I think, a girl gets married into a family, rather than saying I married you, and there should not be any WE in between us. If the upbringing is right from the beginning, there won’t be many of the current domestic related issues may not destroy the peace and harmony in the family. I think, today’s highly educated employed women think they are powerful and say that they are equal to men. If that is right why do they want (1) maintenance (2) alimony etc..? If I think, I am independent and powerful, why do I need monetary support from others? By writing this I do not think I am defending or offending others. I think, LOVE IS NEVER COMPLETE, UNLESS SHARED. One should remain dedicated and committed and always feel the fragrance of JOINT FAMILY love, protection and care. Apologies, if I inadvertently offended some one. Best wishes to all.

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      • You are right nobody would know what happens within a family until a woman is killed. Abuse is hard to prove especially if it is emotional. Lot of people are not even aware they are abused.

        Yes people are inclined to help parents. So the parents of a son are his responsibility and that of a woman hers.It is completely unfair to compare the relationship of woman with her parents and in laws because the bond that she has developed with her parents from childhood cannot be replicated with another set of parents. Her helping her parents is considered appropriate only till she is married. her helping her parents is looked down upon once she is married. Why is it her helping her in laws is her duty? Would you not call it her duty to help her parents? Why is a girl married to a family? Why is guy not married to her family too? Is she is not to be considered a servant by doing domestic chores and it is so glorious why not the guy too do it?

        Yes if the upbringing is right there will not be any domestic related issues. Upbringing of the guy too. Can peace and harmony in a family be obtained only by heaping responsibilities on DIL?

        One should remain dedicated and committed. But to whom? Can’t DILs decide if they want to be dedicated and committed to their career? Who is benefiting in joint family? As for alimony it is for women who were made to give up their career at the altar of joint family.

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        • I agree with all of these points THE PURPLE SHEEP.want to ask the Gentleman what about parents who have only daughters or a single child who is a daughter.Will their son-in-law extend the same courtesies to them as his wife is expected to to his parents?

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        • Sir/madam, I think you haven’t got my point.
          I do not support Harassment/Dowry/Burning/Killing etc. My question is when domestic related issues brought up-to Police/Courts there will be lots of allegations from both sides. Now how/who will decide who is telling the truth/lies? Any one can make allegations on any one. Hon.Courts cannot find the actual truth in domestic related issues. So my question was, why not LIE TESTS and Clinical Psychological counselling are made mandatory in our system in order to conclude who is right who is wrong before punishing a person (male/female-innocents)? If the male is at fault he should be punished, if the female is at fault she should be punished; I am I right? appreciate your response, madam.

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        • Mr.Varghese why do we talk about only daughters and/or DILs when we talk about domestic work.how about fathers/FILs ,sons/husbands?
          well I believe you think its only a woman’s work?

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  4. This is actually a sad and shameful evidence of the so called “great” indian culture that the highest court of law has to tell its people to treat a daughter-in-law with respect and not as unpaid maid. I thought something this basic should be ingrained in hearts and minds of any civilized society, or atleast one that pretends to be bastion of “family moral values” for rest of world. In other words, family values in Indian culture very conveniently forgets that a daugther-in-law is also part of the same family. Just like back in the day, founders of America forgot that “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” should apply to the slaves as well. At least now we can acclaim we are better than Saudi Arabia where women are believed and treated as inferior human beings with religious, social and legal impunity.

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  5. What irks me is that so many men say they need a wife because they are living alone away from their families and want to somebody to look after them and cook for them – I’ve met a few such samples in my office. You want hot meals and a clean house – Get a servant !

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        • These kinds have “mothers”, “sisters” and “sisters-in-law” in india and marry late.
          These kinds also marry early when they are outside india , Dowry is more than a bonus. And Gold truck loads. And Furniture and Cars.

          What can supreme court – go, look at the houses of these very law makers – nothing different there as well .

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    • Well, if the cultural system has a provision to enter into a lifelong (and legally binding) contract with a woman who will gladly do that for me, why not?😉
      On a more serious note, there’s no incentive for such men to change this limited view of marriage because their society simeltaneously conditions its women to also hold the same view.

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    • You want hot meals and a clean house – do it yourself!!

      The responsibility of hot meals and a clean house can’t just go from women to maids.. because in the absence of maids, it still will fall on the woman then. If men want hot meals, they need to be prepared to make them! I was appalled by a line in Cocktail where Saif says ‘I want to get married now, home cooked meals, hot chapatis..’.. Chetan Bhagat wrote a retort saying that it’s ok if your wife doesn’t make hot chapatis, get a maid for that.. but this still misses the point. He didn’t say ‘it’s ok that I don’t make chapatis, I got a maid’.. the chapatis were still presented as his wife’s responsibility that got outsourced to maids.

      Men are women are equally capable of housework. Healthy men are responsible for their own clean houses and hot meals. They can get a maid, but it’s to help them – not their wives! So yeah, want a clean house? Learn to mop the floor. Simples.

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      • Same should apply to women too! They should learn to be self sufficient in all ways possible.

        Are you equally appalled when you see girls with dreams of marrying a husband who earns more than them?

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        • Of course it should apply to women too. The corollary of ‘I need home cooked food – I will get a wife’ is a woman saying ‘I like sitting in a car – I will get a husband’. Both are unhealthy.

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      • This applies to women too. Women should learn to be self sufficient in every way. Are you equally appalled by those girls who marry guys earning more then them? Girls who expect that their future husband would take them on vacations, buy them gifts, buy a new house, etc. Do you tell them to earn it on their own and fulfill their dreams? I hope you do.

        Sometimes I wonder why this huge fuss about a hot meal and clean house? Is it really that hard to do? These are basic survival skills, there’s nothing to feel low about doing them and every human being should learn them. Men AND WOMEN.

        Are you trying to imply that all the hired help exists because men are not helping enough? I really think that they exist because people (both men and women) are increasingly not capable of taking care of themselves on their own. We educate children and make them into young adults capable of earning good money but forget to teach them the basics.

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        • “Sometimes I wonder why this huge fuss about a hot meal and clean house?…nothing to feel low about doing them .. Men AND WOMEN.”

          Well that is exactly what I said. It’s not a big deal. Any healthy grown adult should be capable to doing it. Nowhere did I exclude women from “You want hot meals and a clean house – do it yourself!!”?

          “Are you trying to imply that all the hired help exists because men are not helping enough?”

          No. Why help exists is irrelevant to my point. My point is that we need to see household chores in a gender neutral way. So if Chetan Bhagat has a maid to cook chapatis, it is not a replacement for his wife cooking chapatis, it is a replacement for both/ either of them cooking chapatis. Chapatis are not automatically his wife’s job.

          When you say ‘because men are not helping’, the word ‘helping’ says that household work is primarily a woman’s responsibility and men only help. You might not have meant to say that, it is a subconscious connection that we make. That needs to change. Before you ask, yes we need to see finances in a gender neutral way too. If a man does chores around the house he lives in, he is only doing his share, not ‘helping’ anyone. Just like when I contribute half of our mortgage payments, I consider it my fair share and not a ‘help’ to my husband.

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      • In so called “liberal thinkers – I have seen it passed on.
        When it is the man’s turn to cook, he says the family can eat out tonight
        When they do it 3 days in a row, they will say we need to get a cook.
        When the wife says that she is tired today and husbands say I will cook the dinner tonight it is JUNK food tonight.
        And when the wife cooks everyday , they will wine and whimp for variety.

        I may have exaggerated , but you get the point – they will feel restrless, wriggle and whine and ask where is the salt kept ? And the woman has to jump in.

        Blame the mothers , sisters and sister-in-laws, because some women teach women all this .

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        • As you said this—Blame the mothers , sisters and sister-in-laws, because some women teach women all this .
          It includes your mother, your sisters and sister in laws also, please dont become biased for them , as normally all women can adjust for those thinsg for their parents whcih they dont want to adjust in in laws home.

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      • Good point, Carvaka. Outsourcing should not be the fall back plan because it’s not always possible. In countries like US and Canada, the labor is so expensive that most people can’t afford maids. I see so many Indian women doing it all themselves – job, kids, home, cooking, cleaning, chores, driving around, paying the bills, while the husband does only his paid job. Very uneven distribution. I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to these women to ask or expect their husbands to do their fair share. Nor do the husbands offer. Somehow all of home related chores become a woman’s job.

        A friend I used to go for a walk with, works full time, has 2 kids. She takes her kids to classes all weekend, plays with them, cooks several meals a day. During the weekend, her husband goes to the gym, later joins his buddies for cricket, etc. She would come for the walk early morning so he could easily watch the kids before they get active. Now he refuses to do even that, so she skips the walk. I’m not saying all husbands are like this – but in many cases, the women just don’t get it – your own health and emotional well being is just as important. Who’s going to stand up for you if you don’t?

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        • Thanks words, I think we fail to question social constructs to our own detriment.

          “Who’s going to stand up for you if you don’t?’

          Absolutely agree!!

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      • Sir/Madam, I have read many of your mails-I think you have gone through some problems in your married life-this is natural for most of married people. You are being plugged from one cultural background and being planted in another culture, wherein you grow differently in a different family. If you refuse to change your inherited values to suit the new environment, you definitely face problems. One needs to adjust and to be flexible in difficult situations. Now my question was, what is the best way to find the TRUTH whether it is in the Courts/Police stations. Do you mean to say an innocent person (male/female) should be punished merely because of allegations; that too without any proof? Hon.Courts must find a way to find the truths first before proclaiming the verdit.

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        • Varghese,
          You’re beating around the bush. Why should one person be:
          1. “plugged from one cultural background and being planted in another culture” ?
          2. “If you refuse to change your inherited values to suit the new environment, you definitely face problems.”?

          You’re placing the responsibility of harmony on a single person.

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    • I agree with your sentiment, but I want to point out both men and women do have different ideas of a relationship. I’ve also seem well-educated/employed women who’d gladly marry someone who will bring in the money and they’d prefer to do housework after marriage (because of their vision of how they want to live their life) and they’re happy to look after the men. Ultimately, I see this as a personal choice, but it needs to be respected by everyone in the family.

      I’ve met one well-educated girl (MS degree from a highly ranked University in the US) as a potential arranged match. She told me ‘I’ll quit working after 5 years, and your responsibility is to bring in money, and mine is to take care of all the household work and bring up the family”. That’s her idea of a relationship, and as much as I don’t think I’m on the same page with her, I respect her idea of a relationship.

      Where I think there’s inequality is:
      #1
      It’s not the woman’s duty to cook/clean because she’s a woman – she can choose not to cook and there’s nothing wrong about it. She just needs to find someone who is compatible with that. My ex girlfriend never cooked, but cleaned the house. I did the cooking, and cleaned just my room. Its really pointless to look for absolute equality in such things.

      #2
      There cannot be demands from either partner – the man cannot demand how much needs to be done or demand fresh cooked meals all the time, much in the same way the woman can’t force a job on the husband for the sake of money or prestige (which is rare, but exists – my friend’s wife compares my friend to me all the time). With my ex-GF, if I felt some part of the house was still not clean enough, I’d try to motivate her, jump in a couple times and show her how to do it, and she’d positively criticize my cooking in a similar way. Both partners need to mutually keep getting better at what they’re doing, but it can’t be ‘expected of a person because he is a man or she is a woman’.

      My point is: I’ve seen relationships that are detrimental to both men and women, and I think as a country, we need to redefine what relationships mean.

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      • You’re right when you say that different people have different expectations from a relationship. That’s true of men and women all over the world.
        However in India, or among Indians, there is the issue of the expectations of others outside of the relationship, that adds to the complexity and inequality.
        Parents have expectations of their son’s wife. Other parents have expectations of their daughter’s husbands. Heck, even grandparents have expectations of their grandchildrens spouses. That can’t be healthy.
        The fact is that hierarchy is an inherent part of Indian culture, including Indian families. In this hierarchy the DIL is often at the very bottom, even if she is an ‘equal’ in her own relationship with her husband. That’s inescapable. The tag of DIL comes with many expectations , both said and unsaid, that most women have to contend with. And that’s why the court singled out the DIL for it’s remarks.

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      • I fully agree with you. My point is not that women should never do all the housework and men should never do all earning. My point is that housework or financial work should not be tied to gender. Even though in my personal life, we choose to split all chores and expenses equally, obviously not everyone will want that. People are different. A woman might choose to do all the cooking and that’s fine, but that should be a personal decision not a predetermination because of her gender. Same goes for men. That is key.

