“A Delhi court has refused alimony and advised the wife to find a job. Now that’s Equality.”

A Delhi Judge Has Refused Alimony And Advised The Wife To Find A Job. Now That’s Equality! [link]

This opinion was shared on facebook, in response to this news, Delhi court asks woman to find job, not to seek alimony from husband.

Now, I will not go into the specifics of this case, and it’s true that alimony or maintenance are not the answer to:

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

Maybe, alimony should be replaced with:

Right to self reliance: where spouse, parents, society and the laws should not be permitted to hinder self reliance in women.  [Case1, Case 2, Case 3, case 4, case 5, case 6]

Denial of education and opportunities, gender based biases in inheritance rights [Link], forced marriages (especially and frequently where women are not self reliant) [case1case 2, case 3]

Keeping children (especially girl children) and spouse in dependence to control their self reliance and choices should be forbidden and also compensated.

Equality at workplace – discrimination at work places due to, for instance – parenthood (mainly for mothers, rarely for fathers) etc should be taken seriously. link1, link 2, link3, link4, link5]

Joint matrimonial property rights: Both the partners should have equal rights on everything they make during the time they are married – to be divided equally/fairly in case of divorce. [Case1, case 2, case 3, case 4, case 5Case 6]

39 thoughts on ““A Delhi court has refused alimony and advised the wife to find a job. Now that’s Equality.”

  1. Definately yes it is a move towards equality. However whenever there are children to be brought up, who ever has the custody of the child, it is the duty of both husband and the wife to contribute to its financial necessity.

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    • @ Me Otherwise : Do you think the couple’s assets – whatever they earned during the period of their marriage, should be shared by them both?
      If not, then do you think the partner who stayed at home (generally the woman) made no contribution at all? In that case, would you say, homemakers make no contribution to the family and society? Which would imply that a homemaker might require to stay married even if she does not want to? Agree?

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        • If that’s true, no one should become a homemaker. Everyone should work.

          If so, who should give birth to children, care for them, cook, clean, take care of the house, and take care of sick family members, or old family members?

          Homemakers do all this and more. If you pay someone to replace her, your salary will not be enough to cover all expenses!

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      • Yes I agree asets earned during the period of marriage is to be shared. Marriage is a life of ogetherness and both are equally responsible to wards everything. And a home maker makes significant contribution in a family and in society. her contributions, though often neglected, probably because there is no financial entitlement, should be taken into consideration. And is a home maker isnt given her due and feels restricted in a mrriage she should have the freedom to walk out of it.

        http://www.meotherwise.com

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      • no it is not a question whether the woman contributed to family or not… the question is why the woman should not look for a job when she is capable of doing it??dividing assets is one thing but being a financial burden after seperation is another thing..she is more qualified than her husband… where is her female self respect now?

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    • There have been several studies done to put a monetary value against everything that a homemaker does, for instance what it would cost to hire professionals to do the work that a homemaker does. Estimates have put that cost close to $100,000 per year.
      I am a working professional who manages a home as well. Often my husband (also a working professional) and I get into arguments about sharing domestic chores and the question that looms large is who does the greater share of domestic work. Since my husband tended to dismiss or minimize the sheer amount of time, energy, attention to detail and devotion that went into running a home smoothly and providing safety, security and quality care to our child, I literally made a list of all the domestic chores that I managed: on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. With emphasis on the fact that it is far more difficult and exhausting to deal with young kids on a daily basis than with adults in the workplace. I was myself staggered to see that long list and was very glad I did this exercise as it was very factual and specific and left no room for my husband to minimize my contribution. I asked my husband to create his list as well, which he has yet to do.
      My husband refuses to see my list too – and we both know that it is because of this innate male ego that refuses to fully acknowledge the contribution of the wife.
      I think that the quality and attention to detail that a woman brings in raising children and an household is an invaluable, yet severely undervalued, often dismissed, contribution towards creating a peaceful and harmonious society, and raising responsible, conscientious, compassionate, quality citizens of the world. We need studies that correlate the importance of a safe, secure, loving family life, a well managed household where every member’s needs are given careful attention, detail and care in raising kids and how they contribute towards a harmonious, peaceful society.

