An Indian woman has obtained divorce from her US-resident husband who had sought to force her "to eat beef and pork and generally discard her Indian ways." The Bombay High Court on Friday upheld an order of the family court on the issue, saying the husband's actions were tantamount to cruelty.
Their glitzy marriage took place in June 2002, befitting the status of the man who is a resident of the US. But things turned sour quickly.
The woman claimed in her petition that her husband her cut her hair and made her eat beef and pork, even asking her to cook meat on days when she was fasting, "showing no respect for Gods and Hindu deities."
When she refused, he would deny her money to buy Indian food, and she had to survive on bread and jam.
Also while on a trip to Hawaii, he forced her to wear "short and vulgar dresses," "mix with boys and girls in parties" and later uploaded her photographs on websites.
While denying that he had uploaded her photographs, the husband's counsel argued that there was no cruelty in asking one's wife to cook a certain food or wear a particular kind of outfit.
"She married him with the full knowledge that she was required to settle in America. Consequently she cannot make any complaints regarding the lifestyle which she was required to follow," the husband's advocate contended, adding that she was expected to "adjust" to the environment of the new country.
Dismissing such arguments Justice P B Majumdar and Justice R V More of the Bombay High Court, said, "It is not expected from (the woman) to sacrifice her own culture and adopt an atmosphere which may not suit a lady (brought up in a) different Indian culture altogether. To ask a wife to wear a particular type of outfit or compelling her to take wine or alcohol, in our view, can be said to be an act of cruelty to the wife. Even if the husband compels the wife to mix with his friends when she is unwilling, it would also amount to cruelty to her."
During the hearing of the appeal, the husband offered divorce if only the woman would withdraw all the criminal cases she had registered against him under the cyber crime laws for allegedly uploading her photographs, but the woman refused.
Reacting to her allegation that her photographs in short dresses of the couple's trip to Hawaii were uploaded on websites under fake profiles, the judges said, "Normally no wife will tolerate the projection of her photographs on websites."
The judges went on to warn, "This is an eye-opener for parents whose daughter is going to marry a person settled in a foreign country. In such cases they are required to take appropriate care to find out the credentials of the person who has settled in the other country. If the matrimonial knot is tied without proper verification, it may result in serious difficulties, as has happened in the present case."