“Time isn’t far when even Indian men will quit their faith from women and the Institution of marriage.”

Sharing a comment (and my response) asking some commonly asked questions about Marital Rape and how disallowing it might destabilise the society.  

GS: I have a question that I have in my mind which I wish to openly discuss. The urban Indian woman  has equally progressed in today’s society and doesn’t live in any kind of a subjection like before, things have gone normal which is the greatest achievement of our times,

IHM : Not true.

Amongst other things, if urban Indian women did not live in any kind of subjection then the society (atleast in urban India) would not continue to prefer male children.

And women and society would find it normal to live, work and travel alone,  dressed in clothes they prefer … as easily as the rest of the society does.

GS: what I’d like to enlighten here are more gender biased laws that our Indian Institutions have already passed in favour of women and what aches me more is the way “SOME WOMEN” use the same laws to harass their husband and his family.

IHM : I wish we had reliable  statistics of alleged ‘misuse’ of gender biased laws by women.

Also, which specific laws do you think should be changed and how would you change them – ensuring there is no misuse and no justice denied?

Do you think these laws are not required at all? Should domestic violence continue to be permitted just like marital rape is? Have we succeeded in creating healthy society by allowing crimes against some of the members? (No, we have reached a point where most parents do not want to have or to raise girl children, everybody prays, fasts and blesses for sons)

GS: Coming back to this article consent is a sensitive issue that cannot be proved in the Court of law.

IHM : Should a heinous crime be permitted because it is difficult to prove? Acquaintance rape or date rape or rape in live in relationships is also difficult to prove (and 98% of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim) [link] – but the law still does not permit rapes in these relationships.

As of now – marital rape is not a crime, even if it can be proven, where there are injuries and where violence is involved.

Do you think marital rape (- whether easy to prove or not) is less traumatic than rape outside of marriage?

Why do you think is rape traumatic for the victim?

Many Indians (who think marital rape should not become a crime) seem to believe the victim of rape becomes a zinda laash (a living corpse) – implying (amongst many other things) – physical and emotional trauma, caused by violence, violation, fear, physical injuries, stigma (if the crime is reported and becomes public) and more.

Now, which of these would not be experienced in case of  marital rape, but is experienced in rapes outside marriage? Stigma? Because it’s perfectly honorable for a victim to be raped by her spouse? So long as the rapist is a spouse or becomes one after the rape – there is no stigma.

One thing that would change with a law criminalising marital rape is that the society would begin to view rape as an assault and not as a shameful thing.

What does the legal right to rape an equal partner mean? How do you think does it affect a relationship? Amongst other things it creates a sense of entitlement. It also implies that forced sex is wrong only when the victim is being ‘dishonored’ and that there is no dishonor in sexually assaulting someone one is married to. Are honor, respect and equality possible in such a relationship?

How is marital rape less serious than domestic violence? Should any civilised society legally allow such crimes to be committed?

Legalising a crime is not a solution, because it changes the way the crime is viewed by the criminal, the victim and the entire society.

There is a general lack of healthy sex education or even communication about sex, and the law permits rape of a spouse, so for many Indians marital rape, or forced sex with spouse is not just perfectly acceptable – but actually quite normal. Seems disgusting and unbelievable? Take a look at the reactions to this groom raping a wedding guest: ‘Rapist groom should have waited a little to satiate his lusty desires without problems which he has got into.

The general tone of the comments is – “Fool did not wait for few hours to legality(sic) enjoy”. One comment suggests the groom was ‘practising’. There is a general sense that marriage entitles a man to unlimited power over the wife, and rape and sex are seen as the same thing. Can forced sex and respect coexist? Do these men [Or these, these, these, these, these and these] understand that sex can and should always be a mutually desirable act?[unimaginable!] Without understanding that and with so much ignorance – how can they be expected to view women as equal citizens and people with feelings?

There seems to be no question of what the woman thinks or feels. How can such relationships create happy and well adjusted families? What kind of society do such millions of such families create? We already know that –

More than half of young Indians believe it’s okay for a husband to beat his wife.

And, India leads in sexual violence, worst on gender equality: Study

GS: and some women can make a good misandry out of the same just like they did with Sec 498A.

IHM: Responded above. Need reliable statistics on misuse of 498A. What options do you suggest?

GS: Consent is not always given by women.

IHM: I didn’t understand this. Do you mean consent should always be given by women? Meaning women should not have the right to deny consent? Do you mean women should be forced to consent? How does the society benefit from this forcing?

