An email : I married him with complete knowledge of him staying in a joint family.

Sharing an anonymous email.

Dear IHM,

6 months later here I am writing another letter to you seeking views on how to handle the situation.

Since the last time, things have slightly changed, I moved from the family business to a corporate which is going good for me. The profile suited my requirements, the pay matched up to my expectations and it ensures that I stay out of home for 10 hours everyday at peace.

Meanwhile my in laws have not changed, their habits and mannerisms remain the same and the constant discomfort of staying in someone else’s house as per their terms disgusts me. Now, my first sister in law and her family are shifting to the same city(possibly to the same house as well).The level of interference will increase exponentially. My second sister in law is also coming over for 6 months from the US.

Now, these things are normal for my in-laws, they impose all kinds of responsibilities on my husband and he is bound to do everything possible for his family.

Lately, when we discussed that it will be very difficult to stay with so many people and so much of interference, he agreed to move out of the house and tried to discuss the same with his parents. They started to lecture on how families are supposed to operate with the son taking all responsibilities, in fact my FIL also mentioned how guys need to earn and their wives need to manage household work.

The same does not apply to their daughters though and they are clearly hypocrites of the highest order. His sisters and relatives have also mentioned that it is his responsibility to take care of the family and hence, he must do everything possible.

Now, my husband feels that moving out of the house is not possible and I have no option but to live in that house forever.

Ours was a love marriage and we still love each other, so I cant think of a separation yet. I married him with complete knowledge of him staying in a joint family. I do not know what to do. It is so difficult to hurt him yet I have no option but to scream at him every single day.
The fact that I will never have a home to myself, never get to have complete privacy with my husband haunts me.

Please should I do?

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Being Single in India

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

My niece has often shared with me the troubles of being single in India. A couple of her friends are now almost turning 30 and pressure from their families is mounting. This they’ve chosen to ignore, but everyday life is not easy. The way neighbors and random strangers seem to treat them is reprehensible.

What are some challenges single Indians (both men and women) face?

Based on my niece’s experiences, and the comments from My Era, Neha, Cosettez, Simta, and Fem on the recent post on ‘women and friendship’, here are some –

Practical/Everyday Challenges

  • renting a place to stay
  • going out in one’s neighborhood (attracting uncalled for attention, especially single women from ogling men )
  • living in an apartment complex where everyone makes it their person business to worry about your future
  • for women, mild to moderate to severe harassment from some men in the building (staring, lewd remarks or worse)
  • getting mistrustful looks from some married women (being viewed as a potential ‘threat’) and not getting invited to family gatherings, pujas, festivals celebrated in the building
  • advice from family, relatives, neighbors and random strangers to get married and settle down and obsessive matchmaking that sometimes borders on abuse
  • Questions like, “Why are you not living with your parents?” (or at least with an aunt’s family)
  • being judged for dating or being in a relationship or pretending to be married when you are in a live in relationship
  • for women, being constantly reminded of your biological clock ticking
  • finding your name appearing mysteriously on matrimonial websites, without your permission, with the description, “highly educated, yet traditional, fair, beautiful, makes X amount.”
  • difficulty finding and keeping friends as most people get married by 30
  • patronizing attitudes from co-workers with families
  • workplace discrimination (“if you are single and over 35, there must be something wrong with you”)
  • questions on the person’s orientation, which is now everyone’s business
  • friends of the opposite gender forbidden from visiting apartment (because God forbid, they may have consensual sex. And we’re okay with marital rape, of course, that’s the poor woman’s problem, but consensual sex is everyone’s problem)
  • If you are divorced, you either did something wrong or you are unlucky. You no longer make the cut in terms of group membership.
  • Single women wanting to adopt a child face bureaucratic and societal challenges
  • Real threat to safety (when I go for my morning run wearing shorts in India, I feel safer if my hubby, brother or older son goes along with me. I’ve tried running alone but felt intimidated by the hostile stares and the lecherous grins. How is this different from the Taliban mindset? The man in your life may not be The Hulk but having one next to you seems to discourage unwanted attention.)

