Sharing an email.
How easy would this choice have been if this young, courageous mom was living in India?
Sharing an email.
How easy would this choice have been if this young, courageous mom was living in India?
Sharing an email.
I am a regular reader of your blog and I appreciate how you highlight the discrimination of girls in Indian society. But, in my experience I have seen a number of boys (and men) who are manipulated and misused more so by their own family members for selfish reasons.
They are raised and brainwashed from childhood to be faithful to their parents and be their as providers and nothing else. The education, the extra-care they give to boys is only in this hope, and the rules set for his wife, the DIL, is just an extension of this mentality. They fear the son will stop providing them and their family (read as daughters and her family) and hence start controlling his thoughts and his life from childhood.
I do not know if this is a south-Indian mentality, but I have rarely seen any discrimination when bringing up girls, in fact they are loved and cared for a lot more than boys and it continues to a larger extent even after they are married. It is the boys who are restricted, controlled and disciplined a lot more. The parents do not mind having N number of daughters as long as they have one son as ‘Budhape ka sahara’.
In my in-laws family, all the discrimination you talk about is only for the Son. My husband, the son is just the provider whose job is to have a constant supply of funds regardless of what it is for. It is so ‘normal’ an expectation it does not matter to them how the son provides as long as the parents, the daughter and her family are kept happy. My husband & I have had our share of financial troubles, some which the family is aware of, but nothing has mattered to them, they talk in a supportive manner when it suits them but their expectations from us continues at other times, this despite my in-laws being financially secure. No questions can be asked when they feel the ‘need’.
I do not understand why this is rarely talked about in our society. It is so very unfair. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives? Doesn’t his wife and kids have the first right to his earnings? Aren’t they the first priority?
Along with this, there is always a fear in these parents that the son might care for his wife’s family similarly. Hence all the ‘jamai‘ kind of attitude is taught to the sons, my husband is manipulated and has always been kept away from getting close to my parents. I am always blamed for showing ‘extra-care & love’ to my parents instead of my in-laws.
The daughter, my sister-in-law on the other hand rules the roost, still demands whatever she wants from her parents, and the person who has to meet these demands is their son. My husband refuses to deny that in the fear of ‘hurting’ his family. He has been brainwashed into believing that the only reason he has to even earn is to make their lives comfortable and happy. His family does not stop reminding me & my husband how we need to save for their medical expenses in the future, and how the daughter has to be cared for, provided for and given her due share in property even after they are gone. There is no such similar caring and concern shown for their son and daughter-in-law.
My husband has been there for them financially for over two decades, denying himself of acquiring any property of his own, always considering his family house as his own, his family’s needs as the major priority and now there is talks of giving away part of the little property to the daughter because it is her ‘right by law’. My in-laws emotionally blackmailed us against acquiring anything on our own, and I now realize it is because they feared the son will move separate and not be there during their last days.
Why are Sons treated like ATM machines? They are expected to give away all their savings as ‘duty’ and parents have no hesitation taking it from them, but when it comes to giving the son anything in any little form it is seen as a big deal? My sis-in-law has always been given anything she demands after marriage from clothes, to house hold items to jewelry to everything that she thinks is of need but even an occasional saree given to me is always mentioned like a favor done though it was bought with my husband’s earnings!
I am very disturbed about denying me & my husband the right to property even though we are the sole-providers to this family and will be there till the end. But I have no voice in this whole matter though it is my life that will be affected. I am made to feel like ‘a not well-raised girl’ who interferes in the family affairs and a typical daughter-in-law who prevents their daughter from getting her due share.
Sorry about the ranting, am just frustrated to see the unfair discrimination, where the husband and I have no say in any household matters except be seen as a constant source of never diminishing funds .
I consider myself a fair, non-judgmental, co-operative person but I am disgusted and disappointed with how manipulative, self-centered this world is.
Am I wrong in thinking like this? Should I just keep quiet as a ‘good’ Daughter-in-law’? Even my parents advise me to just let it go and do my duty, but I am very worried about my own future, this role of ours as providers is unappreciated and seems never ending . My husband loves me and assures me that things will be alright, but I am hating the entire helpless situation I am in.
~ another frustrated daughter-in-law married to a ‘good son’
Scribblehappy shared this video about saving the girl child, on her blog. The video is supposed to encourage parents to have (not to kill) daughters.
At an Ultrasound Clinic, the mother in law says, “Bahu I want only a boy.“
How does the bahu react? She doesn’t confidently smile and remind her mother in law that sex selection was a crime. Or that unlike their own narrow, oppressive existence women in this same nation, right in their neighbourhood, were living great, independent and happy lives.
