A bench of Rajasthan’s State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) recently urged the state as well as the Centre to enact a law prohibiting live-in relationships on the grounds that cohabitation without marriage deprives women of their right to a dignified life. The bench making this recommendation comprised of retired justices Prakash Tatia and Mahesh Chandra Sharma. Their letter further stated that women in live-in arrangements are akin to “concubines”, and that their situation prevents them from enjoying legal protections against domestic abuse. Not only do these assertions smack of rank misogyny, but they also lack any basis in actual fact.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 extends protection from physical, emotional, and mental abuse to both, women who are married, and those who have a “relationship in the nature of marriage.” Further, a 2015 Supreme Court judgement held that an unmarried couple cohabiting consensually would be presumed to be legally married, giving the woman, and progeny, if any, the same legal rights as a wife and a child. But, perhaps the SHRC can be excused from the burden of rooting its recommendations in facts, given that one of the bench members is recorded to have a passing relationship with them—in 2017, Justice Sharma had said that peacocks didn’t have sex, but impregnated peahens through their tears. Perhaps greater moral outrage should be reserved for the fact that yet again, men who subscribe to a notion of women’s “dignity” that belongs in the trash cans of the 20th century, are attempting, in the name of taking up the mantle of women’s “protection”, to crush their individual and sexual autonomy. In fact, the assumption underlying the SHRC’s statements violates the very female dignity that it proposes to protect—implying that women are gullible creatures who are “kept”, and treated as “concubines” already presumes that they are owned objects, serving the singular purpose of sex and procreation.
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Source: Financial Express