A couple in India who married in 2007 had their marriage bonds dissolved this week when the husband was granted a divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. The allegation of cruelty accepted by the court was that the wife dressed in a revealing manner on their honeymoon and thereafter.
She allegedly told her husband that she dressed to attract the attention of at least fifty people. The Delhi court denounced the wife and chastised her for suggesting that her husband’s desire to divorce her was related to her family’s unwillingness to provide a further dowry and not because of her provocative attire.
Dress codes for women differ between countries, however, in India a woman never displays her bosom, or her arms and legs. Traditional Indian attire, such as saris, cover a woman to ensure she maintains her modesty and dignity.
Indian culture is shaped by its religions including Hinduism, Sikhism and the Islamic faith. For Muslim women, the law of jihaab mandates that a woman’s body must be entirely covered with loose-fitting garments.
Sikh women must also dress conservatively but are not required to wear veils. Hindu women dress chastely but adorn themselves with a red dot and gold jewellery. The red dot originally was worn by women to indicate they were married, while today many woman display a red dot as a symbol of a “third eye”, the centre of spiritual energy and as a fashion statement.
It is apparent that the traditional view of mental cruelty as a danger to life, limb or health has expansive boundaries in India. But only for men.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang