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Women cannot be turned out of their home just because they do not own it (Photo: PTI)
Women cannot be turned out of their home just because they do not own it (Photo: PTI)

No, women can’t be shown the door

  • India’s apex court had upheld the right of a woman to stay in her marital home even if she doesn’t own it. This could relieve victims of domestic abuse who fear being thrown out for filing charges

The Supreme Court on Thursday clarified that a woman is entitled to claim her right to residence in a “shared household" where she has been living with her husband even if the said premises belong to his relatives. This is a welcome judgment, though should ideally have come earlier. In a 2005 case, a woman was unable to claim any legal right to live in a house owned by her mother-in-law.

The apex court, while passing the judgment, also said that the progress of any society depends on its ability to protect and promote the rights of its women. This has to be read in light of the huge number of domestic violence cases the nation has seen. According to data released earlier by the National Family Health Survey, around 30% of Indian women have faced physical, emotional or sexual abuse by their husbands. During the lockdown, this spiked—touching a 10-year high of 31, 1,477 complaints of domestic violence (between March and May 2020). This number does not reflect the actual situation, as it’s estimated that over 86% of victims choose not to seek help, and so the crime goes reported.

Women do not find it easy to obtain justice in such cases. One of their top concerns has always been “where do I go, where will I live?" The current judgment therefore offers a beacon of hope to victims of domestic violence. They can file charges without worrying about a roof over their heads.

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