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    • Since you put it this way (for the most part, generalizing men; on the verge of being judgmental), let me also point out some instances I’ve seen where women have stupid demands. I request you to read through end of my post because my point is not to react to your comments; my point is that everyone in our society has unreasonable pressures to deal with, and women are worst affected without doubt. Men don’t have an easy ride all the time too with a ‘somebody who cooks and feeds them’. All of us suffer because of our society and its expectations:

      I’ve seen women (without saying ‘so many women’.. not sure how many there are) who look at a husband as a passport to a more luxurious life. I’ve rejected arranged match alliances where the girl and her parents decided the girl would stop working after marriage because girl/parents didn’t think it was her responsibility (the girl/parents stated this upfront thankfully).
      I also know of women in my family who threw tantrums because their husband wanted to move to an easier job during the twilight years of his career. They couldn’t take the dip in finances or “loss in social status”.
      The worst I’ve seen is a good friend whose wife compares my professional success to his; she’s tells him they’d be owning a better car if he was at my level in the company. This same girl also demanded a diamond ring from her husband because her parents were never rich enough to afford one, and it was now his duty to please her (she used those same words). How do you justify this as acceptable? This is partly looking at the husband as a spender for luxuries she could never get herself.

      As I said before, my point is: our society places unreasonable demands on everyone that have nothing to do with their feeling of self-worth (as worded by someone in a response in another post).

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    • Oh yes. That reason pisses me off like nothing else does. “My son is alone and is struggling to eat properly”. I tell such parents only one thing : Your son isn’t even adult enough to take care of his meals, you expect him to get married and start a family? Do you want a wife or another mommy?

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      • I know what he/she means……It means work is virtue, so one must not complain working .Men and Women should be self reliant in their daily lives and if women decide to marry for getting the man to cook for her or do the laundry for her then it should not be appreciated. She should be encouraged to be an equal partner and share the house hold work with men .

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  6. Free service in kitchens,bedrooms,family functions and even birthing and bringing up your children.If you treat her well oh you become such a great husband( as if treating her well is a favor),if you do not treat her well poor girl its her destiny.I read the same news item in Hindi please note the choice of words.

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  7. But wait! Don’t most of the guys in this country marry because they want someone to look after them and not because they want to share their life with a partner?
    Supreme Court is asking for the moon.

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  8. Well atleast there are a few courts in India who are ideologically sufficiently different from Khap Panchayats so as to be taken seriously!
    In other news, Jezebel has a feature titled’ What Working Moms Really Need Are Wives’🙂 It’s sad to think that even when a household has two working people, the bulk of the keeping of the house falls on the women.

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    • Straightfrom the horses mouth- men are like that only. they dont keep things tidy,they throw things here and there.women are more focussed on tidying up,so its their job tokeep thehouse clean.

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      • Hahaha, whoever brought this silly argument of men being untidy obviously never met my tidy husband. But oh, wait! That makes him my hen-pecked slave and me the slazy slob, I take it? Hehehe.😀

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      • Whoever spent their precious time and energy giving all these thums downs, straight from the horses mouth means i was quoting a guy.

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  9. It is very sad that we need the Supreme Court to tell us this in the first place!! And knowing how most don’t like to respect the laws of the land anyway, not sure what our good citizens will make of this!

    P.S – Dear IHM, this is the first time I am commenting on your blog, though I have been a regular reader. I really admire your style of writing about sensitive issues and also your maturity in analyzing and answering concerns….keep up the great work! We need more women like you in our country…

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  10. Sadly in laws see her as a dil, husband sees her as his wife and later as the mother to his kids,nobody sees her as a person first and then everything else. she ceases to be an individual who has roles to play in the family. she turns into family member only,with responsibilities towards everyone but herself.

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    • If i were a man, i would be worth a crore! Damn! Missed my chance😦 why God whyy did you make me a girl??…Next janam maybe…prices wud be wayy higher then, inflation n all.

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  11. Pingback: Because You Are A Girl, You Are Not To Be Educated | There and Their

  12. first we have to learn to become civilised and treat human beings as human beings and then call ourself a cultural county with family values🙂
    Firast of all why do parents want to give money ( or not) and give their lovingly raised baby girls to be some family’s maid ?? are they idiots? anyone who attemps to even try this on my baby girl will get their heads lopped off – BY HER .
    as parents we have only 2 goals for her and her brother —
    1. Be self -suffient / independent
    2. be happy ( by yourself)

    and log and society can go hang.

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    • @MR, Love your comment. I have always felt the a large part of the blame rests on parents of female children. What the hell do they mean palming off their daughter on a stranger and his family and paying them to accept her as their life-long maid? How come none of them see the incongruity in that?

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      • thanks you, yes i partially blame the parents, i also think my feminist leaning is heavily influenced by my aunt ( more friend) Radha aunty. She constantly tells me, its my job to raise my kids without a difference and not to act like a boy’s mom🙂

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    • Great goals, MR! I wish all parents were like you – that will automatically solve so many of our gender problems. Sadly, the arranged marriage system seems to be getting only worse. The demands have increased – before it was just a dowry. Bad as that is, now it’s luxurious venue and guest rooms, gourmet food, lavish clothes, cars, etc. The boy’s side says they don’t want dowry but demand so many things. The girl’s side is so desperate to please, as if they have a gun to their heads.
      My m-i-l was just telling me the other day that our relatives spent 50 lakhs on their daughter’s wedding. There was so much pride in her voice. I asked her if it wouldn’t have been better if they had invested that money in a flat and gifted it to their daughter. Her response, “She’s their only daughter. The father is a doctor. They have a very good reputation in society to uphold.” Okay, sorry for trying to inject some logic into that conversation🙂

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  13. I totally support what the Supreme court says. I agree with the post as if they are my own thoughts. Yet, I see this important message being ‘mis-understood’ by so many women.

    It’s really sad that some daughter-in-laws are treated worse than one would treat their maid. You have mentioned in the post how a maid gets more benifits over a daughter in law. However, there is a huge difference in these two and comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges. Maybe the same kind of difference between a paid employee and a business heir. Please think over this. Please.

    I hope this message by the supreme court really reaches the people it needs to reach and they take it seriously. It is not just for the rest of the family but also for the daughter in laws to truly understand it for what it stands for, to identify her role is in the family and her responsibility as well.

    As family relationships are not paid services the expectations that grow amongst them are not as simplified and as straight forward as those from a maid. Similarly if a paid employee performs better than your expectations you can always reward them with more pay, feel fair and forget about it. But with family relationships it’s difficult to express enough gratitute when your expectations are fulfilled, you can only reward them with more love expressed in different forms and can never forget about it. They become lasting memories.