Emotional Impact

  • Feeling of being more visible – being singled out, more negative attention, every behavior/action attributed to one’s single status
  • A sense of being more invisible – ignored at or not invited to social gatherings/outings if more people in the group are married
  • Displacement from family – younger cousins, married with children are quoted as examples by sad parents, parents don’t understand how someone can want to be single, a feeling of collective rejection from family and extended family – being blamed/made to feel guilty for not making marriage work
  • Self-doubt and confusion – rejection and isolation leading to feelings of uncertainty, disorientation, and demoralization.

Some possible ideas to deal with this

  • Find other singles to network with. If you are divorced, find other divorcees. Start a support group. Sometimes these groups lead to friendships, sometimes they don’t. Even if this doesn’t lead to friendship, a group can be helpful for advocacy reasons – it is easier to fight for the right to rent without being discriminated against, if many people are involved.
  • Remain committed to the few people who are supportive. Keep in touch, make time to keep the friendship going without withering.
  • Join online groups and forums to get help/ideas for specific problems as well as to feel connected.
  • Start a blog on the topic as a meeting point for ideas and support. If there is a blog that focuses on the issues of single people living in India, please share.
  • Divorce needs to be made as un-intimidating as possible, otherwise marriages become prisons.  Many women stay in unhappy marriages because there is insufficient legal information and emotional support for taking this simple step – of walking out of an unhappy situation.  Therefore, please share resources/websites for divorcees, especially legal resources that explain your rights, procedures, property and custody issues.

Are we better off?

In the past, the only people who remained single were women who “failed to get married”.  They remained in their brother’s or uncle’s or male cousin’s house (after parents were gone) and served the families that extracted work and threw scraps at them in return.  They were ostracized within the family and held as an example of what happens when we don’t pray, fast, or train for a good husband.

Now, most single people I know (who are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s) got there because they made a choice. They chose to stay single.  They chose to walk out of unhappy marriages.  They chose to be in a relationship with someone without marrying them.  Boy, haven’t we ( a minority perhaps) come a long, long way?  Even if their % is small, there are probably now more single men and women in their 30s and 40s than there were a generation ago.  What does it mean – the fact that this is the first generation that we have more single people than ever?

  • this indicates that a few more people are putting off marriage to a later age (in my generation, many women got married in their early 20s and men by their late 20s).
  • this could also mean that a few more people are choosing not to marry
  • more people are opting for divorce when faced with unhappy marriages
  • at least a few women are no longer worrying about their biological clocks – they can choose to adopt (if they want children later) or choose to be child free
  • more women are able to work and hold jobs that allow them to make a living, so being married is no longer the only way to survival
  • being single longer and marrying later makes marriages more level playing fields – women who have lived alone and managed finances are less likely to be enslaved, men who’ve lived independently are not mamma’s boys, can take care of themselves and are not looking for someone to cook and clean for them, both women and men know what they want in a relationship)

The fact that a few people are making the decision to remain single or get divorced despite the challenges listed above means that our mindset is changing – that freedom and choices are now more valued – that they are pursued at the cost of society’s approval, acceptance, and the need to belong.

If you are single, please share your experiences and challenges with being single/in a live in relationship/divorced in India, and how you cope with both the practical and emotional aspects, and especially what has helped. It would be great to hear from both women and men on this.

If you are married, would you be comfortable renting out your apartment to a single/divorced person, male or female, if they appear to be honest, reliable people and have proper paperwork?  Would you rent to an unmarried couple?  Do you have unmarried friends who are over 30 or do you make friends only with married people?  Do you invite single/divorced people to gatherings/celebrations in your building?  Why or why not? If the answer to any of these questions is no, please elaborate why you are uncomfortable or what’s getting in the way of your friendship/trust.

Even if Poonam does not run naked, she should be punished?

Model Poonam Pandey’s plan to strip if India beat Sri Lanka Saturday has angered the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) women’s wing which has sought police action against her.

“Indian women are revered and respected since time immemorial…”

How exactly do we show this reverence to women? Please do compare this to how we show respect to everybody else.

Can threats be called ‘respect’?

I have so much respect for you; don’t ask to eat with the rest of the family. Your happiness lies in seeing us enjoy the food you cook.”  Is that respect?

So basically,

If you disagree we can’t respect you.

