“See – UNICEF has figured it out. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out.”

Freebird shared this in an email.

UNICEF report quote on quote:
http://www.unicef.org/india/Child_Marriage_Fact_Sheet_Nov2011_final.pdf

Why child marriage is rampant in India (the report shows everything which is wrong with our patriarchal system and law enforcement in one go along with highlighting all other causes of gender bias):

//Unmarried girls are considered a liability to family honour. Child marriage is a way to ensure chastity and virginity of the bride, thus avoiding potentially dishonouring of the family.

Dowry perpetuates child marriage as it encourages parents to marry off their girls early to avoid an increase in the dowry amount (more educated girls usually require a higher dowry). Although giving or receiving dowry is a crime under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, it is still a common practice.

Girls are considered an economic burden for their family of origin and a “paraya dhan” or property that belongs to the marital family. Hence, the tendency is to marry girls as early as possible and reduce investment in their daughters.

Investing in girls‟ education is not considered worthy as girls will be moving to the groom‟s household and will be employed in household chores. On the other hand, the limited education and livelihood options for girls lead to marriage being one of the few options for girls‟ future.

With the aim of reducing the costs of wedding ceremonies parents often marry off their children early seizing the opportunity of collective/community marriage ceremonies, marrying off all girls/daughters in one ceremony when there are multiple daughters in a family, and coupling a wedding with other celebrations – such as funerals – held in the community.

Impunity, weak law enforcement and limited knowledge of the law by society perpetuate child marriage.

Attendance of child marriages by local politicians and government officials contradicts their role as duty bearers against child marriage.
Skewed sex ratio in some states has led to trafficking of girls in the name of marriage.//

See – UNICEF has figured it out. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out. A little honest observation and thinking would suffice. And what’re the obvious measures to solve the problem?

And some more:

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-03-01/india/31113013_1_child-marriage-unicef-child-brides

//almost 22% women in India, who are now aged between 20 and 24 years gave birth to a child before they turned 18.//

And I didn’t know where I should bang my head after reading the first few comments on that article:

//It will be very interesting to know that at least these mothers are married. It will also be interesting to know how many mothers in the US are in their teens and not even married.//

This was published in 2012. Are people really blind or they don’t want to see?

Related Posts:

Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture…

His sister is 26 and has two kids, the older one is 8! Another sister, around 18 is also married.

The life and times of another Indian Homemaker.

17 thoughts on ““See – UNICEF has figured it out. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out.”

  1. “//It will be very interesting to know that at least these mothers are married. It will also be interesting to know how many mothers in the US are in their teens and not even married.//”

    Ah, disgusting. So it doesn’t matter if her parents pulled her out of school. Doesn’t matter if she was married against her wishes. Doesn’t matter if she was then raped. Doesn’t matter if she was pressured into pregnancy. What matters is whether she is married (even if by force) and serving someone as bahu/biwi.

    Having consensual sex if not married = bad, marital rape of underage ‘wife’ = ok (even by law, as long as the girl is 15 or older). Women are property, to be owned and used by men. The ‘immorality’ is in the property making it’s own decisions.

    Compulsory education of girls (at least where it is feasible to reach a municipal school) and proper enforcement of the legal age for marriage is the only answer. Ideally you would want the change to be social since the problem is social but sometimes you need law to drag people’s heads out of the sand. But how do you enforce the law when politicians and policemen themselves don’t mind attending child marriages?

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    • For some reason, Indians (in general) hate to introspect because that would mean changing the status quo. If anybody especially a foreigner points out something negative, the first words out of people’s mouth is “in the US…” Gosh!

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  2. //It will be very interesting to know that at least these mothers are married. It will also be interesting to know how many mothers in the US are in their teens and not even married.//

    Whew, thank god for that. It would be really terrible to have adult but unmarried mothers actually capable of taking care of their children. It’s so sad they have banned marriage in the US, such cultural decadence. They too could have married teenage mothers like our great Indian culture but they insist on remaining unmarried. There are no married mothers in the US. We are so superior.

    All of you women who wait till you are in your late 20s, shame on you! Never mind your education, jobs, hobbies and achievements. ARE YOU MARRIED? That’s what makes you worthy in life otherwise you are an useless piece of shit. Please go and get married to the first man who agrees to take your burden away from your current owners (parents) and then you have to do your duty and produce children. Mind you, if you produce children without marriage, you have to migrate to the US.

