Friday 1 February 2019

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

01 February 2019

Divorce & Legal Culture

Divorce as an experience is positive when it is an escalation of truth to strengthen family, community and national structures. When the Sri Lankan president uttered the ‘butterfly’ / gay status to demote his opposition, there were outcries from various sections of the Sri Lankan society. Those who expressed them were more educated and conscious of their rights to protest against such cheap attacks.
As per Ceylon Today article ‘Divorced women at high risk of workplace harassment - Local study’ based on research by Professor Arosha S. Adikaram
[ was found in the study that, in their intra-gender relations, these divorced women posed a threat to other women due to their breaking away from social expectations and ideologies as well as established gendered hierarchies in the society and the workplace, this too leading to mistreatment and unfair treatment at the workplace.]
I found that to be the case in Sri Lankan courts also. In Colombo a Muslim lawyer tried to demote me by referring to my divorce in our land matter. It had no relevance to the land matter but was used to demote me as a witness. This confirms that in that court – as per the that lawyer’s assessment of the judge – a Divorced woman’s status was less than that of one who married only once and stayed in that marriage. That may hold true in some cases but not in all – certainly not in my case. Here in Australia that ticket does not take you forward in a Court of law. Saying you are Sri Lankan would in some cases. But not Divorcee. This is because Australians have discovered the positive value of divorce which prevents exploitation.
In Mallakam courts the judge joined the lawyers’ chorus and asked my sister in law in opposition – as to what she wanted in the testamentary case?  - whether she wanted equal share? My sister in law said yes and it was delivered by the judge. My sister in law in opposition referred to my divorce and confirmed that our children were from the previous marriage. All this was done to influence the judge’s mind as per social order. The law – be it Thesawalamai or common law was merely book in the shelves of the Court library. The social convenience of the judge was the law in practice. Neither judge disciplined the lawyers and/or the litigant.

But in Jaffna high court – Judge Elancheleyan did discipline the opposition lawyer who referred to my second marriage. The judge simply asked words to the effect ‘that is a lawful marriage isn’t it?’
Divorce became respectable due to the post-divorce success of divorced women. Those who endured divorce pain develop protective structures for their true heirs. This is needed strongly by the Northern woman in Sri Lanka where the percentage of single women has increased dramatically due to the war. Widows face similar risk as divorcees due to their status being lower than that of women with spouses as per popular custom of that area at that time.

Whether it be the judge, lawyer or litigant, they would not use marital status as a tool in unrelated matters if their own marriages were sacred to them.

My sister in law could have stated that according to her – only blood relatives were entitled to inherit the family wealth. But in a court of law that is not valid and rightly so. As per the truth of the family that very sister and her husband were in Australia because of me. If that biological connection was important to the lady – she ought to have returned to Sri Lanka and then made that claim. This was in fact suggested by my husband at one stage. But they were deaf to it. They got the outcome they liked and lost the real heritage of Thesawalamai Law.

As per Thesawalamai law – those who take lesser share of the parental wealth during the parents’ lifetime become the first heirs to the parental wealth which sometimes would be negative in terms of money. But those who respect that rule would inherit the mind of Thesawalamai.

In plain language – Lord Buddha also ‘divorced’ his wife when he left palace life to become a mendicant. The purpose was to realise the higher common values of life. Likewise any divorce that leads to higher common values – is positive. By the same rule – any marriage that leads to selfishness is negative. Our true governance value is the net of all these values of the primary level citizen.

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