Sunday, November 04, 2007

HIV/AIDS Based Divorce Ruling

I happened to come across this old ruling by a judge in Delhi.

Though the ruling is old, I think it is definitely a debate of huge importance in our times, and it will shape the future of HIV infected people and their spouses in India. No doubt that this decision is a cruel one for the HIV positive person, but we do need consider the consequences of this decision (or it's opposite) before deciding which way we lean.

One view is that though this ruling is cruel for the infected person, it would be of great help to the woman in the Indian society. I don't know the real numbers, but I feel it would safe to assume that in our society more men get this disease because of their promiscuous behavior and then communicate it to their wives unknowingly or may be at times carelessly. In such a situation, a verdict like this would certainly be a great boon for the women who don't want to stay with such a husband.

Another view would be that women married to HIV infected spouse will stay with them anyways because of our society's belief that woman has to spend her life serving her man, and women leaving their husbands in sickness would be really looked down upon and we can't even imagine what kind of witch-hunt or mob-justice would be used to punish such females unfairly, who will take divorce from their HIV infected husband unfairly. At the same time, males would be able to easily use this precedent to divorce their HIV infected wifes at will without any fingers being raised.

Third way to look at this could be the intellectual way of thinking that it is an issue of rights of healthy person versus rights of an HIV infected person. Definitely that debate can go on for very long and would be very interesting too. In fact, I am not sure which side I will be in that debate. But ideologically I believe that everyone should get a choice to live their lives the way they want, which would translate into the favor of the judgment, though I don't agree with the logic provided by the judge. But at the same time we do need to make sure that just providing a right is of no use if we cannot ensure that the rights given to people can be exercised by every individual without any hindrance, especially by those belonging to the weaker sections of society. Unfortunately, our society doesn't have a good track record of ensuring the rights of marginalized and minority are safeguarded. So I am in favor of keeping the discussion open to come up with innovative ideas to safeguard the rights of women in this case.