Wives who separate from their husbands will not be entitled to maintenance payments from their ex-husbands if they later have a relationship with another man, an Indian high court judge has ruled.
Justice S Nagamuthu said that even if a woman has separated from her husband, she commits adultery by engaging in another relationship - thereby disqualifying her from financial maintenance.
The Indian Express reports that in his ruling at Madras High Court, the judge said: “Since a man carries an obligation to maintain his divorced wife, the woman also carries the obligation not to live in a relationship with another man. If she commits breach… she will suffer disqualification from claiming maintenance.”
He added that when a woman enters a sexual or romantic relationship with a man, she becomes his financial responsibility: “If she wants to live in a relationship with another man, she may be entitled to maintenance from him and not from the former husband.”
Within India, much social stigma surrounding divorce pervades, especially for women.
The country’s marriage and divorce laws have been criticised for failing to protect women and leaving them vulnerable to domestic and sexual violence.
Under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, rape within marriage is legal. Studies have also found that a high number of Indian women remain in relationships where they experience domestic violence out of fear of the stigma attached to divorce.