Don’t try to give your point of view, we won’t be able to respect you…

Little girls earn this respect by respecting the fact that they are always second to their brothers. “What’s wrong with that, don’t they love their brothers?

It’s more like a Terror of Respect.

Do as you are told or else we will not ‘respect’ you.

Dress only the way we permit or else…

Don’t choose your life partner or else…

Let your husband and his family abuse you, or else…

Give us a male heir or else…

Don’t enter the temple, you are impure…

And worst,

Don’t complain if you were sexually harassed, molested or abused or else no respect.

So, when it comes to women, it seems respect is more a means to control than a privilege.

I would say the only kind of respect that matters is the respect we have for ourselves. Or Respect that is given in return of respectequal and mutual. All other forms of reverence and respect are not too far from ‘honor’ and ‘honor killing’ or honor related abetted suicides.

Kelkar objected to Poonam ‘sullying the image of Indian women before the whole world.’ (Read Bhagwad’s objections to granting Poonam such powers)

Another man thinks her actions can sully the name of his caste. So obviously this lawyer believes there are no Brahmin rapists, child abusers  and murderers? Or these crimes don’t insult Indian culture?

“Even if Poonam does not run naked, she should be punished as she not only gave a wrong impression of the (Brahmin) community but insulted Indian culture,” The case will be heard April 5. (Today)

We live in an India where some people can legally express their arrogant, sexist and casteist opinions and offend my democratic and tolerant sentiments. I find it difficult to understand or ‘respect’ such frivolous objections. Are they doing this for free publicity? In a country where rape victims have to wait for years for justice, aren’t such cases a waste of time and resources?

Thankfully we are a civilized, democratic society. Poonam Pandey, Rakhi Sawant and Mallika Sherawat are generally free to ignore these opinions or react (if required) through a civilized, legal process.  No stoning. No anti-blasphemy laws.

And that is something I respect about my country. 🙂

Women who value the respect they have for themselves more than the respect of every wannbe politician, publicity seeker, neighour’s third cousin etc are able to fight back.

Sraboney shared this video where this Pakistani actor Veena Mallik is fighting back against similar allegations. Makes me wonder if hypocrites are the same everywhere.

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

I have blogged about “How important is it for a girl to get married?” and was following the comments in this very interesting discussion on, “Marriage : An over-rated institution?”

Desi Girl argues,

Marriages are sold to women in a glossy cover, remember once a woman got married she got to wear good clothes and jewelry that was forbidden for single women.

It gave her a free license to talk about sex and sleep with a man who everyone assumed would love her.

For all these benefits all she had to do was cook, clean, make babies and keep every one happy.

Yes in lieu of her services she is provided a roof over her head, food and protection from other predatory men.

We also know women could be killed if they tried having relationships or children without getting married (they can still be killed for this). If they had children they were not allowed to put them in schools or open bank accounts for them.

So basically the society made it difficult for women to stay unmarried.

Once there was no choice, there was desperation.

“From the careers they choose, the clothes they wear, the way they walk, talk, everything they do, is done keeping in mind the only future they have – Getting Married (and Staying Married).”

It was also decided that the bride must ‘relocate’ upon getting married. (She couldn’t disagree because nobody asked her).

…it is the daughter in law who agrees to enter into matrimony who has to establish herself and win hearts. Once mutual trust is established her in-laws are going to go out of the way to pamper her.”

Pamper her so much that remaining in touch with her family becomes ‘freedom’.

“…in-laws give the new bride time to adjust and allow her freedom to remain in touch …instead of treating her as an acquired property.”

When being treated as ‘acquired property’ is an option, freedom becomes immoral.

“…if we take Indian marriages in general, whose freedom is curtailed and whose isn’t? Will your (a man’s) in-laws ever tell you what clothes are appropriate or what your working hours should be?”

Marriage gives special privileges to women?

“Hindu married women are covered head to toe in “marriage symbols” (men don’t bother to show their status), … women fast, pray etc etc for this male figure who continues to stay in his own house, being mama’s little boy, doesn’t have to sacrifice career for kids.. …what do women get in return?
And lets not get started on the dowry angle…?”