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  3. I work in the area of low income housing and constantly struggle with the issue of how to intervene in areas that are illegal anyway. the parallel here is that dowry is illegal but it happens anyway, so there have to be ways and means (tactical, we call them) other than law enforcement to address this issue. for instance, can we find a way to feed community elders the idea of reduced dowry for educated girls who will work and bring in income post-marriage. i know, i know. from a rights and legal perspective, it sounds crazy. but if you have seen the patriarchal dowry system work up close, it might be a thought that makes sense to someone! #justsaying #random #musings #notnecessarilyintelligent

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    • How would this solve the problem? Less educated women are those whose parents cannot afford to educate them and are poorer so basically you are suggesting that poor people should be made poorer by giving more dowry. That’s even more unfair than the system currently is.

      I also don’t see how it will solve the problem for women. Do you think that by assuring in-laws that their daughter in law will earn and bring in money makes any sense? What if the woman loses her job? What if she wants to take time off to look after her children? What if she wants to live separately with her husband? You think condemnation of a woman by her parents to a life of slavery by providing free labour at home AND provide money every month for the rest of her life is somehow better than her stupid parents paying off money to have someone take her off their hands?

      Personally, I think that any parent who pays dowry deserves what they get. Any woman who agrees or takes pride in their dowry also deserve what they get. In the end, women who do not agree but get caught up in the mess because of their parents’ beliefs do not deserve more slavery! HER life would still be as miserable even though the rest of society would be patting their backs at having stopped dowry. Stopping dowry is not the problem, enabling women to be independent beings is the need of the day.

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    • A tactical measure that can work is giving compulsory lessons on equality for both boys and girls. Convince the girls from childhood that they are equal – hence no washing the dishes unless their brothers do it too, no different curfew times for brothers and sisters, no eating after brothers and fathers, and on getting married, no changing of names unless their husbands do it too, no automatic moving in with husband’s family without a vice-versa option being valid for the couple, etc, Fix all this, dowry will fix itself.

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      • Absolutely. I think a community or society needs a significant disruption to make these changes. For instance in mumbai, Muslim women began to go out to work, head their households, start businesses, change their outlook post the 1992 riots. Future generations in these families probably see things very differently.

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    • Crazy as it sounds, it doesn’t work. There are no shortcuts. In a patriarchal system, educated girls are married to ‘even more educated’ boys and dowry will become proportional to the qualifications of the groom. All these bends and circles without addressing the root cause haven’t taken us anywhere for decades.

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      • Why is dowry so hard to eradicate from Indian society? Dowry was ubiquitous in many Western societies up until the late 19th/early 20th century, and dowry pressure even lead to female infanticide in Renaissance Italy (here is a link from a scholar who studied Italian Renaissance culture and then moved to India, and the similarities she has observed between the two cultures):
        http://www.magnolia2mumbai.com/save-the-girl-child-what-my-degree-in-italian-renaissance-history-can-teach-me-about-india/
        In the West, dowry faded away as soon as women got real property rights. While Indian women have property rights on paper, my impression is that in actual practice, they really don’t (in North Indian middle-class families, isn’t it customary for the daughter of the family to sign away her share to her brothers?).
        Most of the attempts to eradicate dowry are analogous to tending to a sick plant by treating its leaves rather than its roots. Fem is right that the only way to get rid of dowry is to tackle the problem of male-female inequality at its root. Sraboney is also right that this effort is hampered by Indian cultural chauvinism (God forbid that India should learn anything from any other culture, especially the evil West!).

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        • “Why is dowry so hard to eradicate from Indian society?”

          Dowry is descended from the line of thought that women are somehow equatable to property, that our worth as human beings is never truly our own, but always intrinsically tied to money, gold, jewels, and the men we associate ourselves with. The day we eradicate the line of thought that our worth (which is tied to male relationships) is to be “purchased” for us and “given” to us is the day we’ll solve the problem of dowry.

          ” Indian cultural chauvinism (God forbid that India should learn anything from any other culture, especially the evil West!).”

