No Wages for Love: Women’s Rights Within Families and Changing Economic Paradigm

18 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2018

Date Written: March 30, 2018


The neoliberal economy has changed the manner in which labour, love and relationships have been recognized, appreciated and structured in a society. The economic crisis which has cropped up in recent years, where the employment is shrinking, the economy is deteriorating, the common people are left with little options to earn their livelihoods and the state is rolling back from its welfare role, all this is making a significant impact on social relations. These economic changes are also making deep impact on the social institution of marriage and family which is weakening and is being threatened in the given neoliberal environment where money is replacing love, commercialization is substituting the social and the emotional bonds, the civic relations are waning and fading away and where the community support is gradually becoming extinct. The consumer paradigm in the free market economy now put an onus on the individual to seek services such as health, education or employment in the market rather than putting onus on the state or the community to provide for these basic services. This paradigm is deeply affecting the men and women on the margins. More importantly, when the institution of marriage breakdowns and the women are compelled to walk out of the marital relation with no support from the state, community or extended family, their situation becomes challenging. In the absence of the matrimonial property rights, women who abandoned, separated or are divorced, are deprived of any right to assets in the marital property owned by the husbands in the patriarchal society. Neither the law nor the society recognizes the contribution of women in the marital household. This paper looks at two cases going on or have been tried in the family courts and the struggle within the courtroom at the time when the institution of marriage breakdown and the individuals, as men and women, are being left vulnerable in their struggle for survival. It concludes that despite of the legal provisions relating to maintenance, mediation, protection of women against domestic violence, men and women and most importantly, men who are poor, and, women in general, are compelled to struggle in their daily lives. Neither the law could neither imagine the situations outside the paradox of the family nor the free market approach has helped in any way to advocate for the social policies that could offer alternatives lead a life with dignity in situations where economic, social and political life is transforming in the market driven economy. Trapped in the web of legal technicalities and the complexities of free market norms, these men and women are facing increasing vulnerabilities, where the state has refused to bail them out in any manner. It is therefore suggested that the law relating to divorce needs to be reconsidered with matrimonial property to be divided equally among the separating parties and more importantly the rights of women to marital property be examined. Giving women equal rights in the marital property is not only a moral imperative but also an economic necessity for any economy. It is also recommended that while considering the ill-effects of the capitalist economy, the concept of the provisions of social security and the welfare support measures need to strengthened, and in cases of breakdown of the institution of marriage, wherever required, special provisions to be made to support the women and children in vulnerable situations.

Keywords: Women, India, Courts, Family Court, Economics, Marital Property, Rights, Justice, Economy

Suggested Citation

Nigam, Shalu, No Wages for Love: Women’s Rights Within Families and Changing Economic Paradigm (March 30, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Shalu Nigam (Contact Author)

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