Once ‘sacrifice’ became a ‘custom’, no more ‘pampering’ was required.

“…about a woman going to stay with in-laws. That very idea should change. Married couple should stay wherever they choose: by themselves, in HER house or HIS house with mutual understanding..
Since none of these things (and many more) are not even given a thought to as of now, marriage is indeed over-rated.”

My question:

If Indian society saw marriage as an option, and not as the only goal in a woman’s life, do you think some of our social problems (like female feticide, dowry, domestic violence or fear of social stigma in case of sexual crimes) might become easier to deal with?

__________________________________

Edited to add:

I would love to read what you feel, please consider yourself tagged! Do let me know if you write a post in response to this question.

Here is what some other bloggers feel,

1. Phoenixritu – Marriage: The great Indian scam.

2. Ruchira – Yes I am single. So?

3. Pixie – My answer to IHM’s question

4. Shilpa Deshpande – Marriage

5. Sandhya – Marriage: Obligatory or Voluntary?

6. Shail – Is marriage an overrated institution?

7. Alankrita – Greener Pastures.

8. Richa – On marriage and such.

9. Siddhesh ‘Ravan’ Kabe – Oh for the love of marriages!

Response from Anon Super-wife.

Anon Super-wife’s response to reader’s comments to her email here.
To all your readers, a big thank you, for taking time out to read and ruminate about the situation and to try to help.

And, I would like to add that I did solve the problem by doing something I wanted to, but couldn’t because I wasn’t sure that it was right. In my mind, I did want to just speak out in my own way and not just pretend things were okay, but my preconditioning wasn’t allowing me to.

The comments of the readers just got me doing it –  simply by refusing to cook. When despite me cooking, I don’t get to eat, it is only fair that I don’t as well cook.
I can eat a pizza or grab a Mac. let the people who do want rice, roti, rasam and sambar cook it for themselves.

Needless to say, no one cooked and pandemonium ensued. At least I was full and spent more time with the baby. All worth it, I guess.


As for working – I guess this is the way we are conditioned. My gran has always taught us grand kids to “tolerate, keep quiet, and understand” – this she says works miracles in any marriage. After a lifetime of seeing women that way, little wonder then, that we understand that this is the way it should work.
My mom who always wanted me to be financially independent – because, she thought that it would help me chart my own course – also implicitly gave me the same advice. Earning is important if something untoward happens, it isn’t something that you use, to wriggle out of your responsibilities. It is ingrained like religion is, or fear of putting your finger into that electrical socket is, you follow it without a question.

Practically it is difficult for me to get a maid, because I need things to get sorted by 8 AM and trust me when I say the leading set of people who give IST a unique meaning is this sect of maids. Where are they when you need them?

It’s not that I resent doing the work at home. I enjoy keeping my home clean I enjoy cooking for my husband, I do stuff for the MIL because I understand she’s worked hard at her place and I would like to let her relax when she comes visiting.

What I do not like is the attitude that says, “This is YOUR home, YOU and YOU alone are responsible for this home”. So, when food falls short, or when I’m working late and cannot handover the milk coupon to the watchman, or even when I’m rushing to office and cannot water the plants – it’s probably ONE time – the ONE time in a month that they have to do it – but it is MY home you see, MY plants. When I don’t have milk for tea – no one notices, hell! no one even notices if I’ve had tea or not (she can always drink it at office) but if for some reason the undergarments aren’t color coded and folded the way they have to be, I’m a “lazy girl”, “always in front of her laptop girl” or just plain “Sigh  … I never can seem to find anything at all …. old age might be. In India, we always spend half our lives searching“.

And you know what they say? That tidal waves are influenced by the waxing and the waning of the moon? They should also add something like – husband’s MCP factor is influenced by the coming and going of his mother. (actually, scratch that – the effects linger long after the mother has done the damage and exited the building). (Another post discusses this here – IHM)

So, to all your comments and suggestions, yes, this has to change. maybe the workload, but definitely the attitude.

I am not conditioned in a manner to raise my voice at home – like I said, “The finger in the electric socket syndrome”, but I know this has to change.

The reason I reached out to you, is because  I wanted to know if you felt the same way I did.

Remember the Anonymous Confused Wife?