          While I agree that this is a problem, especially with regard to many problems that are uniquely Indian (dowry, casteism etc.), it always irks me a little bit when I see people exalting the “Western world”.

          It’s difficult for me to explain why I’m irked by this, without sounding like one of those purported “Indian nationalists” you see in TOI comments sections. I will definitely agree that the West has made large strides in terms of progressive rights for women and the liberation of women.

          But every time I see people commenting that they can wear whatever they want down the street at any time of night without being catcalled at makes me chafe. I live in the West. I’ve been catcalled at the bus stop in broad daylight while wearing a trench coat. I’ve had people try and grope me in a crowded mall. I’ve had people, in the liberated West, dismiss my concerns about these things as “irrational”. I’ve been told that I should take the catcalling as a “compliment” and just smile and bear it (familiar advice from my other culture too). I’ve had people refuse to take their hands off me, even after I have told them repeatedly, to the point where I’ve had to physically remove myself from the situation.

          I live on a continent where cases like Steubenville have occured. I live in the same country where Rehtaeh Parsons committed suicide after being sexually assaulted. I live in a continent where two highschool seniors sexually assaulted a fourteen year old girl, and then harassed her family to the point where they had to leave town, before adding to the abuse by burning their house down as “punishment” for speaking out.

          I’m not saying this to put down the West or to exalt India as some sort of enlightened haven. Nor am I saying this to normalize sexual assault with the excuse that, “It happens everywhere!”, and that therefore it is okay to not solve our problems.

          I’m saying this because I often see people saying that we should solve our problems by adopting a more “Western” model or a more “Western” mindset. The reality is that such a Western mindset often does not tend to be any more enlightened than our own. Just because the West often has a much more liberated culture with regards to women’s space doesn’t mean that it is the type of model we should be following. The first advice that women get here in preventing sexual assault is still, “Don’t drink, and don’t dress provocatively.” Women are still told that we should dumb ourselves down to “get a man”, that our intelligence is worth nothing, that success in life is still largely defined by how many children you’ve produced and how much you can balance your “family and work life”.

          The model we should be following is one that is built on egalitarianism–not Western ideals. Full egalitarianism, not the partial, compromised type offered out here. Egalitarianism that addresses that women are human beings. Not paraya dhan, not burden, not property to be auctioned off after a certain point in her life. We are human beings, period. And the way I see it, neither culture fully addresses this. So rather than holding a different culture on a pedestal, I would much rather strive for something that we have still not even accomplished yet.

          This comment got really long–I’m sorry, I’m not actually knocking on you or anything. Please don’t take it too personally, it’s just something that’s been on my mind for a long time.

          [Also, to any of those TOI comment section Indian “nationalists” and self-appointed “upholders” of the Indian value system: Don’t take this to mean that I’m somehow letting India off the hook, or that the spotlight on India is unwarranted, or that just because rape and sexual assault exists everywhere, we shouldn’t talk about it here. Indian society and culture still has several thousand kilometers to go before it comes to anywhere near the acceptable standard of living for women. You’re not doing anybody any favours by saying that India doesn’t need fixing, simply because the West is bad too. That’s like saying that everybody is jumping into a well, so I’ll do it too, nevermind the fact that jumping into a well is probably bad for health.]

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        • @A

          I agree with you. The ‘West’ is actually a HUGE landmass of different countries and different cultures. So lumping them all in one category is simply stupid. I certainly wouldn’t classify USA in the same category as Finland. I spent a few years in France and I think it is more developed in egalitarianism than many other countries. Never seen anyone catcalling except silly Moroccans.

          And you seem to live in the Bible belt, so I am really not surprised at your experiences. Those nuts are even worse than Indians when it comes to suppression of women. My sympathies!

          But aside from this, some countries have actually made great strides in achieving equality and pointing this out from time to time as a model is not necessarily a bad thing.

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        • I actually don’t live in the Bible belt (thank goodness!). I live in Canada. Relatively speaking, you would think it was better, but the reality of the matter is that it really isn’t. Attitudes are the same everywhere, and it’s immensely frustrating that in a place like Canada (which I find to be quite forward thinking in many respects), I still have to deal with creeps on the public transit and people just dismissing my concerns as nothing.

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