It is said that marriage is one of the cornerstones of our society. However, for each gender, marriage comes with a code of conduct and duties that they must follow. For women, this means taking the reins of the home front and meeting the needs of the family. Conditioned to believe in these ideas and the mirage of happiness forever, most Indian women marry without realizing that a marriage can also be unhappy or difficult.
Even today, we do not prepare our daughters or future brides to manage a traumatic marital alliance. The stigma around words such as separation and divorce is proof of this. But times have changed, women no longer depend on their loved ones, at least when it comes to obtaining information.
All women, married or about to be, young or old, should know their legal rights. Women can penalize any oppression in marriage and claim covenant freedom and dignity if they are aware of their legal rights. As the government aims to revise the legal age of marriage for a woman from 18 to 21, Here is some legal rights to which every married Indian woman is entitled.
1. Right to the matrimonial home:
- A woman has the legal right to live in the marital home, even after the death of the husband.
- Even if the house does not belong to the husband, belongs to his parents or is a rented apartment.
- In the event of separation, she may remain in the marital home until an alternative is arranged for her or until she goes to her parents.
- There are no guidelines in the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), 1955 that a married woman cannot stay at home parental home. She can stay legally, if and when she wants.
- According to the 2005 amendment of the Hindu Succession Act (HSA) 1956: a daughter, married or not, has the same right to inherit her father’s property as her brother.
- A woman has equal legal rights to inherit property from husband like the other heirs. She can inherit it only if the husband has not prepared a will or has not excluded her from the will.
- If a husband remarries without dissolving the first marriage, property rights belong to the first wife.
3. Right to Report Domestic Violence:
- A woman can report domestic violence under the Protection of Women Victims of Domestic Violence Act 2005 (DV Act).
- This law criminalizes physical, emotional, sexual, economic and other forms of abuse.
- She can claim protection, maintenance, custody, compensation and continue to live in the same house.
4. Right to abortion:
Also Read: Rural Indian women will be truly empowered when they get equal rights
5. Right to divorce:
- Section 13 of the HMA 1955 gives women the legal right to seek divorce without the husband’s consent.
- Divorce can be filed on grounds of adultery, cruelty, abandonment, eviction from the marital home, mental disorder, etc.
- Section 13B of the Act permits divorce by mutual consent.
Right to request maintenance and alimony:
- Article 125 of the ICC gives a married woman the legal right to seek alimony from her husband for life.
- If the marriage fails, the 1955 HMA grants women the legal rights to claim maintenance from the husband for herself and her children during (provisional maintenance) and after the divorce (permanent maintenance).
- The maintenance amount does not include Sdhan tree and is established by the court on the basis of the financial and living situation of the husband (includes up to 25 percent of it).
If the woman wins:
- She can only claim alimony from the husband if he earns more.
- If both earn the same amount, she cannot claim child support for herself, but can claim it for the child.
- The husband can also claim alimony if the wife earns more.
6. Prohibition of dowry and harassment:
- The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 prohibits the dowry system. A woman can file a complaint against her parental family or her in-laws for the exchange of dowry.
- Any cases of cruelty she faces from her in-laws due to dowry can be reported under sections 304B and 498A of the IPC which criminalize dowry-related harassment.
- The section criminalizes bridal harassment in the form of cruelty, domestic violence (physical, emotional, or sexual harassment), incitement to suicide, and death for dowry.
- Marital rape has not yet been criminalized in India, but forced sex can be reported under the Domestic Violence and Dowry Harassment Act.
7. Right to Sdha treenot:
- Section 14 of the HSA of 1956 and Section 27 of the HMA of 1955 protect a woman’s right to Street dhan and gives him absolute ownership.
- A complaint may be filed under Section 19A of the DV Act if the duty is denied.
8. Right to claim custody of the child:
- The Guardian and Wards Act of 1890 grants equal custody rights and duties to both parents. However, if the child is under five, the mother has greater rights.
- A woman has the right to take the child with her when leaving the marital home without a court order.
- A woman can claim custody of her children after a divorce or separation, whether she is employed or unemployed. She can still claim alimony from her husband.
9. Right to live a life with dignity and self-respect and to have a committed relationship
- A woman has the legal right to independence, the same lifestyle as her husband, and the freedom to speak out against any injustice.
- She legally deserves a committed relationship in marriage. Adultery and polygamy are legal grounds for divorce.
- No law prohibits a married woman from studying or working.
Also read: Law And Her: Let’s be the women who know our legal rights
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