Instead she looks like this :( A future like this makes the idea of having a daughter attractive?
Her husband places his hand on her shoulder, it’s not clear whether to support her, or to restrain her. (If it’s for support then he needs to do more than that).
Makes it look like it’s pathetic to be a married adult Indian woman. Would this encourage Indian parents not to abort their daughters?
Most Indians believe Getting Married-and-Staying Married is every good Indian girl’s goal. How hopeful about a girl-child’s future would the husband below make parents feel? Please do take a look at his face.
Such campaigns seem to say it’s okay for a daughter in law to be the lowest in the family hierarchy. This video could make having sons look comparatively attractive. For one, nobody asks sons to produce male heirs.
Those who think daughters in law must handle their relationships with in laws without the husband’s support (or intervention) must remember the power of this hand on her shoulder. Since it’s often the man’s family demanding a male child, men have more power in such situations. Why not make videos showing men doing more than putting a weak hand on a spouse’s shoulder? This son should have been shown making it clear to his parents that he did not think having a daughter was a bad thing. And not because the daughter would be willing to use her brother’s old books.
What do you think of what they hear their unborn daughter say?
“Ma (echo). Ma (echo) Ma.
Ma god has not yet drawn destiny-lines on my hands. And even before that ( a sob) you have all decided my fate?
Ma let me live. I swear on myself, I will never trouble you. Ma don’t worry about my school fees, I will use my brother’s books and educate myself on my own. And yes, tell Papa, not to worry about my dowry, I will stay with you and be your budhape ka sahara. And if you still feel I will be a burden on you, then you don’t need to spend on this operation, I will myself pray to god (pause) to let my mother see my dead face. (Meri maa mera mara moonh dekhe).
Yes, the last line is disturbing, but is it going to make those who don’t value girl children start valuing them?
So this is the pressure a girl should live with all her life? Be easier to raise, have no expectations from parents? Is it right to make it look like letting a girl be born is a favor she must repay by being a good girl all her life? How confident would such a child grow up to be?
Instead the girl baby could have been shown reminding her parents that if they gave her good education, love and respect; she would grow up to be self confident and self reliant, and they would have no reason to worry about getting her married – the traditional Indian parents’ biggest worry. Click here to see the kind of video that would make most Indian parents see what love, respect, confidence and equal opportunities can do to any child. Why not use such examples? Can you picture Chhavvi being asked to produce a male child?
But here the mother in law is moved by the reassurances from the unborn grand daughter. She, and not the parents, is shown as the decision maker.
The young woman looks visibly relieved that she has the permission to have this child. This scene would encourage Indian parents to have daughters, and look forward to them having such a life?
The couple doesn’t walk out together. The mother in law leads the grateful and obedient bahu out. The budhape ka sahara looks on, satisfied. Aal iz well.
Does this video make it look like it’s fun to be a young, married female family member in a traditional Indian family? And we still wonder why our rigid Patriarchy makes Indians kill their unborn baby girls.
Such videos can make Indian parents feel guilty about aborting female fetuses, but they don’t make them see daughters as worth having because they reinforce everything that makes it difficult for Indian parents to raise daughters.
Here are two ads that don’t show girl children as a responsibility to be handed over to the rightful owners (with dowry).
Without treating the cause, no problem can be solved. There’s more to having a daughter than saving for her dowry.
In response to “Don’t let me down dear daughter!”, a comment expressed this opinion.
“In defense of parents – and while absolutely hating my parents for their emotional blackmail – I do see where they might come from. I have seen innumerable girls (and sadly this still applies to girls in our society) throw away their lives while in throes of lust for the completely wrong person.
These girls typically run away with the first guy who gathers enough courage to ask them out the first time. Typically this guy does not have a great value system, any sense of responsibility, any education,ambition, willingness to improve their lot in life, respect for women and so on and on. As a result, the said girl either lives her life in grief or returns to her parents home where none of guys among us will marry her anymore.
I have seen way too many examples of such irresponsible behaviour and so do not have any hopes of parents granting girls “freedom” within bounds.
As they say, it is the limitation that defines any freedom.”
I was going to delete this but further comments indicated that this was written in all seriousness.
I wonder why don’t we consider guiding these daughters instead of locking them up. That’s a more reliable ‘protection’. But is it really about protecting the girl from unhappiness? I don’t think so, because we don’t kill to protect.
Strangely, this protection is only from falling in love (etc.) – not from violence, being burnt alive, abuse, murder or rape in their marital homes, even if this home is chosen by the parents.
Can an intelligent adult be expected to blindly trust such hypocrisy?
If the arguments given are honest and logical. If caste, community and the neighbour’s father in laws’ third cousin’s opinion are not the reason given for rejection of a partner a daughter (so lustfully!) chooses. Then the opinion of the elders would be considered worth taking. The parents have to earn this trust.
Sometimes girls are pushed into running away to escape forced-marriages or other problems at home. If the family accepts and supports their choices, girls won’t be forced to run away, they will see their home as their sanctuary and support system – as the place one always wants to come back to.
Assuming they do choose badly, could it be because they were not allowed to form independent opinions or choices? While anybody can make a mistake (including the parents) – some basic guidelines could make choosing easier for the daughters, but parents don’t want to hear of girls choosing their own partners. They would rather kill them. One Khap supporter claimed only prostitutes choose their own partners.
Giribala said, ‘Freedom to obey’ is not ‘freedom.’ And when the obedient girl marries the person of her parents’ choice, she gets the ‘freedom to obey’ for the rest of her life!’
Freedom to obey also means, they can’t come back home. Sometimes they must adjust till they die. Sometimes they kill themselves, sometimes they are burnt to death, sometimes they are sixty before they realize they can’t go on. They are told their happiness depends on their luck. Does this make a daughter see the parents as her genuine well wishers? Think about it, would you trust someone who says it’s your Destiny to live an unhappy life and your Duty to serve those who make life unlivable for you?
Social conditioning has such powers – some girls do.
They can see that if they are old enough to get married then they are also old enough to choose their partners. Nobody has more right to decide who they marry than the girls themselves…
Sounds like common sense? But we tend to put custom (i.e. old habits ) over common sense.
There are some with unlimited freedom to control other citizen’s lives . It seems Gujarat government has forgotten that these citizens are voters too.
GANDHINAGAR/SURAT: The Gujarat government has asked courts not to register marriages unless there’s parental consent in writing. (Click to read – Thanks for this link Desi Girl)
A friend once said she was very liberal and gave her daughter plenty of freedom, with a reminder, that she trusted her and did not expect the child to ‘let her down’.
Terms like ‘trust’, ‘freedom’ and ‘letting down’ made it sound like a warning Guidance and support towards self reliance, encouragement and acceptance would have been more appropriate, I feel.
How does a child tell such parents that she disagrees? What if she does not succeed is being obedient? And, if she does make a bad choice? It looked more like the parents were letting down the child.
‘Freedom to obey’ is not ‘freedom’.
The children are reminded that if they take decisions on their own – like a daughter marrying a person of her choice, she mustn’t come back home if there is a problem. (Another threat.)
And if she marries someone they choose and there is abuse? Can she come back home then? We know she can’t.
How do their ‘trust’ and their expectations help the child lead a better life? Or were they not really thinking of the child’s happiness - in which case should the child trust them?
Sangeeta from Gurjjar community, knew her family would not allow her to marry Ravinder Kataria, a Jaatav boy, she had met in her Computer classes.
This February they married in court and also in an Arya Samaj Temple.
‘They decided not to declare their marriage until they succeeded in convincing their families to approve it‘ and ‘continued to stay at their respective houses’.
When her family members started looking for a groom for her, Sangeeta had to tell them about her marriage.
It is easy to imagine the reactions… Such boldness must have been seen as a bad example for other girls in the family. The news mentions many uncles, a brother, father and mother.
She managed to go to her husband’s home, but her family persuaded her to come back with them to return on 18th July after a grand wedding to save their name (honor). The couple wanted their blessings so they must have been relieved.
Ravindra lost all contact with his wife after that. Suspecting foul play, on July 13th he lodged a complaint with the police.
The Noida police launched an investigation and recovered the skeletal remains of the girl from the fields and arrested four persons, including her brother and father. The accused have confessed to the killing, police said.
In a post about a Delhi girl who died in suspicious circumstances, a commenter had said the girl betrayed her parents’ trust, she was sent to study, not to choose a life partner. Does it sound like we are talking about an adult citizen living in a Democratic nation? Indian parents need to learn that they do not own their children, they do not ‘give them freedom’ – and they have no right to take it away.
Related post: Perfect parenting in 55 words
When a girl disappears…
My cleaning maid didn’t come yesterday – this morning she said she didn’t know how to tell me what happened, but knew me well enough to know I would understand. What could it be? Her chachiya-saas’s 4th daughter (father in law’s younger brother’s 4th daughter) didn’t come back from tuition the day before. The 15 year old had left with just a notebook, pencil and a little change for some snack, all the kids reached till their street together around 7 30 pm , and after that she hasn’t been seen.