      Liked by 6 people

    • One way of looking at it is to calculate the cost of the work –
      The cost of home making in the US where (somewhat) fair wages and benefits are paid to workers:
      – cook plus housekeeper $1000 to $2000/month
      – child care (PER child) $100 to $1500/month depending how fancy you want it (homework help, etc.)
      – house cleaning (scrubbing floors, cleaning toilets, dusting, cleaning windows, etc.) – if done weekly is $400 to $500 per month
      The economic value of “doing nothing” is $3,500 per month.

      Even if you picked another area in the US or if you picked a city/town in India – the cost of homemaking has a definite monetary value – it’s not some vague arbitrary notion. 2 income families, even in India, do spend solid amounts of money paying for supports at home.

      Another way of looking at it-
      – If being a homemaker is “nothing” why are young girls raised to put their homes and taking care of their families above everything else?
      – Why are they told they must prepare delicious food, cook 3 fresh meals a day, and serve their husbands and children and their in-laws?
      – Why tell girl children something is supremely important and then later in life tell them it is all worthless? Illogical, isn’t it?
      – Instead why not tell girl children having a career and being financially independent is the most important thing they need to do? That having a practical education and a job and paying their bills is way more important that giving up everything to take care of their families?
      – Then problem solved, isn’t it? Women prioritize jobs and earning, men don’t have to pay alimony. Women don’t stay in unhappy marriages because they don’t fear destitution.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I feel like replying to every bit of the comments here… But it is so true. We are a society were we are constantly contradicting. When we bring up a gril child , we educate them make them smart and capable to stand on their own lege. YEt when the same girl gets married, society tells them to depend on their husbands as they are the bread winner. But do they even bother to see, who cooks the bread and serves it to the family? Alas, this bit is often neglected. It is the men who are placed on a pedestal.

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      • Let’s not forget the quiet, often behind-the-scenes, strategic thought processes/actions that go into everything –
        – research and picking the right school, extra curricular activities for kids
        – planning, organizing, executing, gift-buying for family events and social obligations
        – tracking kids’ health and general well-being (doctor/dentist/specialist appointments, putting careful thought into what they eat everyday, making sure they have clean clothes to wear and are reasonably tidy, making sure they take medications/vitamins on time, making sure they have regular sleep/nap times, making sure kids have a structure to their daily life, tracking their academic progress)
        – being the first line of communication and comfort for things ranging from routine illnesses to injuries to emotional distress
        – tracking and replenishment of all necessities (in my home, if I did not keep a track of this, we would forever be out of toilet paper, vegetables, milk, bread, toothpaste and a million other daily necessities)
        – keeping track of every family member’s likes and dislikes to whatever extent possible
        – beautifying a home, making the home a comfortable and pleasant place to be in for everyone.
        – let me not even get started with the stress and people management that women have to deal with when living with in-laws
        – being the glue that keeps the family together – in good times and bad.
        It feels so inadequate to even list everything here, because there are so many other tangibles and intangibles which are taken for granted and do not get the attention and appreciation they deserve.

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      • I don’t know. Where I come from, I wasn’t told that cooking and serving my husband/family is the most important thing in life. I can’t remember ever being told about such regressive nonsense, actually.Studying hard and standing on your own two feet certainly was.

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        • good for you, Shilpa. So was I. But we are in minority. Most Indian daughters are not told that standing on their own feet is the number 1 thing. Even the ones who are pushed to study hard and get high paying jobs are told to make their marriages work at any cost.

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        • Also they may not be explicitly “told” to put their families on a pedestal. They see this in their own family and all around them. They are expected (by their own parents) to “adjust” and give in to pressure from in-laws regarding cooking/entertaining/housework, which can impact their career. A daughter (yes even one who is raised lovingly and given a great education) can quickly turn into a villain (in the same parents’ eyes) if she upholds her career over doing anything and everything (yes, including serving) to keep her marriage intact.
          Regressive thoughts are not often expressed – they are implicitly conveyed and the consequence of displeasing your parents can be devastating – they could be an Indian daughter’s last line of support.