Both men and women should have the right to give or to withhold consent. Sex without consent is called rape.

One way this would change relationships (and hence the society) is that even married men would make the effort to be nice to the wife (or vice versa) if they want sex, they would not feel entitled to sex.

For them, marriage is just a license to have socially accepted sex. Allowing women to say “no” takes that away from them. In the future, they might *gasp* actually have to try and be nice to the woman, make her feel wanted, and be romantic. You can’t treat her like dirt and still exercise a god given right to use her body when you want. More here – “Instituting the idea of marital rape raises the specter of a man going for long periods without sex even though he’s married!”

GS: Despite making the laws just in favour of women without any proof why can’t our government take active measures to create gender neutral laws instead of laws for protecting just women.

IHM: Gender Neutral laws are fair. Marital Rape and domestic violence should not be permitted to women either.

We also need more gender neutral laws to ensure women and men inherit equally, are provided equal opportunities for self reliance, are entitled to equal pay for equal work. Both men and women should feel safe – while travelling (especially after dark), or in public spaces or when under the influence of alcohol; marriage and parenting should not make men or women economically (or otherwise) dependent etc..Reservation by custom and tradition. Neither should be expected to forget their families and friends once they get married

GS: If the same situation continues time isn’t far when even Indian men will quit their faith from women and the Institution of marriage which would damage the family structure of a civilized society badly.
I need open minds to discuss this issue.

IHM: Do you mean that Indian men would not want to get married because they would fear being accused of raping their wives? These challenges should not deter the government from making laws that do not permit anybody to rape anybody. The law must acknowledge marital rape as a crime – just like we acknowledge other crimes like murder or acid attacks.

 Related Posts:
What makes Men Rape? – Do read.

The right to deny or to give consent takes the power away from Patriarchy, and gives it to the individual.

The Indian government [link] and the society [link] and hence the Indian legal system [link] seem to continue to believe that Indian men and women do not need to understand, respect, seek, give or deny Consent. This leads to some problems.

Like, is it possible for someone to respect women, if they have no idea that women are people with equal rights?

And can women be said to have equal rights, if they are not permitted to withhold or to give consent?

Can lack of respect be cured with appeals to display respect [link]?

And where does this disrespect come from?

A large part of it comes from genuinely believing that women’s consent in matters that directly concern them is not relevant [link], and though abuse, violence and disrespect are unpleasant, they are either unavoidable or even necessary to maintain the status quo. Many of us are afraid of any change.

Also, we do not seem to understand Consent as much as we understand Honor – which is why, (amongst other things) – forced sex or rape within marriage is more acceptable to many of us, than consensual sex outside marriage (which is strongly condemned as immoral). [link]

I think it is particularly difficult when not just the society, but even the law does not acknowledge women’s right to bodily autonomy.

The fact is, like anything logical – Consent is easy to understand. But Consent is empowering for those who are directly involved, the right to deny or to give consent takes the power away from Patriarchy, and gives it to the individual.

Respecting women, for most Indians does not mean respecting them as equal individuals, it often includes controlling their lives and sexuality, and as a result – women being allowed to choose their own partners is troubling for many. An extreme case was Mahendra Singh Tikait who is quoted to have said, “…Only whores can choose their partners.” [link]

What would change if Consent in sexual relationships was understood and accepted by the society and the law makers, as the most crucial factor in determining whether the act was a morally or legally a crime or not?

Here’s a video that explains Consent.

What do you think?

Related Posts:

The Amorous Adventures of Shakku and Megha in the Valley of Consent

Five rapists in Patna want to marry gangrape victim.

Making Marital Rape a legal offence is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex, not lost Virginity or Honor.

Panchayat orders girl to marry her rapist because one way to make a Rape right is to make it Marital Rape.

What do you think of these doubts regarding recognition of marital rape as a crime?

“Instituting the idea of marital rape raises the specter of a man going for long periods without sex even though he’s married!”

Forcible sex with wife doesn’t amount to marital rape: Court

Here’s why a 6-year-old rape survivor was ordered to marry alleged rapist’s 8 year old son.

Where Consensual Sex is Rape, and Forced Sex a legal right.

Rapist groom should have waited a little to satiate his lusty desires without problems which he has got into.

“In my own company in a cosmopolitan city, I know women who were horrified on the First Night.”

Who will benefit from criminalising sexual assaults within marriages?