The mother waited till 8 30 pm, then asked my maid to come with her to the tuition teacher’s place. Then they looked in all the parks – including she said ‘a notorious park near XYZ theater’ and her mother started getting worried then and wished the daughter had died instead of this.
I thought she would be praying for the child to be alive? No, it seems not if it is a daughter.
She started crying saying it would have been better if she had eaten poison and died.
Better for who?
I asked her if the mother feared the girl had eloped.
“…it is possible that the fault lies with our own child, but I was close to her, I know she was not like this..”
“Like what Kanta? And what fault? She is 15! Younger than my daughter, even if she did like a boy, did she discuss this at home? Could she discuss something like a liking for a boy with anybody at home?” By making falling in love such a crime, we put girls in terrible dangers. Like cornering them into running away (and often being sexually exploited) instead of simply going out with a boy.
“All her other daughters have never let us down, the older three have had proper arranged marriages… “
“Did you ask everybody in the neighbourhood to help you look for her? Somebody must have seen her… if she was forced she would have dropped her notebook in the struggle?”
“We did, her mother was worried about ‘badnaami‘ (honor) but agreed to complain to the police when I convinced her.”
“Kanta if honor is so important, tell her mother such news can’t be kept a secret, now she can save the child’s life, by making a noise and all this honor-shonor is forgotten in a few years. What’s the worst that would happen? She won’t get married? At least save her life now.”
The female sub-inspector at the police station asked us to get her school certificate to prove she was 14, saying she looks older…”
This boggles me. Wasn’t this too urgent to worry about her age? Find her first and then worry about her age…? She could be dying this moment.
My maid left for the girl’s school, (opening today, she said, after summer vacations) “Maybe if some haadsaa (disaster) happened with her, she would be too ashamed to face her parents so she might have gone to a friends’ house, or maybe somebody knows where she might go...”
So if something bad were to happen to a daughter, it is possible that her family was not the safest haven for her to rush to?
I told Kanta not to work but to try and speak to as many people as they could, get help from neighbours, teachers, class mates …and not to rule out acquaintances. 70% crimes against women are committed by someone known to the victim.
“I can’t tell them at such a time, but her father drinks and often brings home his cronies and the mother was often beaten for protesting, she used to tell him they had young daughters at home, it was not right to bring this kind of men home. Maybe somebody known to her told her there was an emergency and took her away to some lonely place…”
She disappeared on Thursday evening, it’s Saturday morning now. No news.
An elderly friend once said her only prayer for her daughter was, “God grant her good luck (naseeb)”. She said she had seen women who were beautiful being treated cruelly, she had seen rich girls with huge dowries being treated like ‘maid servants’, she had seen highly educated girls being treated like they had no minds of their own – and she had seen ‘average looking, ordinary girls’ living like princesses.
“Some girls are lucky, they wear what they like, their husbands love them, their in laws respect them, they visit their parents whenever they like…“
I didn’t agree. If it depended on luck then we were left helpless. I thought one could expect to be treated with respect from those one treated with respect. Wasn’t it supposed to be mutual?
Now I feel it isn’t luck but self confidence that ensures respect. Legal rights and being born in a Democratic country helps tremendously.
And then today I read this,
‘In laws insistence on the daughter in law wearing a sari does not amount to cruelty, says Bombay High Court’.[Link]
I don’t know how many Indian women would actually go to court for their right to be treated like intelligent adults. Any mention of such rights would be seen as unreasonable – even radical. Most women accept this (and more) as their destiny while their ‘luckier’ friends and neighbors, and other family members go on living their lives without having to take permission for every little personal decision. Sometimes there are two sisters in one family – one leads a ‘lucky’ life. One doesn’t. We accept that as their destiny.
This friend doted upon her daughter and she grew up into a confident adult. When she was 22 she confided in me. She was going to marry a class mate her parents didn’t yet approve of. They eventually did approve and now her mother blesses the son in-law for all the good luck he brought her. She doesn’t realise the good luck was given to her daughter when they gave her the confidence that made her say, ‘They don’t approve of him YET, but I know they would eventually. They know I won’t want to marry him unless I was sure he was really so right for me “. She didn’t want me to speak on her behalf – she needed no go-betweens. She knew she could speak to her parents about anything.
