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Baluben and Monghiben take charge

By Nachiketa Desai

With guidance from the NGO Utthan, women from traditional, feudal households in Saurashtra, Gujarat, are taking charge -- promoting water harvesting, ousting moneylenders and insisting that development projects provide employment to local villagers

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Shabana:'I have the right to sell my body - and I will sell it'

By Atul Tiwari

What does it mean to be a woman in prostitution? What does it mean to sell sex? In a first-person excerpt from 'Unzipped: Women and Men in Prostitution Speak Out', recently published by Point of View, Mumbai, the feisty Shabana, who works the highways on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border, but also distributes condoms in collaboration with two voluntary agencies, opens up to the reader her world of exploitation, survival, empowerment, victimhood and choice.

The testimonies of the men and women who speak out in 'Unzipped' chip away at the myth that those in prostitution are eternal victims -- with no power to deal with the situations in which they find themselves. They also tell us that it is not just poverty that forces women into prostitution, but poverty acting in concert with gender. Until we stop marrying young girls off, until we stop burning, harassing and discriminating against young girls in ways big and small, the family will not be a safe place for young girls. The family will be a place to run away from...into the arms of a pimp, a shyster, or even a distant relative who is a gateway to prostitution.

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Heat and dust, struggle and success

By Huned Contractor

Travelling through the villages of Gujarat, Huned Contractor finds that women have shrugged off the tradition of centuries to assume the dual roles of wage-earners and housewives. Women who had never travelled outside their villages now speak about their work at international fora. Harijan women who had to sit on the floor now proudly occupy the chair of the deputy sarpanch. It's nothing short of a revolution

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Women in white: India's widows

Following the recent announcement that the National Human Rights Commission will now coordinate governmental and non-governmental measures to help the widows of Vrindavan and the rest of the country, this article discusses the situation and problems of widows in India, past and present

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Marriage and divorce: mental cruelty by the wife

By Rakesh Shukla

In this case of granting a divorce on grounds of mental cruelty by the wife, the Supreme Court seems to have gone out of its way to change the parameters of what constitutes mental cruelty on the part of the woman. It could have far-reaching consequences for future cases

Mental cruelty

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Gap between law in theory and in praxis

A recent Bombay High Court judgment stating that a daughter ceases to be part of a father’s family on marriage, coupled with reports that a lady judge has listed her daughters as liabilities in her public declaration of assets, underlines just how subjective law is, says Rakesh Shukla

law on sati

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Patriarchy cedes to gender equality

By Rakesh Shukla

Deeply entrenched patriarchy continues in modern India, from the airlines to the armed forces. But the Supreme Court’s November 2011 judgment, stating that Air India’s policy of appointing only males as in-flight supervisors was patently discriminatory, is a victory

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Child custody in the context of foreign court orders

By Rakesh Shukla

In a matrimonial dispute case involving a child, where the child was removed from his natural environment (the US) by the mother, and brought to India, the Supreme Court of India ruled that it was the child’s best interests that must be given priority. Both mother and son were ordered to return to the US within 15 days

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Free to choose: Mental retardation and reproductive choice

By Rakesh Shukla

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India struck down a high court order to terminate the pregnancy of a mentally retarded woman, against her will

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Apex court rules anew on cruelty by husband and relatives

By Rakesh Shukla

The Supreme Court does not just decide individual cases -- it lays down the law of the land. A recent ruling in which the apex court held that kicking a woman and threatening her with divorce do not amount to cruelty could set an unhealthy precedent

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SC flip-flops on irretrievable breakdown of marriage

By Rakesh Shukla

The Supreme Court has in the past granted divorce based on irretrievable breakdown of marriage, but a recent judgment dismisses it. The law must be settled once and for all, in the best interests of society

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Sexual harassment at defence establishments

By Rakesh Shukla

If a woman employed in the defence services files sexual harassment charges at the workplace, she is likely to be further harassed by the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against her, as the recent case of the principal of Army Public School demonstrates

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Medical expenses and maintenance

By Rakesh Shukla

In a judgment regarding medical reimbursement to a wife by her husband, the Supreme Court observed that the terms ‘maintenance’ and ‘support’ include means of living, food, clothes, shelter, recreation, health, proper care, nursing and medical assistance during sickness. Therefore, a wife is entitled to get medical reimbursement from her husband as part of maintenance

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Maintenance for wife and children: final and interim

By Rakesh Shukla

What is the law’s position on maintenance for the wife and children, after a divorce? What happens if the courts take years to arrive at a final decision regarding maintenance? Can the wife and children avail of interim maintenance during pendency of the proceedings?

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The finer points of dowry death

By Rakesh Shukla

In Baldev Singh versus State of Punjab 2008 (11) SCALE 120, although a demand by the husband for a fair share for his wife in her father’s property did not constitute a demand for dowry there were other circumstances and evidence to prove that the wife was being harassed by her husband and her in-laws for dowry, and subsequently died, making it a dowry death

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The 'husband' in the context of cruelty, dowry death and the validity of marriage

By Rakesh Shukla

How does one interpret the expression “husband” in the context of the offences of cruelty and dowry demands, in cases where the validity of the marriage is in question?

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Who is a legally wedded wife?

By Rakesh Shukla

If a woman is duped into marriage by a man who is already married, and then deserted, can she claim maintenance for herself and her children?

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Hindu women and adoption

By Rakesh Shukla

A recent Supreme Court judgment in the case of a disabled woman from Madhya Pradesh highlighted that a married Hindu woman cannot adopt a child

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SC upholds the importance of informed consent

By Rakesh Shukla

Can a doctor remove a patient’s organs without informed consent, in the course of surgery, even if he thinks it’s in the patient’s best interest? In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court decreed that correctness or appropriateness of the treatment procedure does not make the treatment legal in the absence of consent

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Love, romance and the age of marriage

By Rakesh Shukla

Legally, a Hindu bridegroom should be aged 21 and a bride 18. However, several girls over 15 but under 18 elope to marry men of their choice. In many cases, the boy is subsequently arrested and charged with rape and kidnapping. What does the court do in such circumstances?

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