This mail from the Anonymous Confused Wife had arrived moments before I hit publish on the last post, Confused Wife agreed to let it be shared here. Do you think reading this email might help the domestic violence victim in the last post?

___________________________________________

Hi IHM-

Hope you’re doing well. You might remember me as the anonymous confused wife who emailed you her laundry list of problems a while back.

Today happens to be day of great clarity for me and I want to share the details with you. You and other readers of your blog helped me get here and I’m very grateful for that!

After the discussion on your blog, I thought I had made up my mind about getting a divorce. But I kept flip-flopping for months because I wasn’t sure I was ready for the life of a divorcee. I kept thinking of how my parents would feel about it, how hard it would hit them, how it would affect their social life, and how I’d have to deal with that guilt for the rest of my life. I can understand why a lot of educated, otherwise empowered Indian women don’t do it. The loss is just too much to bear: not only do you lose a spouse, you also cause grief and pain to the rest of your family especially if they’re not on the same wavelength as you.

I didn’t tell my parents anything about my marital problems – because I was too proud. I’d fallen in love with and married a guy of my own choice, I’d been an adult for a while now, “I should be able to handle my marriage on my own” etc. Also because I was scared – I figured they’d encourage me to keep “working on it” and compromise and adjust and all those things all those parents say, but at the same time keep worrying about me. So net result would be the same bad marriage for me but more grief for them.

Finally, months later, I poured my heart out to them because I couldn’t take it any more. And I was stunned by their response – “If you’ve been so unhappy, why did you wait this long to tell us? You can’t spend the rest of your life dealing with this. Get out of it and move on the soonest you can.”

I kept repeating the same thing over and over again: “Aap mujhe jaldi se doosri shaadi ke liye toh nahin kahoge naa? Aap mere peechhe toh nahin padh jaoge naa, phir se shaadi karne ke liye?” (‘You won’t pressurize me to get married again?‘)

And they kept reassuring me that they won’t, they just want me to be happy.

I cannot describe in words the relief I feel. And the immense gratitude. They could have made this so much harder for me but they didn’t. I didn’t think I would ever feel happy initiating a divorce – in spite of the knowledge that I couldn’t possibly be happy staying in this marriage – but I do. The only thing that was holding me back is now gone. It is a wonderful, wonderful feeling. To know that there’s nothing that stands between me and my happiness, that they’ll be happy for me when it’s all over. To know that THEY KNOW I’m capable of being very, very happy even when single and alone (not the same as lonely). THEY AGREE I can spend my time on better things than figuring ways around the dysfunctional relationship between a mama’s boy and his mother.

Thank you, IHM. Thank you, universe.
Love and peace,
Confused No More

____________________________________________

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Click below to find out more. Hurry up, there are ten exiting prizes to be won.

The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters…

Pallavi shared this link.

‘The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters has become a major cause for playing havoc with the lives of young couples post marriage, the Delhi high court has said.

Daughter are supposed to become paraya dhan once they are given away in kanyadan, and any Indian man and his family would be justified in wanting a divorce if a woman’s  parents forget that.

Why I’d worry about any such biased and generalized statements. Because they encourage Indian parents to continue to disown their married daughters. Happily-Married-Daughters bring approval of the neighbours’ uncle’s nephew’s third cousin’s grandfather, so even if a married daughter is unhappy, she is advised to please adjust, or die trying. Having no one to turn to, makes her less equal and exposes her to abuse, exploitation and harassment.

Also, even if the parents were interfering in the case mentioned, it does not mean that this is becoming a trend. The idea that a woman’s parents have no right to support her once she is married, and an adult male needs to be mothered all his life, is changing and this change should be welcomed.

I wonder why there was no mention of ‘parental interference’ in these cases.

1.

Allegations that the mother-in-law kicked the daughter-in-law with her leg, told her that her mother was a liar, poisoned the ears of her son against the daughter in law, had been giving perpetual sermons and threatened her with divorce. [link]

2.

Bombay HC held that in-laws’ insistence on sari can’t amount to cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act. [My response here.]

Deciding what an adult son’s adult spouse wears is not interference?

3.

