Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 20 April 2024 10.15 AM IST

Real Housewives of India


In olden days, there were no electrical appliances to make household chores easier. It was the coherent joint family system that helped many escape the burden of domestic chores. As the number of members in the household was large, it would not have seemed much of a difficulty when the tasks were undertaken by many.

This peculiar situation has turned into a thing of the past. Nuclear families are now the talk of the town. Everything from cooking to cleaning has to be done by just one or two members of the household. This can feel doubly burdensome if both of the couples have jobs. The housework done by an unemployed wife is equally laborious.

It is archaic to ignore the hard work of housewives while adulating the work done by employees in the government and private sector. The Supreme Court too has expressed its concern in the government's treatment of housewives. The High Court observed that the life of a housewife is as valuable as the life of others who earn a living. The observation by Justices Suryakant and K.V. Viswanathan came while increasing the compensation money in a case where the housewife died in a car accident. The court remained resolute saying the compensation cannot be reduced just because the victim happens to be a housewife.

The court held that their contributions were invaluable and could not be quantified on a financial basis. The Supreme Court also directed that the courts and tribunals should take into account the hard work and sacrifices of the housewives while deciding the compensation in cases of death in road accidents.

The tribunal awarded Rs 2.5 lakh as compensation to the family of a housewife who died in a car accident in Uttarakhand in 2006. The High Court made a parochial observation saying that the housewife, her age and the hypothetical income she would have had if she had lived would have been equal to the amount fixed by the Tribunal and upheld the tribunal's decision to pay Rs 2.5 lakh. In the appeal filed by the family, the Supreme Court ordered the compensation to be increased to Rs 6 lakh, thus reinstating the pride and esteem of crores of housewives in India.

In the 2011 census, 15 crore women were recorded as domestic workers. 58 lakh men have shown housework as an occupation. Devaluing unpaid housework by housewives is unbecoming of a civilized society. Many housewives in our society have given up lucrative jobs despite having sufficient qualifications, only to keep the family rhythm going and to raise children.

It is the sacrifice and hard work of housewives that lead to the survival and growth of many families. The view that only salaried jobs are 'real jobs' is a skewed notion that warrants a quick change.

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