India leads in sexual violence, worst on gender equality: Study

For Victims and Survivors of Marital Rapes.

Legally, marriage doesn’t permit murders and violence, but sexual assaults on the partner are legally allowed. (even if the spouse is minor)

Three thoughts on Bhag Milkha Bhag.

Marriage Sacred in India, So Marital Rape Does Not Apply: Government

Rapist said that coming from Afghanistan meant he didn’t understand what ‘consent’ was.

These panties will change the way you look at sex.

Let’s talk about sexual consent

“It was OK for her to say ‘no’ after saying ‘yes’? Saying ‘yes’ doesn’t mean a blanket sanction to any sexual activity.”

 

Reblogged: Fuck Sensitivity.

The illogical, sexist and patriarchal belief that women (and specially their bodies) exist to serve some purpose in men’s lives is brought into focus when we claim discomfort at the sight of something as nonsexual, natural and normal as breast feeding.

We seem to forget that the primary purpose of a woman’s breasts is to feed a baby. Sexualising women’s breasts is like being embarrassed by eyes ‘seeing’; or feeling uncomfortable by the sight of a woman moving – using her legs!

Any body part can be sexualised, and once sexualised it ceases to belong to the person it … err belongs to.

We seem convinced that the sexualised body parts were created for men and society – to view, approve, own, disown, love, hate, honor, decide whether they are obscene or graceful, whether they look more attractive (to men) covered or uncovered, and how much covered or revealed.

How can this sexualisation be rejected or disallowed?

Anawnimiss

Recently, I fed my baby in full public view in a Starbucks outlet, and Mister clicked a picture of us. I loved how we looked in the photo, so I posted it on my real-life (for want of a better word) Facebook account. In fact, it is now my profile picture.

My newly-addicted-to-Facebook-but-not-that-savvy mom was quick to comment that I shouldn’t have posted the picture, which was expected because in her fifty something years, she hasn’t ever seen anyone do this. I politely (I hope) explained that there was a need to normalize breastfeeding so people get used to women nursing in public.  I think my exact words were – Breasts are meant to feed babies, not to sell cement and chips and cold drinks.

So far, life was good.

And then, I got “advice” from several people, which was basically smooth talk asking me to take the photo down because…

View original post 241 more words

“A Delhi court has refused alimony and advised the wife to find a job. Now that’s Equality.”

A Delhi Judge Has Refused Alimony And Advised The Wife To Find A Job. Now That’s Equality! [link]

This opinion was shared on facebook, in response to this news, Delhi court asks woman to find job, not to seek alimony from husband.

Now, I will not go into the specifics of this case, and it’s true that alimony or maintenance are not the answer to:

How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands? [click to read]

Maybe, alimony should be replaced with:

Right to self reliance: where spouse, parents, society and the laws should not be permitted to hinder self reliance in women.  [Case1, Case 2, Case 3, case 4, case 5, case 6]

Denial of education and opportunities, gender based biases in inheritance rights [Link], forced marriages (especially and frequently where women are not self reliant) [case1case 2, case 3]

Keeping children (especially girl children) and spouse in dependence to control their self reliance and choices should be forbidden and also compensated.

Equality at workplace – discrimination at work places due to, for instance – parenthood (mainly for mothers, rarely for fathers) etc should be taken seriously. link1, link 2, link3, link4, link5]

Joint matrimonial property rights: Both the partners should have equal rights on everything they make during the time they are married – to be divided equally/fairly in case of divorce. [Case1, case 2, case 3, case 4, case 5Case 6]

“I am tempted to ask- does she mean girls who have no brothers should send money to their parents as well?”

“I am tempted to ask- does she mean girls who have no brothers should send money to their parents as well?”

But why just girls who have no brothers? That implies that brothers are the primary budhape ka sahara, while married daughters might be allowed to contribute if there is no male child. (also implies that, unlike a married son, whatever a married daughter earns rightfully belongs to her in laws, and the only way for a daughter to support her parents is to not get married.)

Only when all the children – sons or daughters are provided equal opportunities for self reliance and are expected to be equally responsible for care giving (etc), would Indian parents (and hence the society and the legal system) begin to view girl children as individuals and equal citizens with rights and responsibilities. 

Sharing an email. 

To Move Out or Not to Move Out

Dear IHM,

I am a young, urban Indian woman, married to the man of her dreams and living in a big city at his parents’ home.