Another mother “filed an affidavit that the daughter in law works 8 am to 8 30 pm, but does ‘no additional work’ at home.

Was this seen as interference?

*

And just how much do an Indian daughter’s parents interfere for it to have ‘become a major cause for playing havoc’ with their daughter’s marriages?

In Haryana a son beat his wife in the presence of her parents, for wearing jeans when she went shopping with them.

‘…the police promptly dispatched the battered woman … to her in-laws house, terming it as a “family matter”. No case was filed.

Promptly dispatched to her in-laws house, a paraya dhan‘s rightful home once she is married.

*

Bollywood went out of it’s way to show loving a married daughter could lead to breaking her marriage.

How would you see this scene from ‘Phagun’ (1973)  if Waheeda Rehman was the husband’s mother and not Jaya Bhaduri’s?


Related posts:

No Jeans for Indian Daughters in law.

Can’t end marriage over sari.

Loving sons who devote their days and night to maintain peace in the family.

(and many , many more)

Let us not for a minute forget that we women still walk across minefields…

Starry sent me a link to this article from ‘The Hindu’ warning women against treating their legal rights and equality (that they have been so magnanimously granted) as their rights. (Author : Lakshmi Visweswaran)

My response in red.

Having struggled hard to obtain legal means to break free from male dominance and depravity, are we women today at the point of endangering those very means?

It’s not ‘we women‘ against ‘them men‘. Patriarchy is the problem, not ‘Male dominance and depravity‘. Although Patriarchy appears to empower men, it actually allows a few men and women to control the lives of most others.

I myself am a strong believer in the equality of men and women and the right of every woman to lead a life of respect and self-dignity.

Why just women? Everybody, including men and children deserve ‘to lead a life of respect and dignity‘.

Yet, we cannot forget that we live in what is even today a male-dominated society.

The so called ‘Male Dominated’ society does not create happy male members either.  Patriarchy allows a few to control the personal lives of many, for their personal gain, and generally with excuses like ‘family honor’ or ‘has always been done this way’. Patriarchy does not respect individual rights or happiness of those it does not empower, which is why it has failed to protect basic human rights of baby girls, female fetuses, girl children, senior citizens without male children, victims of sexual abuse and rape, victims of domestic violence, widows and single women etc.

Women have had to struggle and fight male egoism at every step to get even a few benefits like the above legal provisions on our statute.

The society struggles against set norms that have become a habit (customs). Those who benefit from the biases are resisting the changes. E.g. Khap Panchyat and those who get caregivers through the Joint Family System.  It’s much more than ‘male egoism’.

The bill seeking 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies was passed in the Rajya Sabha this year, after almost 14 years of its introduction, and it is anybody’s guess when it will be implemented.

A lot of men support the bill, if only to bring their female relatives (along with their male relatives) into politics… (my views…)

A shield

The modern Indian woman with her new-found economic, social and political independence is no doubt kicking to break free from the fetters of subjugation and subordination which have haunted her since time immemorial.

Many Indian women have no idea that they are as equal as anybody else, they  believe abuse is a part of a woman’s life. Some other Indian women  have every opportunity to grow and they knows their rights. Many other Indian women are ‘allowed education’ but warned against ‘forgetting their limits’ or thinking they are ‘too equal’ – it’s possible that this Indian woman gives the impression that she is ‘kicking to break free from the fetters…’. Her inevitable though slow successes seems to worry those who fear change.

In this uphill task, she has to learn to use the law as a shield to protect herself and not as a weapon to attack. A handful of women are forgetting that any relationship, whether marital or otherwise, is not about who has the upper hand but about who complements the other and how.

Most of the Indian society has always been about ‘upper hand‘ and ‘control’. A handful of women today are able to see they need not accept that as a rule.

Unfortunately today, aggressiveness has somehow become synonymous with “assertiveness” so much so that there are women who do not hesitate to file an FIR with the police or knock on the doors of the courts at the drop of a hat.

Most women do not knock of the doors of the court even when they have every reason to. Their families and the societies warns them against being seen as aggressive.

A heated discussion or disagreement, a refusal by the husband to allow his wife to wear western clothes or go out with friends, some chiding by the in-laws could all easily be labelled as cruelty by some women and, with enough stoking by unscrupulous advocates, this snowballs into a legal battle which leaves nothing but a bitter taste and an empty purse.

