Wednesday 7 May 2014

Forced to walk on burning coal to prove chastity, city housewife granted divorce

The Family Court in Bandra recently granted divorce to a city housewife, after she said she was made to walk on burning coal by her husband to prove her chastity. The court also ordered the husband to pay maintenance to the woman and their two-yearold son. 

The court, which relied mainly on the testimony of the woman under oath as the husband did not appear to defend himself or deny the allegation, said there was no reason to disbelieve the petitioner. 

The 29-year-old woman (name withheld), currently living with her parents in Jogeshwari, had been married to her husband in Karnataka in November 2008. Two months later, the couple shifted to Dubai where the man worked. 

In her divorce petition, the woman alleged that soon after the marriage, in 2009, disputes arose between her and her husband. She told the court that she underwent an operation a year later, but instead of taking care of her she was thrown out of the house and sent back to India in 2010. 

The woman further told the court that she delivered a baby boy on December 8, 2010, but it took all of five months for her husband to come to Mumbai to see his child for the first time. What's more, during his stay in the city, her husband asked her to walk on burning coal to prove her chastity. She told the court that when she suffered burns due to the act, she was the one who was blamed as her husband said it was all her fault. 

Despite this, the woman said that in 2012 she took her son — then two years old — with her to Muscat to be with her husband who had switched jobs by then, but was driven home once again. She filed for divorce the same year. 

Though served a court notice, the woman's husband remained unavailable to defend himself during the course of the trial. While granting the divorce Judge S N Rukme ordered that the woman and child be paid maintenance of Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 each. 

"It is the duty of a responsible husband/father to provide all comforts as per his capacity to his wife and child. Evidence shows that the petitioner was always willing to continue relations, but the respondent did not take proper care of her and the child," the judge observed. "On the contrary, it appears that the respondent was superstitious as he asked the petitioner to walk on burning coal, and when she suffered injury, he blamed her for it."
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