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[act] Women's Rights Activists hail Indian Court Ruling

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    FYI South Asia Citizens Web ======================== [From The Hindustan Times, Saturday, February 20, 1999, New Delhi] Women s bodies hail SC ruling on
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19, 1999
      South Asia Citizens Web
      [From The Hindustan Times, Saturday, February 20, 1999, New Delhi]

      Women's bodies hail SC ruling on guardianship
      HT Correspondent (New Delhi, February 19)

      Women organisations have hailed the Supreme Court judgement
      conferring equal guardianship right over children to
      mothers. They termed the judgement as the first step in the
      direction of introducing gender equality in the statutory
      provisions of law.

      Executive trustee of women's organisation 'Kali for Women'
      Urvashi Butalia said that the judgement was long overdue.
      "What is necessary now is that the Government should change
      the law so that both parents are deemed to be the guardians
      of the child and not just the father," Ms Butalia said. She
      said that a positive aspect of the judgement was that it was
      given on a petition filed by both husband and wife which
      signified that men have also begun to think seriously about
      gender equality in law.

      In this context, Ms Butalia pointed out that most laws were
      not "gender just", be it the law of inheritance or
      succession and that it was time that the Government did
      something about it.

      Brinda Karat, general secretary of All India Democratic
      Women's Association (AIDWA), said that the logic of the
      Supreme Court judgement should be extended to other laws as
      well. "Since it is clear from the comments of the Supreme
      Court judges that women are equally the natural guardian of
      the child, other laws where the man is treated as the head
      of the family should also be changed so that the woman is
      treated as the joint head of the family," Ms Karat said.
      The AIDWA general secretary said that the existing law
      resulted in a lot of harassment to separated and divorced
      women who, in spite of having actual custody of the
      children, have to run to their estranged husbands for
      signatures due to the "ridiculous provisions of law." The
      husbands often use the requirements of law to bargain with
      their estranged wives, Ms Karat pointed out.

      Director of Sakshi and advocate Naina Kapoor said that the
      Supreme Court judgement would have far-reaching effects.
      "The judgement acknowledges women as the primary care givers
      to children. It gets rid of the notion of ownership over
      women of their husbands which is an artificial concept.

      The judgement is realistic in terms of what both parents do
      for their children in day to day life right from getting
      them admitted to schools," Ms Kapoor said.

      Director of Centre for Social Research, Ranjana Kumari said
      that the Supreme Court judgement putting women on par with
      their husbands with regard to guardianship, should be
      reflected in rights of women over property also. Married
      women should have an equal right in the property of their
      husbands as they contributed to their husbands' lives by
      taking care of the home and children. Only if the woman has
      an equal share in the property will she be able to take
      proper care of the children in her custody and not have to
      depend on her husband for monthly maintenance, Ms Ranjana
      Kumari said.

      The equal status of a mother as a guardian can be realised
      only if she has equal right in the property of her husband,
      she said.

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