    In a family that functions with love, where members love each other, respect each other and care about each other, no member will feel like a unpaid servant. As more and more services can be bought these days in exchange of money, we have become a generation who has lost the vision and joy of doing these on our own for our family. Because it can be easily outsourced it is losing its value in terms of importance. Not every task can be equated to the money that can be paid to fulfil it. You can always have hired help give medicine to an elderly or child in the family as a part of her chores and fulfil the task, but if a family member does it diligently, it means more than just fulfilling a task. This is just an example of the innumerable tasks that are a part of family life.

    Just because some service can be ‘bought’, doing it out of love (even if it’s not pleasure) in your OWN home does not make you a servant. These days if a task does not give any pleasure you dont even consider doing it out of love?! Some things have to be re-introduced, need to be in the value system, need to atleast be given a deeper thought before being discarded for the sake of convenience.

    I am strongly against all the crimes that happen with women across the world, especially in their own homes, a place where they should feel most secure, most loved and cherished. I am only voicing my concern to the way in which household tasks are viewed by women of my generation as something only ‘worthy to be done by a maid’ – by devaluing having to do something that doesnt earn us money or pleasure and making it seem like slavery instead of a responsibility towards your own loved ones.

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    • This is all fine, but moment responsibility for household chores even out of love is only heaped on the woman but not on the men, that is when it is degrading, akin to slavery and absolutely not worthy of my time and effort. Yes I am a modern woman with same education and earning capacity as my partner and I absolutely refuse to be solely responsible for cooking/cleaning/serving other physically functional family members. It is more efficient use of my time to pay someone to do those chores at a much cheaper rate than wasting my time and mental peace. I will never do it out of love but resentment and extreme bitterness if forced to do so. There is no damn love for the family if I am the only one expected to make 20 rotis after working 12 hours a day while hubby gets pampered in front of the tv with a head message from MIL. In my opinion, all this talk of love for the family is social conditioning to brain wash women to take pride cooking three meals a days without any respect or appreciation or power to refuse. We pay a plumber to repair our water taps, mechanic to fix our car, then what is wrong with paying a maid a respectable wage for doing household chores, to me that is showing respect for the dignity of labor.

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      • Hiring a maid for everyday tasks is different than getting someone to fix something once in a while. I object the shame or devaluation in doing chores at home. Since this topic was about daughter-in-laws being treated like maids, I was only talking about them but all adults should be capable of taking care of themselves and if required of EACH OTHER. How can we call ourselves adults and claim to be independent and stand on our own feet without knowing the skills of basic cooking and feeding ourselves, keeping our homes clean and families healthy. Parents are increasingly not passing on these basic life skills to their adult children, both girls and boys. Having an attitude of ‘our educated son/daughter shall earn enough to hire maids’ is not a healthy attitude. Children are sent to ‘classes’ for all kinds of skills, some which they might really do without but this is completely ignored as if it’s not worth their intellectual minds.

        How many things do our parents insist that we do because they are for our own good? Do we like doing everything we do? Should I feel resent for doing any task that is not my hobby? And why do you think men are not heaped on with responsibility of the home against their wishes, most husbands are not ready to be fathers when the wife’s craving for a child is highly supported by the society. But that is an entirely different topic. This is about daughter in laws so I’ll stick to that.

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    • I agree to some extent but i also disagree to a certain extent with your comment🙂 I dhate to cook, it does not give me pleasure, i have no aptitude and am quite terrible at it. however it gives me great pleasure watching my kids an dspouse relish a dish, the joy ontheir faces when their favorite is made fo rthem . but that pleasure was never an inducement for me to cook , it induced me to reward our cook and thank her profusely for feeding our family with our favorites. it had nothing to do with tasks not earning us money. I agree that everyone should be taught to take care of themselves , by everyone, MIL, DIl,FIl,Husband EVERYONE.
      A dil should have the same responsibility as her husband, it should be left to her husband and her to split tasks , hire out or whatever. the MIL, FIl and the assorted ils need not interfere and she has is not responsible for the happines of the family or keeping them well fed or clean.
      no one is saying dont do your work i think they are saying don’t force your dil to do you work🙂

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    • “I am only voicing my concern to the way in which household tasks are viewed by women of my generation as something only ‘worthy to be done by a maid’”

      Agreed. Are you equally concerned by men and in-laws treating household tasks as something only ‘worthy to be done by wife/ DIL’?

      It should also not be viewed as some glorified magical thing that DILs should do for everyone ‘out of love’. It is simply a practical necessity of live and is worthy to be done by husbands, children and in-laws as well.. according to everyone’s physical capabilities. It should be shared amongst all family members based on what works for everyone. Not based on gender and relationship status-quo.

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    • I would love to hear a man’s response to the question – “These days if a task does not give any pleasure you dont even consider doing it out of love?”
      It is not like men are incapable of keeping the house tidy, its just that they dint bother. As long as they were living as bachelors on their own , doing the laundry,neatness and cooking has its place. But as soon as the wife enters, the entire onus of keeping the house tidy, doing the laundry,cooking falls upon her. WHY?
      Why cant men do the cooking ‘out of love’? Are they incapable of cooking or are they incapable of love? Which is it?

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      • Madam,

        If Cooking is inferior, why many educated women taking up job in “Hotel Industry”? There are many, female Hotel Cooks, Cleaners, Attendants, waiters-they are not treated inferior. So, you say, if you happened to do same job in your husband’s home, you feel inferior!!! I say, if time permits both wife and husband must jointly take care of domestic related issues, at the same time do not forget your FIL and MIL….they need care….I heard in some countries beyond the geographical boundaries of our great country, they love to have their DOGs sleep with them in their beds, but FIL and MIL not even out on the varanda!!!

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        • Cooking is not inferior, but it is time consuming. A woman choosing to work in the food industry is doing just that- making a choice!
          A DIL however, has no choice but to cook, as that his her ‘role’ as identified for her by the family. The lack of choice in the matter makes her feel inferior, irrespective of her love for cooking.

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        • Where did she say that cooking is inferior? Housework is perceived as inferior precisely because our society traditionally considers it beneath men to do it. Most professional chefs are in fact men.. so why is cooking treated as a woman’s responsibility in the home?

          The professional women in your analogy choose that work because they like it and get paid for it. How can you compare this with all married women being expected to do all the housework in aarti’s point? You might detest coding while a professional male programmer will love it. I don’t expect you both to like the same things just because you are men.

          Aarti didn’t say housework is inferior. The issue is unfair and uneven distribution of work.