          Families that tell their daughters both explicitly and implicitly that their freedom, happiness, and independence count above everything else are very very rare.

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      • Marriage requirs a huge amount of sacrifices.

        In my first marriage, I was pressurised to give up a stable job in India so that my husband could pursue a long term work assignment in the US.

        After months of emotional blackmail by my in-laws and husband, I gave up. I quit, despite my better judgement, and became an H4 wife in the US.

        When the marriage failed, I returned to India. I was a naive wife. All our assets were in his name. I never kept track of our investments.

        Laws in India seldom decree alimony if the wife is educated, and there are no children.

        I was lucky. I had parents who supported me financially while I got certification to reenter the workplace after a long hiatus of four years.

        My contribution to the marriage was “invisible”. The judge asked me why I had foolishly given up my career to follow my husband to the US.

        In economics, there is the concept of “opportunity cost”, which is the value ascribed to a choice that is forfeited. What about the “opportunity cost” of a woman who gives up her own career so that her husband can pursue his ambitions?

        Sometimes I think that marriage is a net negative for Indian women. We give up a lot, and get very little in return.

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  2. So, we do everything we can as a society to make a woman dependent (girl child doesn’t get the same education, young woman isn’t encouraged to pursue job or career before getting married, even women with “liberal parents” who are educated and have jobs are kept in control and dependence by our honored traditions and carefully orchestrated joint family dynamics, and workplace inequality and inequality at home makes a working woman carry the “triple burden” which can lead to her giving up her job or losing it or her inability to pursue a career in the first place) and then we punish her by making her desperately poor after a divorce. Once again indirectly forcing women to stay in marriages against their will.

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  3. I think alimony should depend on the
    1. Womens education level
    2. Womens work experience
    3. Womens role
    4. Mens role in the family
    5. Mens work.

    A women should get half of what they earned after they were married.
    Pre -,marriage assets should remain separate for both.
    Kids expense have to be split.
    Caregiver for the kids needs to contribute less financially.

    Its all money it can be quantified, theres a million other things that cannot, why fight over this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. First, we can perhaps agree that marital assets (assets earned during a marriage) should be shared.

    Second, with regard to the systematic way women are made dependent from childhood. That dependence existed even before the marriage – the husband does not create it. So making the husband alone pay alimony after a divorce is illogical.

    It would be more fair for the government to pay the alimony from our taxes (which can be raised for this purpose). That way, we can all take responsibility for the failure of the woman to be self dependent.

    Finally, pre or post nuptial agreements should be made legal and override everything else (with the exception of child support considerations).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I liked your point that dependence existed even before the marriage- the husband does not create it.

      What I would like is that women after marriage suffer huge setback in their career. So something for sure is going wrong after marriage. What’s that we need to figure out. Women end up doing most of the household work which is not recognized. Many times they have to give up good projects only because it has shifts other than 9-6. Generally do not get time to work on important assignment which may need usual stretch after office hours as manager also thinks that she has to go home and cook. They are not able to take up long time Onsite project which means lost of lots of money and opportunity. They cannot switch job as per their convenience. Ends up doing child care alone so mother does a lot of scarifies however does not contribute. Ends up doing elderly care for his parents even after working but still does nothing. Even ends up giving career to establish career of husband even when the decision is mutual not forced then don’t you think that rise in income is because of opportunity given up by the wife. And this list can go on.

      I personally know may wives who have given long term onsite project because here no one in family will force the husband to pack his bags and go along with her. One of my colleague never attended evening calls because she has to reach home to cook and this angered all of us. I have not seen any this happening with a man. I know one woman who left her job so that her husband can establish his medical practice in small town city so has she not contributed any thing in rise of his income.

      Men are able to succeed in their career after marriage because there is anchor who is holding his parents, kids and day to day work so that they are tension free from that end and can take up any work which is increasing their income and productivity. Women are trained to be that anchor which is reason behind rise of men and then they are said what is your contribution

      Liked by 2 people

      • What you’ve said is true. The question then devolves into whether or not the woman has a responsibility for choosing to take on the societal burden. She is after all, above 18. If she’s getting onsite projects, it means she’s educated and most likely financially independent as well. That alone puts her above 99% of most women in India!

