I am a professional who earns well. I am well-placed in society. And I call myself homeless.
When I grew up, I referred to the house I grew up as ‘my house’. When I told my friends that I was going home after school, I truly meant that I was going to ‘my home’. Slowly, I came to know that I have no ownership of my house. I happen to be a woman, and in our culture, women do not inherit the house. It is my brother’s house actually. So, now when I visit my house, I am a guest there.
After marriage, I went to my husband’s house. Some people said that I have to treat it as my own house. I say that is bullshit. Can I behave in my husband’s house like I would behave in the house I grew up in? Utter bullshit.
My husband and I began our life. We worked hard, and earned and income. We saved up, and bought a house. Now, can you guess whose house it is? Right, the house is bought in my husband’s name. So, legally, it is my husband’s house. I can live there as my husband’s wife. I, as an individual, do not have any rights to that house.
You see why I call myself homeless?
This system is actually a well thought out scheme, to ensure that a woman will always stay under the wings of the husband. Even if the woman is ill-treated, she will not leave. Where will she go? She does not have a home. If she wants a physically secure existence, she has to dance to the whims and fancies of her man. Because she has no place to go.
Of course it is understood that what belongs to the husband also belongs to the wife. However, it is understood only so far as the husband says so. Is there any law that says a husband cannot send a wife out of his house? I doubt it. Morally it is wrong, but is it wrong legally?
When women do not have ownership of land or house, she does not have psychological security. She does not have even a single physical thing to show as her own. She owns nothing. Even her children are named after the husband.
That brings us to the question: Does a woman exist on her own right, except as wife to someone, and daughter to someone?