Parents should trust their daughters. If they have guided them well, they will never betray them.
I think the biggest control on Indian women (and men) is the restriction on the freedom to choose who they spend their lives with. Many of the other restrictions are based on protecting this one control.
Even the concept of Get Married and Stay Married and Patriarchy, wouldn’t survive for too long without this powerful control.
Below is the conversation I had with someone who has lived all his life in a UP village. The couple put their kids in an English medium school in a small town near their village and he came to work in the NCR.
IHM: In your village, are girls ever killed if they choose who to marry?
Shocked father of an elven year old daughter: Err.. no… but they don’t do such things. These days parents are happy to send them to college also.
IHM: But if a girl does want to marry a man, say out of caste?
Father of an elven year old daughter: Parents should trust their daughters. If they have guided them well, even after being highly educated, they will never betray them. They will not go in the wrong direction…
IHM: You mean by choosing their own partner? Do you think that is wrong? Don’t you think if parents really love their children they would support what makes their children happy? What kind of lives do typical arranged with dowry negotiations marriages offer these girls? The men they are forced to marry, they don’t even respect them… atleast if they choose, they will choose someone who values them.
Father of an elven year old daughter: In villages they fear that if one girl is allowed to choose then others will also become bold and start demanding similar rights.
IHM: But how do you think would it be bad if everybody could choose their own partners? If a woman is clear in her mind and knows that it is her legal right too, to choose her partner, then what options does she have?
If there is a problem in the village, maybe leave her house and family, and move to a city… but that is seen as elopement! Just because they are born in such villages and families it is seen as wrong, so many families in the cities see it as perfectly fine today.
Father of an elven year old daughter: Actually those who don’t support should let them be. That is what they don’t do.
IHM: How do you think would it be, if all the girls could choose? Then those men who disrespect them, will they find partners?
Father of an elven year old daughter: Phir wo apne aap theek ho jayenge.(Then those who don’t respect women will learn to behave)
IHM: Do you know men can change it more easily than women can? Young brothers, fathers…they have so much power!
My dad broke his sister’s engagement in 1959 – she didn’t even think of telling my grandparents, so she wrote to him from her hostel, and he didn’t try to reason with her – the fact that she did not like the fiance was enough. It was her life, right? And no hell broke loose, she married, has two kids and four grand children, she led a good life, she is 72 today. [link – Some Joru Ke Ghulam = JKG ]
Father of an elven year old daughter: Times are changing in our village also… specially when families move to cities, there nobody interferes so much.
I was glad to hear he doesn’t believe that ‘Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation’. [Link.]
IHM: 🙂 Girls who have strong fathers are able to fulfill their aspirations with half the struggle …
I resisted the urge to translate Anna’s mom’s this comment to him. (Will find it link it soon!!) 😛
1. And the parents who support controls have all kind of reasons, here’s an example (shared by a reader),
“The Class 10 student told police that her father was trying to fix her marriage by charging Rs.35,000 from the would be in laws.” [Girl goes to police against father]
This news made me think of this court verdict: Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21, as it is they who bear the brunt of an unsuccessful marriage – Karnataka HC
3. Now one more positive. Link shared by Ruchira of Nirjharini.
Can these changes really be stopped? I don’t think so. The elderly in Bhopal and Gujarat are looking for companionship,
Why I see this as a positive, is because it seems we are finally looking at relationships that are based on companionship.