        If an educated, financially secure adult woman with a career cannot take responsibility for her life, that’s taking it a bit too far in my opinion. I mean sure, life can suck big time. But there has to come a point when they stand up for themselves. They have the means to do so. Choosing not to use those means is within their control.

        If they have a choice, I do not believe they can shift the blame onto someone else.

        Liked by 1 person

        • What I am trying to say that men are able to do all those things which enriches their career because they have an anchor who hold their life together. And thats their contribution and that should be recognized. If women gets such anchor then they can also do anything in their life. Spouse support is important in achieving anything in life after marriage.

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  5. At the risk of being the odd one out here…
    What I don’t like is that parents keep their daughters from opportunity and don’t have to provide dowry to get rid of them but the husband has to provide alimony to return her to her parents. Yes the woman does lot of work at home but the husband too provides. It’s not his fault that she didn’t get opportunities before marriage. Of women who ‘give up’ opportunities for family… don’t. .. since you were self sufficient before please continue to do so and don’t give the poor dude ‘what I gave up for your crap’… just don’t give up. I esp hate the shit that women with kids do… They deserve special treatment cause the popped out another one into the overpopulated world. Seriously… let alone benefits… given how overopoulated the world is… there shud be penalty for reproducing! (Now here comes the where would you be if your mother thought the same… still here… she didnt ask for special treatment cause she wanted to have a child… she accepted the cons that come with taking time off to reproduce as same as taking time off to see the world… kuch pane keliye kuch khona path hain company exists to make profits not so that you can reproduce)… Single people… women who choose not to reproduce or make martyrs of self… men.. they have a life too and also deserve to go home on time not just pta party. If you do ‘give up’… learn to accept responsibility for your decisions. Life’s not fair… so suck it. It’s not the world responsibility to stand up for your rights it’s yours… so do it. In either case, stop whining about it.

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    • missindependent, although I disagree with almost everything you said, most of those points have been addressed in other comments.. I just want to point out a couple of things you say that are factually incorrect..
      1. “parents keep their daughters from opportunity and don’t have to provide dowry to get rid of them” In most marriages in India, the woman’s family pays for the wedding expenses as well as ‘gifts’ (=dowry) to the husband and his family. Alimony is not paid to ‘return a woman’ to her parents.
      2. “I esp hate the shit that women with kids do… They deserve special treatment cause the popped out another one into the overpopulated world.” Is the woman having the kids alone? Aren’t the men involved in having kids? What about their role in raising kids, or the sacrifices that men should be making to be equal parents? And please don’t say that they don’t ask for special treatment – that’s because most men tend to rely on their spouse to be responsible for childcare duties.

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      • Kinmin:
        1. Parent give gifts.. but demanding dowry is crime that a man can be arrested for… also, since the parent have not allowed their daughter to be independent, they man could see the dowry as some income provided to provide for the woman. If the woman is not working and divorces the man is expected to provide alimony. If we look at it as a business transaction, the man was paying for his house work before marriage and will have to after divorce. he will also now have to provide for the woman upkeep after divorce and will get no benefit of the same. If he plans to remarry, that money that could have been spent on his family! Sure if they had children together, he should pay for their upkeep but why should he pay for the ex-wife? Since she is no longer providing for him. And don’t say she allows his to build his career while married. He is also providing for he at the same time. The fact that she could have never done so is her parents fault not his. I really believe men get the short end of the stick here.
        2. Yes men and women come together to have the child, but honestly man can’t really ‘have’ the child. A financially secure woman is realistically in control here. The decision to have the child is of the couple. They are together and individually responsible for it. No one is making anyone have the child. especially the co-workers and employers, they shouldn’t have to pay for it. About child care, this is really something people should discuss before getting into it not blame each other after

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  6. “Second, with regard to the systematic way women are made dependent from childhood.”
    Not always true. I have personally seen several cases where a woman was forced to give up her flourishing and well paying career due to strong disapproval from her husband’s family.

