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Divorce to make Mizoram women poorer

Guwahati, Friday , Apr 02, 2010: Divorced women in Mizoram will now lose the right to property and the custody of children as the state has allowed the Mizo Divorce Ordinance, promulgated in 2008, to lapse by not bringing in a Bill to replace it.

With the expiry of the Ordinance, brought in by Zoramthanga’s Mizo National Front government nearly a month before the 2008 Assembly elections — a hurried step to get votes by wooing the divorced women, the Congress had alleged — divorced women will be governed by the Mizo customary laws, which do not ensure their rights over property or maintenance. The Indian Divorce Act, 1869 does not apply to Mizoram and other Northeastern states.

This means a Mizo wife loses property and custody of children the moment her husband utters ‘ka ma che (I divorce you)’. She is entitled to take back only the customary ‘hmeichhe thuam’ (a mattress, two pillows and her clothes).

Now if she is divorced for allegedly committing adultery then she is not entitled to even these few things and will have to leave with just the clothes she is wearing. The number of divorced women in the state has been on the rise in recent years.

But why did the Congress government in the state not bring a Bill to replace the Ordinance? Law Minister Lalsawta said they have referred the matter to the State Law Commission “for a detailed study” that will help draw a “more comprehensive Bill to be introduced later this year”. The ordinance, Lalsawta said, did not include “important provisions benefiting divorced women”.

Mizoram Women’s Commission Chairperson Rozami supports the government on the issue. She said provisions of Mizo customary laws “are good enough for divorce-seeking women if interpreted in the right way”.

Source: Indian Express

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