My husband and I are well settled in our careers, having got our education from the best institutes in the country.

My in-laws are nice people. They never tell me what to wear & what not to. If I tell them I’m going to meet a friend, they never ask me which friend. They have no problems with my husband & me partying late into the night on weekends, sleeping in till late the next day etc. My MIL doesn’t expect me to enter the kitchen as she herself hates to cook. They have no problem with me visiting my parents’ house (they too live in the same city and my visits are not too frequent- probably once a month for 3-4 days of stay).

When I got married, I had been living in an apartment in a big city for 3 years. My flat mates & I used to run the house like our own. We were in-charge of things- grocery, bills, maids, daily menu, having friends over, house parties etc.

We were both very clear that we do not want to stay with his parents. But as luck would have it, we had to move to his parents’ city soon after our marriage.

Though everything seems picture perfect and easy, there’s something amiss.

My wavelength doesn’t match with my in-laws. They are preachy; they hail boys who send money to their parents and sons & daughters-in-law who live with their parents.

An incident which someone may deem small has changed the way I look at my mother-in-law. Soon after our marriage, my husband and I told my in-laws that we will split all the household bills with them.

To which, my mum-in-law said that my husband can transfer her the monthly HRA component of his salary for which she would give him slips and he can claim tax benefit. And let me assure you, that is a LOT of money. A lot more than what we would be spending if we had simply split the bill. We could easily live in a rented apartment & pay bills in that much money.

She added, “Children should have the habit of giving some part of their salary to their parents”, something which she has repeated several times after that.

I was disgusted more than hurt at her asking for that much money. We had just started our life together.

My in-laws are financially sound people- the sorts who take foreign trips every year.

We are two daughters- me and my sister and I know my parents don’t expect any sort of monetary support from us until and unless in case of an emergency. They have never asked me what I make or what my husband makes- it is if we have told them that they got to know. My sister & I have been raised as ferociously independent and free-thinking women.

My MIL is very keen on knowing our (and the entire neighborhood’s) salary packages- keeps asking us when we receive our hikes & what’s our ‘salary package’ now. Whenever my salary gets revised, she wants to see the salary breakup. In our initial days of marriage, she had told us to open a joint account with her so she can control our spending. I was appalled!

I have realized that I just don’t get along well with my MIL and never will, as we are so different. Her patriarchal views infuriate me. I can’t have a long conversation with her, as things she says make no sense to my rational mind. After work, I avoid talking to them and hence sit in my room, pretending to work or go for yoga/ run. It’s like I am a guest in this house- how can I feel at home and completely happy when there are two people in the house I would rather not talk to.

I also feel my MIL is abnormally curious about how much we make.

All things said, I miss being on my own. Something as simple as deciding the menu when guests come over to no one questioning me the amount of shopping I do with my money. Having a glass of wine after a long day at work, to deciding to skip family dinners just because I’m in no mood for it!

My husband understands my feelings. He agrees that the way his mom thinks is pathetic at times.

He also knows I will never get along well with her and doesn’t expect me to. The thing is, we feel we can’t even separate from them because, well, there is nothing wrong! It’s not like we had an argument or a clash with his parents.

I just wrote this piece as I am sure there would be more women out there who feel the same way and I would love to hear what they have to say.

Related Posts:

An email from a Mother in law’

An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

“When my first pay check came, my MIL made a huge drama about how I am not informing them about my finances…”

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.<

Some basic questions on joint family finances and daughters in law.

An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

Reply from the Indian mother in law.

A daughter in law’s legal rights in her in law’s house are the same as her husband’s rights. Whatever is his, is hers.

Should women be given a share in residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable property?

When a newly married Indian woman gives up her career, what else does she give up?

Should couples’ assets be treated as joint property?

Cabinet clears bill: Equal rights in Marital property, Easier divorce.

“My wife often rakes up property issues, or rues the expenses on my father’s ill-health.”

“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”

“My parents are not allowed to visit me at my place. None of my relatives are welcome either.”

“Every time this issue comes up, my husband has just one ground – I can’t change my parents. I don’t agree to their behaviour… but they make my life hell. Please cooperate and manage, shanti rakho!”

Sharing a comment, by Rtag. 

I have my own story to share. I am not really sure what is it that I am looking for… reassurance or solutions!

I am a married woman. My father has been unemployed for as long as I remember. Because of this my brother, my mother and I suffered a lot.

Even though he had been unemployed for so long and never shouldered his responsibilities, by God’s grace and luck, I was able to complete my studies and find a decent job. My brother on the other hand went astray, but is now back with a decent job and I am supporting and encouraging him to complete his studies.

Because of my father, I started working really early, at the age of about 18 – tuitions, then receptionist, then Tele caller, and finally today I work for a consulting firm. I earn good income and considering my own background, sometimes I feel proud of myself that I have come so far.

Anyway, coming back to the point… I never wanted to marry. Reason being I knew that no one would marry a girl whose father doesn’t have a penny to spend and is dependent on her daughter. But as it so happened, I met a guy, fell in love with him and inspite of my background and condition that I will always support my parents and brother, he agreed to marry me. [A married woman does not have the freedom to spend on her parents and will have to request and hope for her husband’s permission to do so.]

“…inspite of my condition that I will always support my parents and brother, he agreed to marry me.”

I have been married for almost 6 years now and truly never had a fight with my husband because of issues between us. We have always been able to discuss and sort things out. But when it comes to his parents – everything goes haywire. Some of the issues I face with them:

1. My parents are not allowed to visit me at my place. None of my relatives are welcome either. As per my in laws it’s bad!

2. I cannot talk to any of my relatives or parents for long. It has to be short, crisp, and to the point. [IHM: This is not uncommon, Indian brides told to reduce mobile phone use.]

3. I cannot visit my parents or relatives when I want to, I need permission from my in laws. [IHM: This happens all the time, “She stayed with her parents for thirty years, now she is married so it’s an end to her relationship with her parents.”]

I have a two year old daughter. My parents have hardly ever spent any time with her because of these reasons! I feel I am cheating them out of something that’s their right.

While I was pregnant, I called my mother and dadi to stay with me for a few weeks. My in-laws didn’t want to stay or support me at that time for reasons of their own. My FIL called my father saying I don’t like you or anybody from your family residing with my son at their house. This is just one of instance. This has happened many times over the course of my marriage. When my father asked why don’t you like it, he had no answers.

Last year I called my parents to be with me for a month, so they can spend sometime with their granddaughter. My in laws threw a lot of tantrum on that as well, and today when I asked my husband if I can call my parents for a few weeks, he declined.

Every time this issue comes up, my husband has just one ground – I can’t change my parents. I don’t agree to their behaviour… but they make my life hell. Please cooperate and manage, “shanti rakho”!

He just does not want to stand up to them even if they are wrong… because he hates fighting (verbal or physical). But this had started to affect me badly now. I can see the hypocrisy and can’t digest it. Same things are right for him, wrong for me.

He makes plan to visit his parents as and when they call and he likes, but this is not applied for me. His parents can come and go as they please, mine cannot.

I have tried over and over to make my husband understand my plight, but it does not make any difference. I don’t want to end our relationship on these grounds, because we truly share a beautiful bond. But these are a few issues that just don’t resolve and I feel abused, deteriorated and lost.

Please advise. I really need third person’s insight on this situation.

Related Posts:

“I am trying to make a list of soooooooo many advantages a girl can have if she is born in a Western family as compared to being born in india.”

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

These lines sum up the biggest reason for male child preference and skewed gender ratio in India.

Another email. When an Indian daughter-in-law has no brothers.

Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover…?

हमारी बेटी संस्कारवान है और मंत्री बनने के बावजूद पति के पांव की जूती ही है।

“I don’t see the point of forcing parents to give birth to unwanted girl children.”

Skewed sex ratio is not caused by sex selective abortions.

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

“I just don’t understand how girls like me (independent, modern) then agree to get married and live with someone and his family.”

“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”

“She stayed with her parents for thirty years, now she is married so it’s an end to her relationship with her parents.”

That this email writer needs to justify her wish to visit her parents, is the reason why Indian families continue to prefer, sex-select, abandon, pray, fast and bless for male children.

What do you think should the email writer do?

Hello IHM,

Back again, today I am very depressed and that is why writing to you.

I feel bad about my self because I can’t confront or give back to my in-laws whenever they say something bad or throw a taunt at me and hurt me with their words.

This happens most of the times and I just hurt myself because of this.

Today when we all family members were together, my husband just said while general talking that I should go and meet my family and should stay there for a day or two. Before I could speak my MIL started and said a lot of things which were intolerable to me and I wanted to give back to her but I couldn’t. (I am so angry with myself now).