Until recently, a refusal to allow his wife to wear western clothes/meet her friends  was seen as a husband’s and his family’s right. If husbands and their families do not accept that they can’t control an equal citizen’s life, even if she happens to be the lowest in the Patriarchal hierarchy, perhaps they need some counseling along with/before police custody.

Still a minority

No doubt, such women still form a minority, yet no one can overlook the harm they may inadvertently be causing to a large number of Indian women, who genuinely need the law to help them find a way out of their miserable and pathetic situations; also, many a time it is an escape route from what has become to them a living hell.

A law being misused is not a reason for depriving victims of a legal recourse. This is a much needed law. A society that still thinks a wife should not mind if her husband does not allow her to wear Western clothes or to meet her friends, needs such laws even more urgently.

With more and more cases of abuse of women-centric legal provisions, the day may not be far off when the same men who conceded our reasonable demands start re-thinking.

It’s not men verses women. Nobody needed to ‘concede’ “our” demands. Law-making is not about magnanimity. If a wrong was being done, if unfair advantage was being taken, it was time to put an end to it. The society will take time to accept women as decision makers in their own lives. The law – unlike unwritten customs, can be reviewed, challenged or made stronger through legal processes. As of now social norms seem to undo a lot of good that laws begin to do.

With the joint family concept having become a thing of the past and with family ties getting weaker by the day, the need is for the establishment of several more counselling centres in colleges, offices, hospitals and even in courts.

The slow end of Joint Family is the beginning of the end of Patriarchy. It is a much needed change. The end of Joint Family will also be the beginning of respect for  female children – the unwanted liability, the paraya dhan in the Joint Family. It might also bring relief to the parents and families of girl children – they may find they can hope to see their children living with respect, self confidence, dignity, equality, love and safety.

These must be manned by trained professionals who have in-depth knowledge of human psychology and behavioural patterns. People, especially youngsters, must be encouraged to seek the help of such centres.

People of all ages might need counseling.  The damage that the Joint Family system or Patriarchy has done to the society will be more difficult for the older generation to understand, because this is the only way of life that they might have seen.

In fact, all family disputes should be taken up only after it has been certified by a counsellor that the case is beyond counselling.

No ‘certified counsellors’ should be allowed to become the middle men between a citizen and their right to justice. There is also a risk of the counselors being bribed.

Parents, family members and close friends can mediate and help the couple identify their actual problems and assist them in solving their issues amicably.

This is exactly what was being done for centuries. Girls were being sent back to adjust and many die adjusting even today. The law was made to protect women from such families and in laws. Patriarchy does not value it’s female members and through centuries the counselling they received has amounted to asking them to ‘Please adjust‘.

Advocates also have a major role, for they can make women see the futility of their case and advise them accordingly, instead of stoking the embers into inferno.

Why should advocates make women think they have no hope? Why should it be  assumed that what women are complaining against is not important? Taking a woman’s case seriously is not ‘stoking embers into inferno’ – it is making sure that she is not made into an inferno.

Compromises

Lastly, women themselves have the power to make or break their future.

Unfortunately they don’t. When they try to help themselves they are warned against the ‘unknown devils’ and lawyers who might stoke the embers of their unreasonable demands into infernos – the only way to be taken seriously is to agree to sacrifice their happiness.

The modern Indian woman should not forget that every form of relationship calls for some give and take.

Indian women are taught that the ‘give is for daughter in law’ (only future, no options, sacrifice, serve, adjust, honor etc), and the ‘take is for the husbands and their families’ (dowry, ladke wale, can divorce and remarry etc).

Small compromises or adjustments need not be misunderstood as signs of suppression.

Examples of small compromises? Eating when everyone has eaten? Taking permission to work, having children and taking decisions for these children, meeting friends, wearing salwar kameez or jeans, walking without covering one’s head…?

No woman should ever suffer cruelty or harassment of any form silently.

But having to take permission to work, study, dress comfortably, save or earn, meet friends & birth family  – is not harassment.