Hundreds of adults like this young couple in Kanpur who committed suicide by jumping in front of a speeding train probably did not have the ‘luck’ she had. Maybe they feared that their decision as two adults would not be respected, even though no matter what the Khap Panchayats say, the law was on their side.
Related posts: The symbolism of a saree at Careless Chronicles.
I confess old wives tales had misguided me.
In every party,
In the park, in the lift, in the club,
Experienced and confident,
The young and the not so young mothers
Conspiratorially assured me.
“Not showing much! Easy Pregnancy? It will be a daughter.”
“Daughters are easy to bear and bring up. ”
And “Daughters are such angels.“
I hoped she’d have my sister in law’s hair …
My brother’s eyes.
And her dad’s knack for sports.
And then the much awaited first cry
like in the movies …
I had grabbed her greedily
To see the face
that belonged to the tender feet that had been gently kicking beneath my ribs all these months.
The first thing I had seen,
even before the misshapen head and the flattened nose
was a dimple on a yet unwashed cheek
I had never given much thought to babies …
and then a strand of hair from my perspiring exhausted head
Caught in her little fist.
That strand of hair could actually have cut her skin!
This little demanding thing for all the noise she made |
For all her capacity to keep a family awake
Couldn’t open or close her fist at will.
She couldn’t see clearly,
Couldn’t scratch herself,
She didn’t even know I was her mother.
But she learnt fast,
She would pretend to choke to get me to attend to her immediately
And give herself away with a wicked victorious grin.
This little miracle
That changed our lives
She became the centre of our being.
But where was that angel I was promised?
No lipstick survived her
No book could be read except to her
Although Walt Disney collections echoed in the house
The endless circles and spirals she drew on every piece of paper
looked nowhere like Minnie and Micky mouse
Did someone say daughters are innocent?
The little mermaid’s washroom dilemmas were a matter of grave concern
Moisturizers were applied to teddy bears and clean blankets
Porridge was fed to all soft toys (what mess!)
Dolls had high fever
and they were read to
And often responsibility forced upon us …
Oh how I loved to see her asleep!
Daddy’s shoes were preferred to her own
My skirts were worn as off shoulder gowns
When she was five, I was advised to use my perfumes sparingly
And take good care of all my clothes
She couldn’t imagine what she’d inherit
If I finished everything before she reached my height.
But they grow so fast,
Soon you have nothing left in your wardrobe
that’s entirely your own
And then you hear yourself wonder
she is seventeen!!
Time truly does fly …
So I call my mother
“I am going to have an eighteen year old child! Can you believe it, she will be eighteen!”
“So what did you think IHM,
after seventeen she was going back to being sixteen?“
Edited to add: You may also like to read ‘What are little boys made up of? ‘
Settled and Secure?
I have always felt that if Indian parents were not too worried about a girl getting and staying married most of their (girls’ and their parents’) problems will be over. 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 the daughter has – being a good wife to some magnanimous guy who will condescend to marry her if he’s bribed with enough dowry.
Indian parents will sacrifice their daughter’s dreams to get her what they consider a dream catch…oops match.
The girl must marry, not necessarily to someone she gets along with, but to someone who will provide her security. This choice, generally from the same community, is not foolproof. But the girl must pay with her happiness, peace of mind and freedom for SECURITY. Sometimes she must risk her life for SECURITY.
Just think how easy our daughters and we will breathe, if we weren’t raising them to be secure wives, if we raised them not as girls but as individuals.
If we raised them to be self reliant, loving, responsible, independent, thinking, caring, dependable, confident, happy individuals.
If we unshackled our daughters from the ‘duty’ of getting and staying married.
If we allowed our daughters to marry as and when they meet the right kind of life partners;
If we supported them when they chose to marry someone who respected them as equals; someone who took it for granted that they will use their own heads to think;
Someone who loved his own family and respected and cared for hers; and accepts that she might do the same;
Someone who was a human before he was a man, not someone who would compete with her, but someone who thought they, made a team.
No pressure to give dowry. No worry that she will not be the proverbial ‘son’ to you. She will proudly be your daughter, and if you wish your Shravan Kumar in your old age.
Can you imagine how a girl’s life would be if her parents were not so worried about her getting married?
Edited to add: If happiness is truly what we want for our children, let’s show them how to be responsible for their own lives, and let’s set them free. Read what Dipali Taneja has to say, here.
Edited again to add: I found this absolutely fantastic post, read it to know how perfect our present day, marriage scenario is.
Added on 13th Sept 2008 : I find Amrutha’s post on arranged marriages simply brilliant, some of the comments discuss marriage and divorce.