She said, “Ye nahi jayegi, hum nahi jaane denge, Unke sath 30 saal reh liya hai. or ab shaadi ko do saal ho gaye hai, ab unse rishta khatam ab idhar rishta hai. Or rehne to jana hi nahi chahiye 3-4 dino ke liye. Jyada se jyada subah milne jao shaam ko aajao.”

(No, she will not go. We won’t allow her to go. She stayed with them for 30 years and she is married from past two years so it’s an end to the relationship with their parents. And she should not go to stay for 3-4 days, she should go in the morning and come back by evening.)

I can’t tell you how I felt that time I really wanted to give back to her that time. But as we say kadwa ghut pee ke reh gayi and she spoiled my whole day.

If i should end my relation with my parents as I stayed with them for 30 years then same should be applicable on my husband as well. He also stayed with his parents for 30 years and now he is married and so he should end his relation with his parents and we should move out.

I don’t talk much to my in-laws often, I just do normal duties at home and general talk related to household daily stuff. As whenever I talk to them and try to become friendly with them, they try to control me. They say such things or throw taunts then I don’t feel like talking to them or sitting with them.

My husband doesn’t like this at all and asks me to sit with them, talk to them be as friendly with them as I am with my parents. Today we were on a small one day trip and it was going good, but while coming back this incident happened which spoiled my mood to the core.

I feel like they always try to pull me away from my parents, my family. Why so?

They don’t like me going and staying for a day or two with my parents. By doing this they are not pulling me away from my parents, instead I am going away from them and I don’t feel like staying with them anymore. I wanna run away from them.

When they do or say such things I crave more for my parents.

How can anybody think that getting married means end of your relationship with your parents, who gave you birth, who did everything for you, and because of whom you are and you have whether it’s professional or personal achievements. Shame on this thought. They don’t have a daughter and they can’t understand the feeling, how it feels when you can’t see or meet your daughter whenever you want to or whenever she wants to.

They don’t understand the pain I feel as a daughter when I can’t see my parents for more than a week or two, I have seen my parents too have the same feelings when they cannot meet me for long.

I never raised my voice against them and never said anything to them ever. I just discussed my problem and frustration with my husband every time. But I think I should raise my voice now as I can’t take this any more.

I don’t know what should I do at this stage, as my MIL is a spoilt brat being the only female at home having two sons and had been pampered by her husband and sons. She is such a dominating person that she doesn’t listen to anyone, does whatever she wants, says whatever she wants to. Even if someone at home says she is doing this wrong she never listens to anyone and just does what she wants to.

She wants to control everything at home, her husband, her sons and tries the same, every time, on me. I am frustrated now.

I don’t know what should I do. She is creating a mess for me every other day.

A second email in response to my email – IHM

I have stayed at my parents place for 3-4 days in general but I have seen their faces and can easily see they don’t like it. But yes my husband never stopped me from going and staying.
She said this all of a sudden and I think she wanted to let me know that they don’t like it and now I should not go.

My husband is supportive but he also keeps mum in front of his mother. Though he confronts but only sometimes.  He knows she was wrong at this point. I was sad the whole day and he surprised me by taking me to my parents that too chupke se. My in laws don’t know about this.

Related Posts:

A married woman does not have the freedom to spend on her parents and will have to request and hope for her husband’s permission to do so.

“I am trying to make a list of soooooooo many advantages a girl can have if she is born in a Western family as compared to being born in india.”

Indian family values are good for Indian daughters?

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

These lines sum up the biggest reason for male child preference and skewed gender ratio in India.

Another email. When an Indian daughter-in-law has no brothers.

Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover…?

Indian brides told to reduce mobile phone use.

हमारी बेटी संस्कारवान है और मंत्री बनने के बावजूद पति के पांव की जूती ही है।

“I don’t see the point of forcing parents to give birth to unwanted girl children.”

Skewed sex ratio is not caused by sex selective abortions.

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

“I just don’t understand how girls like me (independent, modern) then agree to get married and live with someone and his family.”

“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”

Woman: Whose Slave Are You?

In Kelemo’s Woman, Nigerian author Molara Wood tells the tale of a woman in love with an idealist, a freedom fighter in a time of military coup and the subsequent downslide of the country.  It is a short story – succinct, pungent, and leaves you with a question about Iriola: who’s woman is she now?

