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Bombay HC Says Women Aren’t Objects And Can’t Be Expected To Do All The Housework By Themselves. Yes, Thank You!

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Traditionally, gender norms and society’s patriarchal agenda dictates that women belong in the kitchen. Cooking, cleaning, raising children and catering to their man’s every need. That’s our purpose in life and even today a lot of people believe that. Now, we know that it’s all sexist nonsense, a way to keep women oppressed so the men can run the show. But we are glad that our courts are keeping up with these changing times and recognizing that a woman’s place in the world is not in the kitchen but wherever she wants it to be. Recently, the Bombay HC upheld the conviction of a man who was imprisoned for killing his wife just because she wouldn’t prepare a cup of tea for him. The court said that marriage is about equality and a woman cannot be expected to do all the housework, for she is not an object. Yes, it’s an obvious point but sadly, such things need to be spelt out because clearly there are people who are too stupid and too sexist to understand it by themselves.

Before we go into everything the court said about women, equality and marriage, let me give you some context about this ghastly case. In 2016, Santosh Atkar was sentenced to 10 years in prison for murdering his wife with a hammer because she insisted on going out without preparing a cup of morning tea for him. Are you disgusted yet? It gets better. Santosh then cleaned the scene of the crime, bathed his wife to get rid of the evidence and then took her to the hospital where she succumbed to her injuries after a week of fighting for her life. The most harrowing part was that this entire crime was witnessed by the couple’s 6-year-old daughter. It was her testimony against her father that helped put Santosh away for 10 years.

And now, after a decade, Santosh filed an appeal. In his defence, he argued that his wife not preparing his tea enraged him and he acted out in a fit of anger. What kind of rubbish defence is this? He bludgeoned his wife to death with a hammer and went to great lengths to cover it up. If you ask me, 10 years is too little time for what he did.

According to reports, reacting to that appeal, a single-judge bench of Bombay HC, Justice Revati Mohite-Dere upheld his conviction. The court observed that a marriage is based on equality and it’s unfair that the wife is expected to do all the household work. The judge said that women aren’t chattel or objects. I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that people need to be told that women aren’t objects and can’t be treated in such a way or the fact that a man who murdered his wife over a cup of tea has any kind of defence at all.

Justice Revati Mohite-Dere said, “A wife is not a chattel or an object. Marriage ideally is a partnership based on equality. More often than not, it is far from that. Cases such as these, are not uncommon. Such cases, reflect the imbalance of gender – skewed patriarchy, the socio-cultural milieu one has grown up in, which often seeps into a marital relationship.” She  further added, “There is an imbalance of gender roles, where the wife as a homemaker is expected to do all the household chores. Emotional labour in a marriage is also expected to be done by the wife.”

The Bombay HC judge went on to talk about the fact that there are social conditions at play that force women to give in to their husbands. This makes the husbands treat their wives as personal property. Justice Revati Mohite-Dere said, “Coupled with these imbalances in the equation are the imbalance of expectation and subjugation. Social conditions of women also make them handover themselves to their spouses. Thus, men, in such cases, consider themselves as primary partners and their wives, `chattel’”.

Also Read: Himachal Pradesh Court Said Women Aren’t “Cattle” But Autonomous Beings With Rights

I am glad the Bombay HC said what needed to said. However, we can’t help but lament over the fact that things like this need to spelt out. Women aren’t objects, stop treating us like we are. This is the prevalent mentality though, even today. Women are single-handedly responsible for household work, the men are of no help because making a simple cup of tea goes against their pride. Cases like the one we discussed above are more common than anyone thought. Domestic abuse over trivial things often ends up with the woman severely injured or worse. It’s extremely messed up and we need an effective solution to overturn this archaic mentality.

Talking about the prevalent mentality and the role of patriarchy in these matters, Bombay HC’s Justice Mohite-Dere said, “This medieval notion of the wife is the property of the husband to do as he wishes, unfortunately, still persists in the majority mindset. Nothing but notions of patriarchy. Thus, the submission is ludicrous, clearly untenable and unsustainable and as such deserves to be rejected.”

It’s a shame that people need to be told that women aren’t objects or private property!

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