          “at the same time do not forget your FIL and MIL”

          I guess you mean both husband and the wife should not forget their respective FIL MIL? That would be good.

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      • Many men love to cook. My brother and husband both are exceptional at cooking. You just have to find the right guy.😉

        Men have to do a lot of things for their familes that do not give them any pleasure at all, it’s not glorified as much as home keeping. Women also forget a lot of things as soon as the wedding bells ring – some quit their jobs, some quit their health🙂 so we have ‘quitters’ in both genders, they just quit different things at the first chance they get.

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        • My friends house both husband and wife working, while FIL/MIL do whatever they can with domestic related issues, and taking care of school going children while husband and wife away at work. Wife while coming back from work do marketing, DIL completes whatever incomplete work FIL/MIL left at home, that includes cooking/ironing etc.. MIL always keeps a cup of tea ready for DIL; DIL after this sit with children to help them with studies. Husband returns late in night, still helps wife with whatever he can. Major shopping both husband and wife does on week ends. Some times I see the whole family including DIL/MIL/FIL children, husband in the market/shopping complex. DIL never makes an issue, she is happy-no complaints. She is hightly educated, a professional-she never said I am married to U there should not be any We in between us. Friends, LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE. Pls. refrain from making mountains, out of moles. Try…nothing is impossible, .

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    • Priti, I guess you are missing the entire point here. Like you said, someone doing housework out of love for their family cannot be compared to servants. But. And there is a big BUT, most DILs are EXPECTED to manage all the household chores whether they love it or not. A lot of times, we hear dialogues like…”we are getting old…we should get our son married so that he has someone to take care of him”. These statements already set the tone for the incoming DIL – that she is there to fulfill the need of taking care of them and their son. A need that can very easily be fulfilled by a servant, not necessarily a DIL.

      A maid’s duties are not demeaning. Dignity of labor is what everyone should stand by. What is demeaning is the reason people get married or welcome DIL into their homes – to get someone to do the domestic chores. A family is a place where you are accepted for yourself – as an individual with likes and dislikes, with opinions, with strengths and weaknesses, as a person who will help as well as need help. And yet, they are reduced to “the one who shall take care of my son’s domestic needs”. This is what the protest is against.

      I would similarly find it demeaning if my husband was defined solely by the pay packet he brings in. I would make statements like “stop treating your Son In Law like a bank account” which is in no way disrespectful to the people who earn their livings.

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      • Maybe such parents are looking for girls who are not financially independent. There are several girls who are earning but barely enough for their own expense. So women who are not financially contributing or contributing a very insignificant amount to their household are expected to share the responsibilities ‘equally’ by pitching in more than her husband at the home front. I don’t see anything wrong in that, it’s her own home too. We’ve only considering cases where the wife’s are all equal earners as their husband, where the wives are working as late and as hard in their jobs as their husbands, a very rare scenario.

        Yes, it is wrong to raise a son and not teach him to take care of himself (and others, if needed). It is even more unfair to raise a daughter and not make her financially independent AND on top of that, to not teach her to take care of herself (and others, if needed). Unfortunately, this is not a rare situation.

        A family is supposed to accept you for who you are – Agreed! But do all daughter in laws accept their new familes wholeheartedly? Shouldnt we treat our parents and in-laws in the same way? Arguments with our own mom are eventually forgotten but every remark by a mom-in-law is set in stone? Shouldnt daughter-in-law’s give equal respect and love to their parents-in-laws as they give their own parents and then expect to be treated as a daughter herself?

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        • Does lack of income make non earning women financially dependent on their spouse?

          Cabinet clears bill: Equal rights in Marital property, Easier divorce.
          https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/easier-divorce-and-equal-rights-in-marital-property-because-marriage-and-motherhood-should-not-mean-lost-opportunities-for-women/

          https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/how-can-the-society-ensure-that-marriage-and-homemaking-does-not-result-in-women-becoming-financially-dependent-on-their-husbands/

          How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

          https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/live-in-relationships-in-general-are-inherently-advantageous-to-men-and-disadvantageous-to-women/
          Men and women work equally hard in general, and yet society only considers “men’s work” as work deserving of pay.

          You may also like to take a look at,
          https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/society-benefits-immensely-from-childbearing-childrearing-and-caregiving-work-that-currently-goes-unpaid/

          Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

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        • Accepting you and you accepting them for who they are in entirely different than loving them whole heartedly.
          a woman and man should love each other, like each other to get married. there is no requirement for each other to love the others entire kandaan. it certainly helps if you can get along. you ( both of you) are not required to equally love parents and in-laws , you are however required to treat them a human beings. and they have a likewise obligation. unfortunately in our indian context the dil is supposed to fall in love with her MIL but the son-in-law doesnt? I have seen many families where the daughter and spouse stay nearby and even after 15 yrs when the SIl stops by in the evening the MIL rushes to get him a cup of cofee. i agree we treat guests with love but if you’ve been dropping by every eve for 15 yrs and are a part of my family – like my own son, then you can very well get your own coffee like my son does and make some for me too🙂 now how many SIL do this?

          as for work – Both men and women should contribute to the family in and out of home , if a woman chooses not to work then she should contribute in other ways – team spirit ?. at the same time she should be prepared for her husband to take his break form work and be ready to pick up the financial responsibility while he manages home. however if you have never worked a day in your life then employers will not be lining up at your doorstep so you may have boxed yourself into the keeping house corner just as you have boxed your husband into the working corner. sad but such is the state in many indian households.

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        • Does lack of income make a non earning spouse financially dependant on their spouse? Financially – Yes.
          Physically, emotionally, mentally, completely dependant – No.
          Should spouses treat each other ‘equally’ in a marraige irrespective of how much they earn – Absolutely.
          Do they have equal ownership to their assets and responsible for all liabilities – Yes.

          I am not trying to indicate that a house wife’s work is any ‘less’ infact I have been saying that the ‘monetary value’ attached to any chore does not correctly value it. There is more than a task is worth than the money that can be paid to get it done. Similar to child rearing which cannot be measured in money. Yes you can always hire someone and ‘get the job done’ while supervising it but what you can give your child through quality time and interaction cannot be ‘bought’.

          However, I am making a point that if the wife is mostly financially dependant on her husband then it’s not unfair for him to mostly depend on her for some of his needs.

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        • “We’ve only considering cases where the wife’s are all equal earners as their husband, where the wives are working as late and as hard in their jobs as their husbands, a very rare scenario.”