Kelemo is caught up in his zeal of resisting the forces of suppression.  He comes from a family where sacrifice for the country is ingrained.  It is a noble cause, but Iriola is tired of following him around, from one rebellion to another, risking her life.  Why should his cause be hers?  Because she is a woman?  What if a woman did not support her man and his ideals?  What if she thought of her own survival?  Is that such a bad thing?

Iriola decides to leave.  She takes her dying mother’s advice and focuses on her own needs.

Because, as her mother says:

Iriola, allow yourself to be pulled down by no one.  Don’t be like me, slaving all my life to stand by men and for what?  To die of a wasting disease before my time?  Now you will have no mother.  The person to watch over you, is you.

How many mothers tell their daughters this?  Take care of yourself, your life is important. You matter.

Iriola decides to offer favors to the men in the system to get herself a job (she is educated and trained in nursing).  They think they are using her, but perhaps she is using them?

Why should women take on wars started by men?  Were women given a choice before starting any war?  Did their opinions matter?  So, if they join the fight, they need to ask themselves: Whose fight is it?  What are we fighting for?  If it’s freedom and democracy, then yes.  If it’s a power driven agenda or an endless loop of regimes, why should we risk our lives for someone’s thirst for control?  A game in which we become glorified pawns, who have no role to play after the dust settles.  (And these questions apply to men too – the ones who fight on the front lines.)

Iriola’s decision to break away from this “noble cause” makes you think about choices.

But the last line leaves you wondering: And I always obeyed my mother.

My friends and I were discussing this in our book club.

Tina is the one who brought up these last lines:

I pray Kelemo survives.  I suppose he will wonder why, when he learns about the choices I have made.  But Kelemo was not in the hospital room when Mother breathed her last.  And I always obeyed my mother.

Tina asked, “Do you think she’s being an obedient daughter?  Like generations of daughters?  Or thinking for herself?  Is Iriola really a free woman or is she now following in someone else’s footsteps?  What if a future situation arises?  Who will she turn to for advice?  Will she find her inner voice?”

But, Sajel, my other friend, thought the opposite of it.  She reasoned, “For a change, a mother advices her daughter to focus on her own needs.  For a change, a mother’s words are an inspiration to her daughter. We are so tired of hearing stories of men being inspired by their fathers, their captains, and their kings. This is very much about Iriola shaping her own destiny.”

Did the author intend for us to debate this – hence the provocative last line?  Is Iriola free?

Neerja.

How can watching something painful actually help someone in pain?

I had no idea what to expect from Neerja – but it turned out to be a cathartic experience. I identified with the mother and wanted to cry – aloud, even before anything began. The way Shabana Azmi wakes the daughter up, hating to wake her when she seemed to so need that sleep; then gladly letting her sleep just a little longer, snuggling up beside her, watching her asleep, her head on the pillow. I wanted the moments to last forever.

Shabana Azmi seemed to have experienced the scene, or the love – or else she is just a fantastic actor. Reminded me of another similar scene in Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd. where she has lost her family in an accident and here too she was equally relatable.

Even the mundane – the daughter teasing the mother for the way she dances, the clowning and the camaraderie. The everyday life I was so complacently content with and expected to last a lifetime. I cried at the unfairness of it all, but along with sadness and exhaustion I also felt a lightness.

I could hear other viewers crying too. What were their thoughts? How would I have found this movie if it was not seeing myself on the screen?

The family learns about the hijack and while they wait for information, It was us outside the ICU again, reassuring ourselves, insistently, that all would be well. The desperate hope that buying a yellow outfit could influence what they would soon learn… I wanted to reach out and hold their hands – tell them I understood.

The way the mother looks afterwards. Stunned. Dishevelled. The little girls walking to school. A photo album on her lap. It was like meeting a mother in our Child Loss support group. I wish. .. really wish I could meet this mother. 

I shared all of this on our group – In Our Hearts Forever and realised not everybody felt the same way. My husband too refused to watch this movie. Affirms what I have said earlier – the only person who can decide what works for them is the person experiencing the loss. 

The Voice.
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you – just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

Related Posts:

Talaash: Lakh duniya kahe

In our hearts forever.

Why I liked ‘Rabbit Hole’.

“Grieving parents behave in a different manner. ”

The right way to grieve.

When we surprise ourselves.

 

A married woman does not have the freedom to spend on her parents and will have to request and hope for her husband’s permission to do so.

“Why shouldn’t we be allowed to continue to love and take care of our parents after marriage?”

Legally, all Indian children – sons and daughters, are required to take care of their elderly parents.

