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Treat Daughters-in-Law as Family Members, Not Maids, Says Supreme Court

A daughter in law cannot be "thrown out of her matrimonial home at any time" and should be treated as a family member. The respect accorded to her "reflects the sensitivity of a civilized society," says the Supreme Court.

Treat Daughters-in-Law as Family Members, Not Maids, Says Supreme Court

Daughters-in-law in India are often not treated with respect and dignity in their marital homes but are abused and given the status of hired help. No less than the Supreme Court of India has said so, expressing concern over instances of brides being burnt and tortured in the country.

A daughter-in-law cannot be “thrown out of her matrimonial home at any time” and should be treated as a family member. The respect accorded to her “reflects the sensitivity of a civilized society,” the apex court stated.

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“Respect of a bride in her matrimonial home glorifies the solemnity and sanctity of marriage, reflects the sensitivity of a civilised society and eventually epitomises her aspirations dreamt of in nuptial bliss…But the manner in which sometimes the bride is treated in many a home by the husband, in-law and the relatives creates a feeling of emotional numbness in society,” it said.

The court made the statements in the context of upholding the sentence of seven-year jail term to a man for torturing his wife, who committed suicide.

“It is a matter of grave concern and shame that brides are burned or otherwise their life-sparks are extinguished by torture, both physical and mental, because of demand of dowry and insatiable greed and sometimes, sans demand of dowry, because of cruelty and harassment meted out to the nascent brides, treating them with total insensitivity, destroying their desire to live and forcing them to commit suicide, a brutal self-humiliation of life,”said justices KS Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said.

The Supreme Court’s statements were welcomed not just by women’s groups but by people all across the country.

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