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    • Such women need to move on. i know its harsh but why waste education especially if they think they are MADE to give up careers.
      Disapproval should not stop anyone from doing what they please. especially if its important like a career its giving back to society. its using your skill .

      sure there will be major problems a few face, but then is there a choice? wont the spouse revolt too if the wife and her parents suddenly disapproved of him working outside.?

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  7. Now that the court can intervene in all things that means alimony or child support to a woman, I would love the court to intervene in all things that lead up to this situation. I wish the court could intervene to allow the women to sue for huge amounts of money if – The parents force her to marry before she gets a job; The husband and his family/household if she is not allowed to work or people are being passive aggressive enough to stop her from going to work or the marriage happened only so that she would be the unpaid housemaid, sexual slave, nurse to the husband and his parents etc.; Any institution that defines the role of women as those who are subservient to the community. If there isnt an enabler, there wont be an enablee. Right? (Sorry, if this seems insensible. This is a runaway thought, so I dont claim it to be thought through thoroughly)

    Liked by 1 person

    • She can walk out of parents home, she can walk out of marriage..thats what she can do.
      and do it as soon as she faces this stuff, not wait for 10 yrs have kids and suddenly wake up to this.
      Ive seen a lot of my friends do this, get married, in a ton of restrictions, live trying ot please in-laws, parents, society etc., feel loved and cared at their concern that she not strain in a job outside for years and after 15 yrs and loosing all skill at getting a job suddenly realize they have been forced??/ why did it take so long, whats the purpose of education if you cant figure out right from wrong. cant figure out abuse from care??

      I think we need to start waking up.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Tough I am an avid follower of this blog since long, I am commenting here for first time.
    I went through all the conversations and liked many of them; still wish to share my views too.
    2 Disclaimers about what I believe before any analysis:

    A. Homemakers do contribute a lot towards family though the monetary value of that whole day effort is not that much higher with respect to Indian scale. I stay in Pune. The cost of home-making is: (2 adults + 1child)
    a. Cooking for — around 2500/3000
    so the wife is serving a labor of Rs. 1500.
    b. Sweeping + Cleaning utensils — around 2000
    so the wife is serving a labor of Rs. 1500

    c. Laundry _Ironing (mostly people use washing machine)
    80 Rs * 30 days = 2400 (This is the rate I followed from my area’s Safaiwala but if you engage a bai on daily basis, the cost would come down around 1500 including bedsheet/ curtains etc))

    so the wife is serving a labor of Rs. 2000

    d. Grocery shopping / folding cloths / dumping garbage or answering to calling bell/ husband’s business call / keeping note about children’s classes etc.. ( do not have the idea of rate! But assuming Rs 1000 for that)
    So the wife is serving a labor of Rs. 1000

    e. Child care: (normal daycare charges 600/ hour for a month excluding saturday/sunday)
    So the wife is serving a labor of Rs. 6000
    Total Rs. 12,000 per month. Now, the husband pays for her too (fooding / lodging/ vacation/ phone/ internet / cosmetics/ Medical expenditure etc.) (Yes, sometimes the wife needs to remind thrice for money even for buying sanitary napkins! She is reminded that “money does not grow in trees” even if she is asking money to buy gifts for neighbouring kid’s birthday whose birthday her child needs to attend! ). But still none can not deny that the husband willingly/ unwillingly provides the necessity of the wife. If we assume that on an average the husband is paying 4000 for wife’s expenses per month, the net worth is coming down to 8000 per month roughly.
    And the irony is, many of those homemakers could make much more than 8000 if they had joined outside work previously.