This comment by Sara gives an idea of what actually happens in traditional patriarchal families.

Story of a daughter trying to take care of her parents.

No. Daughters VERY much WANT & LOVE to take care of their parents, since they are more emotionally attached to their parents than their brothers are. But  the husband & in-laws oppose this – they want all of their DIL’s resources (money, work) solely for themselves. A married woman does not have the freedom to spend on her parents & will have to request & hope for her husband’s permission to do so. Sad part is that parents themselves teach this to daughters saying “take care of your marriage – don’t ever cross your husband or inlaws, staying married is the most important” blah blah.

My mother is a widow & I am the only daughter. Inspite of this my mother tried to instill the above said “values” (yikes!!) into me. Somehow thank God my brain completely repelled it – she was such a loving, caring, sacrificing mom, and I simply couldn’t stand the thought of orphaning her because of some stupid “cultural” “values” or any other BS. When I finished my education & started working, she was even suggesting that she can join an old age home (it was under construction then) which was being built by a missionary after getting me married since it was “inappropriate” to “interfere” in a daughter’s husband’s wish (Daughter’s wish is to take care, but that doesn’t figure anywhere). It was APPALLING to say the very very least.

When proposals came, I was frank that I would like to keep my physically fragile (and very docile and soft) mom staying with me. But this sounded like asking for the moon for almost all the suitors. Only 2 families had agreed – I rejected the first one as they kept changing their talks suspiciously and also because I would have to resign my job & relocate. I got married to the second one who was in the same city. Later that turned to be a nightmarish marriage that lasted 5 months, during which he wanted my mom to turn over ALL her saving to him, and also wanted me to give him all my salary, since that is the “norm” and I’m even more obliged because he has “so very graciously consented to allow a wife’s mother to stay under his roof – something which, according to him, even the biggest fool on earth wouldn’t have allowed.”

To cut a long story short, after five months of violence (I mean hitting, punching, slapping & death threats, not just verbal/emotional violence), one sudden morning it took a radical turn, and I had to either slip out & run away from that house or get killed. During the few precious moments I got, I whispered to my mom that he is going to kill me & I’m running away & “stand in the hall near the exit door, and keep the door unlatched, run away if he tries to hurt you or if he is moving towards the door”, and ran for my life with my office badge & bag hoping he won’t kill my mom. By God’s grace a lot of friends helped me & God Himself helped my mom. We are alive now.

Now, that’s the story of a daughter trying to take care of her parents.

Another colleague is an only daughter. Her husband was acting ok for a few years – till she helped him pay off all his educational loans. After all his loans were done, he showed his real colors. Her husband’s words were not much different – he hit her & when her father questioned it, he said “I should have put you folks in your places right from the start. It is my biggest mistake letting you guys in my house. You don’t deserve to stay here.” (If this is how a wife’s father is treated, don’t even imagine how her mother would have been treated if he was not around.)

Not just that, as school kids, me & my friends would occasionally talk about this injustice – Why shouldn’t we be allowed to continue to love and take care of our parents after marriage? Of course, we were kids & we never got any solution for this. We just felt it as grievous injustice against women. (But even our moms shut us up if we asked them about this.. that left us confused & clueless).

Only one of my friends had her mom’s mom staying with them (and that too it was only after her mom’s dad passed away), and her dad used to taunt her mom & grandmom over it. Her mom was a lecturer & was earning more than her dad (who kept switching between jobs & miscellaneous businesses) – 20 years back!

It was a “good family” as per the standards then – which means parents never fight in front of kids (no matter what bruising/bleeding/war-of-words goes on behind the kids backs). Inspite of this, the taunts were noticeable by the child. Imagine what would have gone in between her mom & dad which she did not know then!

Of ALL the friends I ever made since the age of five till I completed schooling (not many close friends in college.. and not much time to chat about this stuff.. but I believe my college-mates would be the same too), only one girl had the view that girls are meant to completely detach from parents & bind with their marital families. ALL the rest were typical loving girls, lovingly bonded to their parents and wanted to take care of them post-marriage too. This includes only-daughter girls, girls who had only sisters, and girls who had brothers too (a few in this category didn’t feel so fiercely like the others.. that probably would have been because of “cultural value” drilling done by the parents.. but still, they sure wouldn’t turn their backs on their parents when they needed them..).

Note: Posting from my mobile. Will add Related Posts and links as soon as possible.