One reason why education for girl children became acceptable in traditional Indian families is that having an income improved a paraya dhan’s marriage prospects – because like Prem’s family in Dum laga ke haisha, many Indian families started believing that dulhan ji dahej hai (The bride is the dowry).
If a daughter’s self reliance was the goal then Indian women would not be prevented from choosing careers that might make it difficult for them to serve the in laws and spouse, and they would not be pressurised to stop working if the in laws wanted that. And they would be encouraged to save and invest. And they would not be forced to go back and adjust when they are unhappy.
But the idea that the in laws own whatever the daughter in law earns is only an indication of the general sense of entitlement that the ladke wale have. She is expected to have been raised to accept complete control, sometimes including her relationship with her husband, and generally what she eats, drinks, when she sleeps or wakes up, what she wears, and even whether or not she needs to see a doctor.
Sharing an email.
Let me start with my story… I want a guidance and direction.
I have been married for more than a year and it was an arranged marriage. I was staying with my husband FIL, MIL and younger SIL. After two days of the wedding my MIL told me that they were facing a lot of financial problems.
Before marriage I was told that my FIL lost his job and then my MIL had taken care of the family by picking a job. Slowly I learned that the job she was referring to was that of a Maid. (I do not have any problems with any kind of jobs but it was shocking to me as a completely different picture had been portrayed to me).
I also came to know about the Loan which was taken up by my husband and family, they have a habit of taking loans very often. The property they showed as theirs was in the name of my FIL’s sister (FIL and his sister do not get along).
I was very naïve and accepted it as my fortune and offered all the support to the family. I joined back to work immediately. My husband was giving all his salary to his mom who runs the house. She made it very clear that the family has no savings and the salary earned by my husband is spent completely. I decided that I will put my salary in savings for our future which was also agreed by my husband. When my first pay check (after marriage) came, my MIL made a huge drama about how I am not informing them about my finances and only speaking to my husband!! She also cried and banged her head saying she is so helpless because her husband never earned and her DIL is not giving her a respect.
I am earning about 20K and she straightaway asked me to give about 10K to her for every month. My husband also told me to do so and I agreed.
One day she asked me how much I was saving because she wanted some more money for a festival and when I told her that it was in a fixed policy she made an even bigger drama. [Reminded me of – An email from a Mother in law.]
My SIL is suffering form seizures and she is a college drop out. My MIL has never allowed my Husband or his Sister to take any decisions on their own. My FIL lives in a shell (He is treated worst than a dog by SIL and MIL). Both MIL and SIL have anger issues and they get into a fit of rage whenever something does not go as per their wishes. MIL is also very manipulative and is full of cheap talks. My husband is typical momma’s boy, who has never seen the outside world. He has no guts and he has always been reminded of how his mom has raised him with so many difficulties.
I have always been a positive girl who truly believes that happiness and peace are the most important things in the life and I could not find both in their house.
My MIL did not allow me to cook or do any work on my own, I can do something only when she orders. E.g. If I start washing dishes in the morning then she will tell me to stop that as she has some other work scheduled in the kitchen at that time. But on other days, she will shout at me and will ask me to wash vessels at the same time every morning.
She has always accused me of various things: That I have separated her son from her; that I complain about them to my husband and demand for a separate house; that I lie to her; that I don’t share anything with her about my family; whenever I used to be late from office she questions me about my whereabouts; and I had seen my FIL following me in the morning time as well as hiding behind a bus-stop, to follow me coming back home in the evening time.
I was really tired of all the accusations, lies and me living like a paying guest in their house. All my stuff was always checked in my absence, I was not allowed to keep my cell phone with me once I was home and it was checked daily by my MIL.
I did not talk much to my husband as well, because whenever I have told him something innocently he has told it to his mom and she has twisted it and used it against me. She believes that the whole world is against her and it revolves around herself and her daughter. Even if someone laughs within a half kilometre radius of her, she is sure that they are laughing at her or her daughter or her son.
Finally I decided I have had enough and left the house. I came back to my parents’ place. My father spoke to her… she said sorry… my father said that he will send me back. I pleaded but he did not listen. I left the next day for office and searched for a new accommodation, my father called me back saying he won’t send me back. Now it has been two months since I am at my parents’ place. My uncles and father are now forcing me to go back. They are using every manipulation and emotional blackmailing. They are saying that if I don’t go back then I will be blamed and it will bring shame to the their family.
I am really scared to go back and I can not live in their house. My father is only worried about his social status. I would rather live alone than live in that hell.
Unmana – On women and financial freedom.
– Preethi (Women’s Web)