Friday, February 13, 2009

Dowry Law - Chief Justice admits misuse

I blogged at length on dowry law fallacies in India. Now, the Chief Justice of India admits the law is misused (newslink). This is all good, but change is too slow.

Girija Vyas, the chairperson for National Commission for Women thinks it's not misuse, but "...lack of awareness amongst people that is exploited by lawyers and police...". It is unfortunate that such an influential person in authority doesn't realize that laws, no matter what, will be exploited by lawyers and police when possible, interpreted in different ways at different times, and such things are sometimes costly in terms of precious resource use such as police and courts, derail careers that impact the economy, can produce unjust outcomes and some laws may not accomplish the intended purpose.

This is why Marriage & Divorce laws must be carefully thought out, offer clear and predictable guidelines, and allow for win-win situations. Ms. Vyas should realize that she holds a very responsible position that controls the destiny of so many men and women, and not get caught up in the identity of "women". Her charter is empowerment and development of women as a section of society that currently needs attention, not so much as an association with identity of "women" (similar to "human rights" or "minority" commission), and if policies are devastating in certain ways, she would come out stronger by advocating changes, rather than being defensive. Else, people will lose faith in her and the commission, branding it with the identity of "women" or worse as "feminist". I think she would like to be remembered in history like Lord William Bentinck or Raja Rammohan Roy, who also fought for women's rights and made a difference, and not as a feminist -
I hope she can help it. As well, she should note they didn't react to every problem by creating a law!

No comments: