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“If A Woman Feels She Is Nothing Without A Man, That Is A Failure Of The System”, Observes Kerala HC

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Society as per the definition shared by Oxford is an organization of people who share a particular interest or purpose. One might also say such societies would include people associated together for similar beliefs, traditions, political, cultural or patriotic views or other purposes. And while up until now, for us the common purpose for people at large would be defined by their tradition, or social territory, now the common purpose seems only to defy and subdue women. But not if Kerala HC has a say.

As though systematically working to bring women down, our society has played a major role in gaslighting women into thinking they are nothing without their male counterparts. A fact that has been recently addressed by the Kerala High Court while considering the plea of a reunited couple to get back their child who was adopted by a childless couple.

Looking deeply into the woes of a single mother in a country like ours, Kerala High Court during a plea observation stated that, ‘if a woman feels she is nothing without the support of a man, that is the failure of the system’. Which perhaps it is. The court further observed and quoted a sanskrit couplet to make their point as they said, “Yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra Devata, yatraitaastu na pujyante sarvaastatrafalaah kriyaah.” (Where women are honoured, divinity blossoms there, and where women are dishonored, all action no matter how noble remain unfruitful.”)

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The observation came by after Justice A Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Kauser Edappagath came across the plea of John and Anitha (names changed), the couple who was fighting to get the custody of their child back. As the case suggested, John and Anitha met during the Kerala floods in 2018, and soon get into a live-in relationship. It was then, that Anitha got pregnant and gave birth to their child.

However later, since John was an artist, he left for Mumbai to try his luck at acting, while Anitha was left behind. All efforts that Anitha made to reach out to John were in vain. Distressed and devastated, Anitha decided to give up her child to the Child Welfare Committee on May 8, 2020. Still not losing touch and contact with the committee, to ensure her child is safe and being looked after, Anitha submitted messages where in the court saw how easy and vulnerable it is for women to become pregnant.

The court also acknowledged the desperation and pain that reflected from Anitha’s messages to the social worker, where despite wanting to take care of her child, Anitha felt compelled to give the baby up, all because her partner had  left her. On February 2, 2021, the baby was finally adopted.

However, things took turn when John came back, the couple reunited and filed the case for the custody of their child that was given up for adoption. The bench of Kerala HC observed, that in view of the willingness of the biological father to take care of the child, the committee should consider the couple’s plea. The court also set aside the certificate declaring that the child was legally free for adoption under section 38 of the Juvenile Justice Act.

But it was what the bench said next, that really made all of us tune in and listen. The Kerala HC said, “In a state where we boast cent per cent literacy, our attitude to a woman is despising; a single mother has no financial or social support. She faces emotional challenges and is forced to believe she is destined to be isolated as a result of guilt. She gets hardly any support from the system. It is time for the government to evolve a scheme to support the single mother.”

“The anomie Anitha had to face as a single mother is a hurdle created by society. Anitha never attempted to exterminate her womb; she bore the pain to give birth; like every mother, she loved to care for the child, but was not allowed by circumstances in society,” said the Kerala HC.

“”She thought without the support of a man, she cannot survive. If a woman feels she is nothing without the support of the man that is the failure of the system. She shall not succumb to the temptation of giving up. The power of humans in this universe is the power of motherhood. It is for the State to make her realize that her struggle with the forces undermining her existence can be validated with the support of rule of law. That self-belief must be her identity and respect due to her,” observed the court while pointing out the very flaw in our patriarchal society.

The bench also added, “a woman’s womb is a precious possession of her personhood and no one can claim right over it; except with her consent.” It is a shame to see that women are still made to feel inadequate, and incompetent parents without their partners. Finally, someone is willing to address the elephant in the room.

Also Read : A Court In Japan Ordered A Woman To Compensate A Man For Sleeping With His Wife


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