Yet, before rushing to court, let her ponder over and see if it is indeed her rights that have been trampled upon or it is just her ego that has taken a beating.

Being ‘disallowed’ from working, having female children, meeting friends, wearing jeans, eating with the family, spending what they earn, visiting their parents etc should be seen as a trampling of ego?

And being beaten (only if they didn’t ask for it) should be seen as a trampling of rights?

Women have traditionally been discouraged from having anything that might pass off as ego.

For, let us not for a minute forget that we women still walk across a minefield and if we do not tread carefully, there is every chance of the mines blowing up not just our lives but also the future of women.

The only minefields women need to fear are the minefields of old habits and social conditioning. And the way to avoid these mine fields is by boldly  knocking at the court’s doors if they in their own judgment (which is as good as any other adult family or community member) feel they are unhappy.There are some who fear that empowerment of women might mean a change in the system and those who comfortable with an old system (Known Devil Syndrome) assume any change can only be bad.

Loving husbands who devote their days and nights to maintain peace in the family.

Anju wonders if this man fits into the label of a ‘Maa Ka Ladla’ or  a ‘Joru Ka Gulam’. ‘Few days back I visited a patient and I was amused at the way the patient was being pampered alternatively by the wife and the mother. It was like who will take more care of the man.’

Anju feels for this man, ‘how tiresome it must be for him to pamper both the egos, to make both of them feel important and let both feel that he cannot do without either of them’

***

I wonder if women face this problem.

Are women able to take better care of  themselves on their own? We know they don’t. They need as much care as everybody else does.

So why don’t women have their mothers (or fathers) and their spouse competing to take care of them? He is supposed to be ‘Budhape ka sahara‘ of one and ‘Pati Parmeshwar‘ of the other.

What makes two family members almost fight to take care of this adult, male member? Is it because they each feel they must win a closeness to him? Are they insecure? If yes, then what makes them so insecure? Does this insecurity benefit the man in some way? (I don’t think so.)

Has tradition taught women that their lives must revolve around their husbands/husband’s family? Is the rest of the population given the same values?

Has the same tradition made mothers feel that while some of their children learn to take care of themselves (female children), some of them (male children) need to mothered all their lives?

Married daughters are encouraged to develop a healthy relationship with their husbands, but married sons in India are expected to ‘balance‘, which includes things like making sure their wives are respectful, subservient, obedient to their family etc.

Do I sympathize with this man? I feel I sympathize with the situation and with the families involved.

Indian mothers still look for and ‘bring’ obedient and pliant daughters in law for themselves when they arrange marriages for their sons. Often compatibility and companionship between the couple are not considered as important, as the wife being obedient and respectful to the in laws. Sons who feel this is unfair are labeled Joru Ka Gulaam.

Traditionally the society is fine with sons spending most of their time with their friends, but traditionally the same sons are not encouraged to see their wives as their best friends. Some sons have no real relationship with their wives for many years (often never). The mother remains the friend and companion (or male friends do). This would still be fine, if the daughter in law also had the option of maintaining a relationship with her own parents and old friends – this generally does not happen. She must make her husband and in laws her world, but she must accept that she is not their world.

Double standards don’t make for happy families or a just and fair society.

Three Saudi youths were arrested for attempting to sexually assault a teenager…

Teenager escapes rape attempt (in Taif,  Saudi Arabia)

Did you find this news difficult to believe? I did.

Is the victim going to be stoned for attracting the molesters attention?

No.

“The victim told police, after  escaping from the youths, that while walking down the road a car with three men pulled up and invited the victim to join them. When the victim refused to get in, two of the men tried to drag the victim  into the vehicle, but the victim resisted and managed to run away. They had also taken the victim’s mobile phone.

With the help of a Bangladeshi worker, the victim called police and described the car the attackers were driving.

A police patrol detained a car matching the victim’s description when it passed through a checkpoint later in the night.

After being interrogated, the youths admitted to trying to sexually assault the victim. They also confessed that they had sold the victim’s mobile phone for SR300 in a nearby market.

They took the police to the shop where they sold the phone and officers interrogated the shopkeeper.” (News from here with minor changes, to make a point…)

Can you guess why this victim is not going to be blamed for this (attempted) crime?