"You're a housewife, what work do you do sitting at home all day?"
This is a question which would probably irk homemakers world over. The perception that housewives do not have much work and lots of leisure time is a popular one. It is misplaced, and could not be further from the truth.
In a thoughtful observation questioning this patriarchal notion, the Karnataka High Court said recently that homemakers are as busy as professionals.
The HC made the observation while hearing a case where a man challenged a family court's order mandating him to pay his estranged wife travel expenses. Gaurav Raj Jain (37) argued that his stay-at-home wife had enough time on her hands to travel via train and did not need to take flights.
Gaurav (37) had married Shweta (34) in 2009 in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. However, due to differences between the couple, Gaurav filed for divorce at a family court in April 2016 in Bengaluru, while Shweta was living in Muzzafarnagar, UP.
When Shweta filed a transfer application before the Supreme Court, it was dismissed in July 2017 as the apex court said she could claim “requisite expenditure” when she needed to travel to attend hearings.
Consequently a family court directed Gaurav in February 2018 to pay travel expenses worth Rs 32,114 to Shweta, who had traveled for attending hearings on November 3, 2017 and February 1, 2018.
However, Gaurav’s counsel argued that because Shweta was a homemaker, she did not fit into the “requisite expenditure” as specified by the Supreme Court. Gaurav contended that Shweta had free time to travel by train instead.
The Karnataka High Court however observed that the Supreme Court has not limited the requisite expenditure to train travel.
The HC not only acknowledged that homemakers are as busy as working professionals, but also said that Gaurav's contention was misplaced and showed want for gender justice.
Justice S Raghavendra Chauhan said that the husband could decide his wife's mode of transport. And should the woman decide to travel by air, it could not be used as a way for the husband to avoid paying the requisite expenses.
He also observed, “A large number of people continue (to believe) that a housewife is ‘free’. A housewife is as busy as a professional. She is responsible for looking after members of family and for running the house, (and it) is not easy.”