          Why should it be a rare scenario to have women in demanding jobs working long hours? It is due to social conditioning and brain wash women are lectured all their life about serving family and making sacrifice out of “love”, bullshit in my opinion meant to prevent women from realizing big dreams beyond hubby+kids. It should not be rare to have a women in high earning/high prestige job. There are women out there who want to pursue prestigious jobs with big bucks just like men do. Such women should be encouraged and supported by the husband and in-laws wholeheartedly instead of being given guilt trips for not cooking gourmet meals 3 times a day. Throughout history, generations of female potential has been wasted away cooking and cooking. Now that women finally have opportunity to make a contribution to society outside of her kitchen, last thing they need is constant reminder that her most important responsibility is caring and serving husband/in-laws/kids and rest is secondary, no one says that to a man.

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        • @ Priti, you are countering a systematic issue of gender stereotyping with women who don’t relish housework. I’m not even sure that is an actual issue. Women already do the bulk of the housework in the world, even when they don’t like it or do make lots of money!

          “I am making a point that if the wife is mostly financially dependant on her husband then it’s not unfair for him to mostly depend on her for some of his needs..”

          Yes, this is a fair division of labour. The problem is that in many cases when a woman is doing all/ most of the housework, it is NOT due to fair division of labour. It is because of gender and hierarchy. Here’s how we know:

          1) What happens when a man earns less than his wife? Does he make up by working in the home as women traditionally do? Usually not.

          There are countless women who work as domestic help, in the farms or as labourers. Every house help I had WAS the breadwinner and still did all her housework + often took beatings from the jobless husband.

          2) What about a joint family where the son earns and the DIL does the bulk of housework? It would be fair except there are usually many other household members who ALSO don’t earn but still don’t share the housework. That’s not division of labour.

          3) Where both work equal hours but don’t make equal money? It’s only fair they share the housework equally, since they spend equal time outside. Studies show that in families where both partners work full time, the women still do much more housework.

          4) Where both work and both make the same money? Even in this case women usually end up doing most of the housework. I personally know many Indian families in the UK where this is the case and you can’t hire help.

          I know there are exceptions. My own husband does half the housework, happily. However in the majority of cases, housework does not operate by division of labour and it should. Obviously financial/other responsibilities should also be taken into account when diving up the labour.

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    • I agree with most of your post. Its quite fairly written. I think most people have a problem with the fact that there are expectations/demands placed on the man and woman to ‘do certain things and behave in a certain way’. Nobody above is mentioning that the woman shouldn’t cook or shouldn’t clean, or that the man has to pitch in always. The point is that the freedom to choose is not present in our society, and it is always expected that the man earn a lot, or the woman do ALL household duties. That is the problem.

      There were several times I went out of the way for my ex-girlfriend, staying up really late for her to return from work, and making sure I was awake to give her a loving hug when she came home. She went out of the way several times too, and neither of us felt like a servant for doing it; in fact we admired each other more for doing it.

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    • You are repeating the same lines that women have been hearing for CENTURIES. Cooking and cleaning for family = love for your family. Most women who do this work also love their families, but you really need to stretch this concept to conclude that all housework and cooking is an expression of love, and therefore must be done without resentment. I object to that.
      The truth is that the image of the happy Indian family hides the many hours of servant-like labour that women undertake. You only have to get over your own denial of the culture of exploitation to see that no matter how happy your mother, grandmother, or sister seem running around to serve the rest of the family, it’s still unfair. It’s amazing to see how we buy the BS that sacrificing will make them ‘happy’- instead of working to create an environment where there’s no need for anybody to sacrifice.
      If expressing love is the intent, I would rather ‘outsource’ part of the work in order to spend quality time ‘loving’ my partner, rather than spend 3 hours in the kitchen to express my love in the form of a biryani.
      Moreover, you are mistaken to suggest that ‘outsourcing’ has caused a drop in value. It’s the other way around. This work is low-skill and hence was always of low monetary value. When women entered the workforce and got a chance to do more stimulating work, the emotional value of these doing these tasks also disappeared. That’s why they got outsourced.

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      • Cooking and taking care of ones family is an expression of love, Oh Yes! You have been hearing it for centuries from all parts of the world, there is some truth to it. Is it the Only expression of a women’s love – No. A women expresses her love in different ways. All I was trying to say is doing some household tasks in your OWN home doesnt make you a maid! Almost every home chore can be fulfilled by hired help but try to see that task beyond its ‘worth in money’, it may mean more to someone else and may not be such a pain to fulfill. Our generation is lucky to be surrounded by all sorts of appliances to make all tasks simplified, most of the time its really not the ‘effort’ or ‘time’ but the ‘image’ of doing that task that really bothers women and men.

        Just because something has low monetary value it’s not fair to label it as ‘low skill’. Monetary value could be less because there could be many poor people who know the skill. It doesnt make that skill any less. If home chores are ‘low skill’ as you say, have every child trained in doing those, they arnt.

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        • I see your point. However, again, I respectfully want to remind you that there exists a subset of women who believe that cooking and cleaning are NOT expressions of love, and decide that they want to express their love for their marital families in other ways. Insisting that they should change their way of thinking will not work. They have the right to the lifestyle that they want. denounce this attitude as being ‘elitist’ in some way is your prerogative.

          Regarding the description of cooking and cleaning as ‘low skill work’ – it is a fact of life. Almost everyone- male and female- can learn how to do it, and relatively quickly. The economic and intellectual value of such work is low precisely because it is unspecialised and easy to learn. This is not to undermine the work itself. Taking it off the pedestal may annoy some, but if gets more men and children involved in learning these tasks, then perhaps it’s not such a bad idea to call it like it is.

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    • Priti you want DIL to perform certain tasks because according to you it is her responsibility and you have also stressed on doing certain work out of love. Do you mean it is the responsibility of DIL to love her inlaws and be their caregivers? Is love such an artificial emotion that it can be cultivated so easily? Yes respect can be to some extend if she is treated with respect but it may not be possible for her or anybody to love someone just because culture dictates it. If love developes it’s an ideal situation but do we live in an ideal world? If she doesn’t love her in laws does she still be their caregiver instead of outsourcing the work? Who would prefer the DIL to be the caregiver and why? Aren’t you asking DIL to fit into a mould? That’s what has been happening for centuries and you are reinforcing it. Why must all the DILs love their inlaws? Isn’t respect enough? Why must all DILs be caregivers? Why?

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      • Since this topic was about DIL’s being treated as maids, I talked only about them. You can substitute any member instead of DIL and my opinions shall be same for those.

