Are Women Liars? Supreme Court's Judgment Ignores Lived Reality of Married Women

The Supreme Court's judgment in the Rajesh Sharma v State of UP which passed adverse remarks about the "misuse" of Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code by women to harass their husbands and in-laws, ignores the lived realities of a vast majority of married women. It completely ignores the fact that the aggrieved woman approaches the police and courts as a last resort and in the face of intolerable cruelty.

The judgment of the Supreme Court in Rajesh Sharma vs State of UP delivered on 27 July 2017 seems to convey that the violence inflicted upon women is a mere figment of their imagination and that cases registered under the anti-dowry law—Section 498A, of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) are false. Further, it implies that women are irrational beings. Without weighing the implications of their actions, in the heat of the moment, they file false complaints of cruelty and dowry demands. Later, when reality dawns they want to retract and save their marriages. But by then it is too late, the marriage is broken irretrievably. Mind you, the marriage does not break because the husband’s family demands dowry, humiliates the woman or throws her out of the matrimonial home. The only reason that marriages break, according to our judges, is because the wife approaches the police and file a complaint. Adding insult to injury, the judges proclaim that the guidelines issued by them to the police not to arrest the accused until a family welfare committee investigates the case and sends in a report will be beneficial to the wife.

This narrative projected by our judges is totally out of tune with the lived realities of women.

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