Some thoughts on the debate surrounding the Women’s Charter
April 26, 2014, 2:05 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Gender, Singapore

womens charter

The debate on the whether the Women’s Charter should be reviewed and renamed has surfaced again, and rightly so.

For many years now, I view it with disdain as I consider many aspects of the Women’s Charter outdated and hence, irrelevant to our society in this day and age.

Being outdated, several aspects of the Women’s Charter have contributed to the flawed understanding of feminism and feminists, as well as the movement to achieve gender equity. Unintentionally, these aspects also contribute towards the continuation of gender stereotypes, and gender discrimination.

Now, the Women’s Charter was relevant at a time when women were held disadvantaged by feudal practices when it came to marriage and gender. It was indeed a great achievement in the quest to emancipate women from such disadvantaged positions. In order to maintain its relevancy however, it should also be progressively reviewed so as to achieve greater equity within the society whose members the Act strives to protect.

Regarding the debate, some have called for the total abolition of alimony while others think that alimony should stay. I feel that the issue cannot be debated or discussed based on such a binary as there are many factors we have to consider. So here are my thoughts:

For those seeking for the abolition of alimony, I hope you will consider this –

Although in this day and age whereby the employment opportunities and education levels of women have improved, it is still not going to be a smooth sailing journey for women to immediately get a job after being full time home makers for several years. Alimony when granted, should cover this period of time as it is just fair to ensure that women who were fully dependent on their former partners, are able to financially survive while attempting to get back into the workforce again. The amount should be reasonable, and equivalent to the amount she was being supported with before.

For those who insist that alimony should solely be granted to women –

This is pure sexism, and promotes the idea that women are an inferior and are not able to support themselves. This insistence also discriminates men who have been home makers, and dependent on their wives financially. They should equally be eligible for alimony as well, in the time where they try to get back into the workforce.

This hasn’t been brought up as far as I have read, but should be considered –

Where children are involved, I am of the opinion that both parents should contribute to a child support fund, that will ensure that children coming from broken families do not suddenly become financially disadvantaged as a result of the divorce – something which they did not ask for.

Custody of children – 

Granting of custody should seriously cease to be bias. Society should cease to see men as inferior individuals when it comes to providing a nurturing and supportive environment for their children, and women should ceased to be seen as having more ability to do so.

In addition, no parent should restrict the other of visitation rights unless there are concrete evidences that this will put their children in dangerous positions of being harmed (e.g., all forms of abuse).

Regarding the name of the Women’s Charter –

Let’s just name it the Family Charter, or Family Law Act instead, because this is what it is all about.


11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Good write up.

On custody of children, I’d like to reiterate that considerations should be based on best interest of child.
About period of alimony, I think it’s kind of difficult to determine based on the dependent spouse ability to get back into ‘independence’. One can simply not seek a job actively and continue to draw on alimony or the job market so bad that both parties have difficulties living like it was.

Comment by ape@kinjioleaf

Regarding alimony period – this is where I think our social workers can come in.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Behind every great man, there is a great woman (waiting to rob him blind).

Comment by Yolanda

I am pretty disgusted by this comment – very sexist, and thoughtless.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Well, that comment only reflects the real world.
You see it in the news all the time, ex-wives claiming & getting millions (billions even) in their alimony payouts.
You may find the comment disgusting. But that’s reality.

Comment by Yolanda

So the real world to you, is what you hear about in the news? I am sorry but most of reality isn’t reported on the news at all.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Oh so the news ain’t real? I suppose TV drama series are more real .. And no, I didn’t just read it from the news. I have seen the robbery first-hand, through my own parents.

Comment by Yolanda

I am sorry to hear about your parents, but it does not mean that every single case is the same or that the majority of divorce cases end up with women wanting a big sum of money from their ex-spouses.

Regarding the news, it is not a good indicator of what is happening with the majority, unless you are telling me that the media reports about every single divorce cases?

I have personally seen many cases that don’t end up like that, and I have been working with families for the past 10 years.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Please stop.. It just sickens me to the core to hear this self-righteous hypocritical crap.. from a woman.

And what’s with changing the name of the charter? That is just the epitome of hypocrisy.

And as for your observation of the benevolent nature of women, that is probably because the amounts at stake are not enough to justify the legal costs.

If the sums were large enough, trust me: your kind will have no qualms about prostituting themselves in court to rob your husbands.

I have seen a woman wave a copy of her child’s $10 McDonald’s receipt to claim millions from her husband.

And that monetary incentive translate to observable behaviour. The statistics speak for themselves:-
Your kind are twice more likely to instigate divorce than men.

My advice to you: stop spending your precious youth on your blog. Cash in now on your womanly charms. Go powder up & find a rich guy to seduce & marry (& rob).

Comment by Yolanda

First of all, I live up to my principles and do strongly believe in the value of whatever I am doing.

Secondly, this blog is not a place for you to hurl your sexist bullshit at anyone, making blanket statements that really sound as if you are right from the middle ages.

Thirdly, I am against the make-up industry, against the idea of marriage, and against patriachy. I have always stood on my own two feet, supporting myself as soon as it was possible and necessary. So kindly shove your sexism back where it came from, and leave me alone. You are clearly not interested in a discussion, but seeks to abuse and insult. Do find better things to do, because I will not waste my time entertaining your nonsense after this reply.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

[…] This article, including the image, first appeared on Rachel Zeng’s blog. […]

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