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    • @ Priti
      in response to your comment: “household tasks are viewed by women of my generation as something only ‘worthy to be done by a maid’ ”
      How do you think household tasks are viewed by men of your generation? No, men of generations past, throughout the history of India? They are viewed as either woman’s work or maid’s work. They are never viewed as everyone’s work. Herein lies the problem.

      No one here is suggesting that house work is menial. Even when maids do it, it’s not menial, it’s job – you either do it yourself or pay someone to do it – nothing to be ashamed of. But when only the woman of the house is expected to do it, THEN there’s a problem. When she has NO CHOICE, THEN there’s a problem. When she works for 12 hours a day, then comes home and is expected to make hot chapatis while her husband watches TV, THEN there’s a problem.

      The problem here is gender stereotyping (defining what a woman’s role is), lack of choices, and extracting work to an unfair, and in some cases, abusive degree. Please let’s not pretend that this is not a huge problem in our culture, that it happens in only a few cases.

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  14. Pingback: An email from an Indian father: I want to place on record my own story as a warning to anyone… | Impressions

  15. Actually, no woman should be treated like a domestic help. In fact, domestic help should also be treated with respect.

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  16. Dear all

    If girls/boys do not want to raise a family together, they can always remain unmarried. No question.

    But if they decided to get married (love/arranged), they are no longer single. A girl is certainly married into a family (arranged marriage) to a particular person through involvement of both families and relatives knowing very well there are FIL and MIL in that family. If this particular girl had helped her own mother with domestic related work at home, she was not a “maid” there-she did it out of her love for her own parents. If she does the same thing in her husband’s family, she so does it out of her love to her husband and his family. so how can we say she is a “maid”?

    Now a “Maid” is also a daughter/wife in some family. If she can work in some other families as Maid Servant, she does it to support her husband and his family, right?. So she does a job, “maid” is not inferior-it is job, that so to be respected.

    If this poor lady showing us how she takes care of her “maid” job in your family and at the same time takes care of her own family, why not educated working married women take a leaf from the “Maid’s” attitudes towards her own family?

    While I say this, I also want to make a point that it is not only the responsibility of the women in the family to take care of domestic related issues, but also the men must get involved in that because “Maid Servants” are very rate and are very expensive these days… some of the part times servants (1/2 hours) earns more than 10 thousand a month!

    I also do not support “dowry”. But in some cases, girls brothers taking Money (they say sweetly it is” gift”) and the girl who object to Dowry opt to remain meek!!

    .

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    • ” If this particular girl had helped her own mother with domestic related work at home, she was not a “maid” there-she did it out of her love for her own parents. ”
      — so if she didnt lift a finger in her parents place she can sit back and relax and expect to be served in her in-laws house🙂 ( just joking)the problem is not the task it is the expectation. expectation that a DIl should show her love by doing certain tasks without complaining , expectation that she slaves over a hot stove because she loves them. why cant she decide how she wants to show her love ????
      so what if she lovingly hires a maid to cook for her family ? is that any less love?

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      • A husband is also expected to be a ‘provider’ (not just financial) without complaining all his life. He has to earn ‘enough’ (which never seems enough thanks to inflation), be emotionally capable of mood swings (or roller coasters), to be physically capable of all kinds of stress (work and home related), shocks and bumps along the road. He is expected to ‘adjust’ if the wife leaves her job or if wife changes in every way imaginable. He is expected to not expect anything from his spouse but to continue fulfilling expectations that come his way. For eg. He is expected to be mentally and financially prepared for children when her biological clock ticks. He is expected a whole lot of things and responsibilities in every phase of life that are more intense than ‘slaving over a hot stove’- which is too much of an exagerration btw, but which several men also do. A man of today doesnt have it easy either, hopefully in a few years (or decades) we will have some men protesting too. Then we’ll get to hear their story, to see the other side of the coin.

        My point is that all adults are expected irrespective of their gender to fulfill several functions so that familes, societies run smoothly. I would not like to cage the responsibilities and duties as per the genders, just suggesting that fulfilling responsibilities towards ones loved ones should not be seen as slavery unless it is physically or emotionally harmful or exploiting the caregiver. I am only trying to suggest that everything traditional is not bad. Animals and birds and every living being takes care of themselves and their loved ones, keep their own homes clean and ‘fix’ their own food. It was as natural to us as breathing, or walking is but we have been alienating these simple survival skills and doing those makes us feel like ‘maids’.

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        • “A husband is also expected to be a ‘provider’”
          That’s wrong and should change. Patriarchy hurts both genders. Can you please show me who here said that men should be providers and only women should have all the freedom and choices?

          “He is expected to not expect anything from his spouse but to continue fulfilling expectations that come his way. ”
          You are joking, right? Where are men expected to expect nothing from their spouses? Please read IHM’s next post on ‘first night’ to get a hint of what men are expected to expect.

          “responsibilities in every phase of life that are more intense than ‘slaving over a hot stove’- which is too much of an exagerration ”
          Your glorification of men’s work is also ‘too much of an exaggeration’. I do everything my husband does, shoulder every single responsibility he does. Just like housework, it’s not a big deal!

          ” I would not like to cage the responsibilities and duties as per the genders”
          That is exactly what you are saying you would like though. A disclaimer does not undo every other sentence.

          “fulfilling responsibilities towards ones loved ones should not be seen as slavery unless it is physically or emotionally harmful or exploiting the caregiver”
          Did you read the news article that this post was based on? The woman was tortured by the husband and treated badly until she committed suicide. That is slavery. Doing one’s fair share is not and no one suggested that it was.

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        • Priti, many times on this blog, readers have pointed out that in a patriarchal society Man is also at disadvantge, not so much as women, but still to some extent. You gave once such example that “A husband is also expected to be a ‘provider’ (not just financial) without complaining all his life. He has to earn ‘enough’”
          If the Indian society is not so chauvinistic, this “husband” can chose to not work and let the “wife” earn. He can also choose to go for a low-paying but emotionally, intellectually fulfilling job, if his partner is able to provide support. But because of his male gender, society expects him to be always the main earner in the family, leading to high expectations and stress.
          You said – “just suggesting that fulfilling responsibilities towards ones loved ones should not be seen as slavery unless it is physically or emotionally harmful or exploiting the caregiver.” I think this is the point – DILs are exploited to be the caregiver. Right from the childhood, girl’s parents tell her that she has to get married and move on to her husbands house and then provide care to her husband, children and in-laws. The in-laws expect that, now that DIL is in house, she should take care of the whole house including them. The relatives and neigbours will always blame the DIL if house is not well kept. TV commercials will always show DIL smiling and taking care of every one. Every facet of the society is design to emotionally blackmail, shame DIL into being the caregiver of their home.
          In many cases there is no choice, but expectation from DIL is to just surrender and prove her “loving, caring” nature.

