Katna village: Impotence can also be grounds for annulment of a marriage if the condition existed at the time the couple got married and the impotence was discovered later. An annulment is a legal procedure for declaring a marriage null and void.
Similarly a newly-married Fatima Biwi (name changed) 18-year-old from Katna village in Murshidabad was cheated into marrying an “impotent” man. She moved the family court seeking divorce from him and Rs 55,000 cash and assets worth Rs 55,000, which Fatima brought as dowry.
Fatima won the case on Saturday. She first approached Shabnam Ramaswami, founder of an NGO called Street Survivors India.
Ramaswami said: “Since 2002, villagers have been approaching us to sort out their problems. This includes cases where a woman or a man have problems in their relationships or when a girl has been denied her rights to her house and assets. At our Stree Shakti Prokalpo, we have a forum where women’s issues are discussed. Fatima’s case was addressed here.”
On speaking to Fatima, she said, “On our wedding night, I realised that my husband has erectile dysfunction. In our village, marriages have broken up earlier. But no girl has ever cited impotence as a reason.”
She said. “I had gone to this village for some research work when I heard about this on-going dispute from Shabnam (Ramaswami). While the groom’s family wanted Fatima to give some time before walking out, her family insisted the marriage be called off immediately. They feared the delay might lead to Fatima being branded infertile.”
Ramaswami said. “On Friday, they were taken to the Kandi court. The cost of the divorce was borne by both families. Wasim’s family has handed me the cash to be returned to the bride’s family. Wasim’s mother has requested that in lieu of the assets, she would rather give Rs 55,000 to Fatima’s family. That money has already been paid on Friday. I have also assured Wasim that I will connect him to a sexologist to address his issue.”
Fatima said. “On Wednesday, Wasim’s (her husband) family is going to come over to take the divorce papers. That’s when the dowry money will be returned to us formally .”
Some from her village had taunted Fatima for speaking up openly on such an issue. But Fatima said. “Had I not spoken up, I would have had to suffer all my life.”
She said. “On our wedding night, I realised that my husband has erectile dysfunction. In our village, marriages have broken up earlier. But no girl has ever cited impotence as a reason.”