Socialist Worker

Divorce this sexist system

Issue No. 2547

Marriage can lock women unwillingly in relationships as a new ruling has highlighted

Marriage can lock women unwillingly in relationships as a new ruling has highlighted (Pic: jairoflash/Pixabay)


Two court rulings have trapped a woman in a “desperately unhappy” marriage after refusing to let her divorce her husband.

A family court judge ruled last year that Tini Owens didn’t have the right to a divorce because her husband didn’t agree to it.

Judge Robin Tolson told Owens that her reasons for wanting a divorce were an “exercise in scraping the barrel”.

And at an appeal last week a judge said Owens’ marriage had not broken down “in law”.

Divorce law says a couple have to “prove” their marriage has broken down to be allowed a divorce. Or they have to have lived apart for two years—five if one side doesn’t agree.

The case exposes how sexism is deeply rooted in a system that controls women’s bodies and lives.

Ideas that women’s role in society is to take responsibility for caring seem increasingly old fashioned to ever more people.But such reactionary ideas are still vital to capitalist society—as its laws show.

A woman still does not have the automatic right to end a relationship—just as women still don’t have the automatic right to an abortion.

In the 1917 Russian Revolution women won the right to a divorce on demand.

It’s a damning indictment of our society that women in Britain still don’t have that right 100 years later.


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