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        • Since you are talking about expectations. Husband and wife may have certain expectations out of each other which they may sort out according to their situation. (For example, whoever has more time at home can pitch in with more domestic work). However the post is about DILs not wives. Should in laws have expectations out of DILs that they should cook as per their recipes, their convenience, their time and serve things hot to them while waiting on them hand and foot because they think that is an expression of love. Should inlaws have any expectations at all? If woman’s parents do not interfere in in their SIL’s daily routine should his parents think it is their right with his wife? I have seen it many times that its parents who can’t see their son doing laundry or picking up his own towel. it is wife’s duty because she loves him.

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        • @Carvaka: I think its too easy to group all men into the ‘first night monster’ category. Nobody I know of would behave like that, and neither does my family/community approve of such behavior. I remember elders in my family telling cousins/newly weds not to expect any physical pleasure until 6 months into the marriage, and work first on understanding and bonding with each other. I think you should really consider rethinking this a bit, I’m yet to meet a guy who behaves like the idiot in the post.

          On the other hand, while I agree some of us do share work with spouses, there are women who want a free ride (look at the previous post on arranged marriage). The girl/parents wants a guy who earns a certain salary range. Very similar to the OP, I talked to one arranged marriage alliance about terms they used in their online profile ‘girl would like to relocate to US and boy should be able to give her a comfortable life there’. They simply replied “of course the boy should give the girl the life she deserves. We also need to be assured that the girl is happy.. what sort of a boy doesn’t do that?” My father was confused about who to support.
          THAT is the very pressure that men face.

          I’m very surprised when everyone says that the girl’s parents have no place in the family, that isn’t the case in my community. Several of the girl’s parents I’ve met so far expect the boy to give the girl all the comforts she asks for, and support for the girl’s parents is something that is definitely negotiated before marriage.

          Not saying that girls have it easy, but boys have pressure to face too.

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        • @ Niketan,

          I don’t think all men are first night monsters, I was responding to the assertion that men are expected to expect nothing. That is not true at all in our culture and the ‘first night monster’ post was an example of that. I did not generalise to say that all men are like that.

          “there are women who want a free ride ‘
          Of course there are and that is just as unfair as well. I have said this before as well. I don’t at all think that men are evil or women are. I think both are just people are there are good and bad people.

          “THAT is the very pressure that men face.”
          I know men too face pressures. I just do not think that is an appropriate response to a post about unfair gendered expectations on women. I mean this is not a zero sum game. Women face unfair expectations = wrong, men face unfair expectations = wrong. However, men face unfair expectations does not make it ok that women face unfair expectations. They are separate issues, both stemming from rigid gender roles, both need to change.

          I am not disagreeing with your position at all. It’s not wrong for women to do chores or for men to work, but this should be a personal division of labour in the family and not dictated by a rigid society according to one’s gender and hierarchy. That also applies to only the man being expected to work and ‘provide’ just because he is the man.

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      • Madam, you cannot show LOVE, you can share LOVE, when you do that LOVE is complete you can say. Madam, to co-exit in this world some times both men/women have to adjust, that is eveywhere. Tody’s educated women probably find it difficult to manage domestic related issues and her profession, but sweet communication can make a lot difference within you and you partner and his family. Getting married can be very easy, but remain married is a lot more difficult…try…you will be the final winner….you believe in God? if yes, the greatest Gift He has given to human, if you ask me, I would say ‘IT IS THE FAMILY” …..a house is built of bricks, a Home is built of hearts…All the nest.

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  17. I have seen my maternal grand mom , cooking , cleaning and taking care of everyone from the age of 13 , yes thats when she got married . she is 75 now and still believes that she was born to serve everyone . She cooks 3 course meal for guests .. garam chapatis and fresh sabzi ..

    AS much as i love her …I refuse to be her

    My Mom is very talented and kind , I always encouraged her to work . She used to say she love cooking and taking care of us . She slaved while we used to eat in our rooms . She has no friends , hardly visited her parents or siblings and always toiled to keep all of us happy . cooked elaborate meals etc. Last year she had a disagreement with my dad and I asked her to come and stay with me for some time . She has absolute freedom for 4 months . she learnt English , made new friends , took care of health , lost weight and gained self confidence . I put some money in her account and since then she feels empowered. Dad thought she must have suffered without him , she told him that it was the best time of her life ..with new friends and lazy life .
    She will never ask me to marry and slave away my life for a family who only expects and don’t believe in treating you as a human . We discussed most of the topics raised here in IHM’s blogs and she agreed to them .
    high time we stop telling women that their whole purpose of life is to sacrifice and serve others .

    And yes , if you love hot chappatis , learn to make them . Self reliant never harmed any one !! what money did to women , cooking will do to men ..try it out ..a men liberation moment is long due :):)

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  19. The very reason that a court has to intervene in family matters should make us ashamed and send us into introspection mode. Isn’t the meaning of family is a unit of loving humans who provide love care and enviorment for members to grow and live happily? We need to change our thinking and behavior, hopefully we’ll change for the better.

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  25. Supreme court has given many laws and rights to women, and new things coming up day by day like above, can supreme court also tell what are responsibilities of a daughter in laws towards their husband and in laws. Looks like Men are being forced to serve responsibilities and women are being given rights day by day which is not good and completely biased.
    If you see upper middle class these days…most of wife’s are living luxurious lives because their husbands work hard and being treated as ATM machine.
    In all upper middle class and above, people usually have 2-3 servants in home- maid, cook, Driver,Baby sitter etc Still it seems upper middle class are more inclined towards getting rights only but don’t want to serve any responsibility.
    There are tw aspects of everything, when any such statements is being enforced by supreme court, it should include both sides, as otherwise people start thinking in wrong direction, all daughter in laws can deny works in households by reading above statement of supreme court, hey will say in an small work that we are not servents , NO?
    But it wont happen if Supreme Court might have added few more statements to above like below-
    Daughter in laws should not be treated as servants, but at the same time daughter in laws can not deny any reasonable work?
    Because everything in this world has two aspects, if they are not being equally treated, it will become catastrophic.

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