    B. Honestly, I do not know where the solution lies, that is why i am reading your views and writing my own.

    Now let us come to the discussion:
    1. As far as I know, in this particular case, the wife was asked by the court that why did she not search for job outside and she told, she did not know anything about Delhi and her husband did not guide her. That is why the court rebuked like if she could come to the court on her own, she could have searched for a job on her own too. This is TRUE. When someone is pushed to the wall. he breaks for that. Of course she did not feel the urgency to find a job because she was happily married which she felt after going through the abusive marriage. I do not know, what would have happened if she could show the proof of an offer letter and she could not take that job because of her husband/in-laws (may be it was in night shift/ it was in a different city/ it was involving too much travel/ her child was small enough / any-damn-idiotic-reason a girl always hears from her in-laws),
    So my point is, why don’t we take this judgment as a seminal one, and promotes to include it in the syllabus of class 10 board exam such that new generations (both boys and gals ) know that asking a girl to quit her job is actually against law.

    2. When a wife is forced to leave her job because her husband is flying to another city to flourish his career, the wife should demand at least 75% of her current salary to be deposited to her a/c until she finds a job of her own. ( BTW, I personally left my Govt. job to stay with my husband who was in another city.

    3. The girl and her family should think twice if the girl needs to leave her job for relocating after marriage. And the husband and wife should talk about the financial responsibilities and savings while starting conjugal life.

    4. Lastly, Alimony is neither of respect nor fulfilling for one’s heart at any point. Thus the law should be amended someway. But I do not know how!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Asmita Manna,
      Your are right that monetary value of housework is often a lot less than what a well qualified woman can earn on a job outside the home. I like your point about making it socially unacceptable/illegal to make a woman quit/change her job in favor of a man’s career. I think it all comes down to curbing gender based discrimination and giving men and women a freedom of choice. That way the couple can decide among themselves how they want to run the household e.g. if it becomes acceptable for men to be a stay at home parent then it will make sense for spouse with higher earning potential and/or better job security to get preference (of course based on mutual consent). All money earned goes to joint account with both having equal say in how money is spent. We know that higher pay often comes with long/undefined never ending working hours. If the other suppose isn’t ready to take all/major responsibility at home then spouse with higher earning potential should rather do low paying job with a better work life balance so both contribute equally to the household. Basically they make decisions as a team keeping in view what their common goals and priorities are.

      Now regarding your cost estimates: India sure has a lot of cheap domestic help available but you get what you pay for. No wonder we always hear complaints about workers not doing the job honestly, expecting gifts/tips, quit without notice and so on so one person has to be available to cover for them while recruiting and training new workers. Even if you hire best workers and pay them well they can’t do it all. A homemaker does a lot more than the tasks that hired employees can do. Do you think all these cooks, gardeners, drivers, nannies are going to work independently without supervision and know what needs to be done. Someone is still needed to coordinate all the work, supervise them to make sure everything is done, communicate with them to make sure they understand expectations, feel heard and rewarded otherwise they are not going to stay and cover for them when they are on leave or decide to quit without much notice. There is a reason that a person in managerial role gets paid more than the ones who do the actual work. So we often fail to take into the account the highest paid worker’s salary.

      I am sure a live-in nanny costs much more than day nanny and I wonder if this cook will stay home and do everything from breakfast, packing lunches to dinner, cleanup, bedtime milk etc. If yes then i think the expected pay will be much higher. Did you also calculate the time spent on grocery and other shopping for the household. And who takes care of the social calendar, buys gifts, makes calls to stay in touch with family & close relatives, plans and hosts family functions like kids birthdays, checks kids daily progress at school, attend parent teacher meetings, take them to doctors and so on. Also, these workers are not going to accompany you to the other city or country at least not at the wage you mentioned. Someone will have to do the work while recruiting and training new workers.

      There is a lot of time, effort, thought and attention to detail that goes into housekeeping and making a family feel loved and cared for. Women often end up being the person responsible for all this and act as this anchor in the family. Some people will disagree here and say that oh the modern day women don’t do as much hard work as the women in older generation did. The truth is we were raised more or less like our husbands with emphasis on getting a good education and a large majority of us are expected to work outside the house and earn money while taking care of majority of housework. For a modern woman, it takes much more effort to do the same housework that our mothers did effortlessly because we were not trained and conditioned like previous generation. Instead these gender discriminatory expectations cause us a lot of mental distress making it more difficult for us to function well and work efficiently.

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  9. Pingback: Married daughters having sufficient means, are under an obligation to maintain their parents: Bombay High Court | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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