The meaning of true women empowerment in marriages as advocated by feminists is not giving her alimony. The provision of alimony does not actually empower her. Empowerment is the first step towards liberation and the mandate of liberation is financial freedom with dignity. And here comes the million dollar question, “Does alimony guarantee financial freedom with dignity?” Before answering these questions, a look into the pitfalls of the alimony system is warranted as entailed below:
1) Alimony makes the woman dependent on the man and the system for sustenance provision.
2) As alimony is tax – free it pinches the man that his hard earned money is going as a tax free sop whereas he does not get the benefit out of it.
3) Tax free alimony increases the greed of the woman and she misuses the machinery meant to protect her to raise the bar of alimony and therein sets the foundation of Legal Terrorism.
4) One time alimony can never act as lifetime sustenance option.
5) Degrades, denigrates and demeans the social position of the woman.
6) Act as a tempting and motivating factor towards breaking marriages.
Above pitfalls demarcate the fact that “Alimony does not guarantee financial freedom with dignity. Keeping in mind the above arguments, if alimony is replaced by loan with the following features, it will act as a true step towards women empowerment without men entrapment. There should be alimony only where,
a) Social handicap like some communities do not allow the woman to work.
b) Low relative education.
c) Long break in career due to matrimony.
d) Unemployable due to proper qualification but without adequate training.
e) Physical handicap.
f) Mental handicap.
g) Onerous or special responsibilities like one or two years after child birth.
While alimony is warranted only for situations under conditions (a) and (f) above viz. Social handicap and Mental handicap, for other cases, alimony can actually act as a deterrent to true empowerment i.e. financial freedom with dignity if awarded in other categories. This is where the concept of loan chips in. Instead of giving the wife alimony, give her loan from the husband which is repayable at 3 % annual interest.
The wife can use this loan to empower herself either by using that loan to start a small time business or do some training to get a job or to ensure some other financial instrument like a Mutual Fund investment and upon earning can repay the loan back. The best advantage of this system is that it acts as a win – win situation for both the husband and the wife.
The husband knows that it is a loan that is repayable and does not feel the pinch in providing the financial assistance to his estranged wife. Also the wife feels really empowered as now she is getting an opportunity to be on her without being a burden. This will hasten the lengthy divorces and the courts will also be less burdened leading to an improvement in the social justice system.
And it will not be in out of place to mention here that when there is an alternative being suggested to women empowerment, it also needs to be reminded to the fathers of daughters to empower them in a reasonably sufficient manner to be on their own and when they fail to do so it becomes their moral responsibility to share the empowerment in case the marriage falls apart and it will be appropriate in cases (b) and (d) to put the onus of the said loan on a 50 – 50 basis between the father and the husband of the woman.