“I remember how tensed my family was at the time of my marriage 2 years back. Every time they were forced to do ‘Milnis and Teekas with heavy envelopes’.”

Sharing an email from an anonymous Indian daughter in law.

I am writing this email with a very heavy heart. I am sad, disappointed, trapped and moreover frustrated. It’s not that I am a victim of physical abuse or something – but Yes. I am a victim of mental abuse…. A regular mental abuse which makes me more dry socially and disappointed.

On the first glimpse, it may look like another MIL – DIL disagreement. People may feel that DILs always cribbing about similar issues… But before I proceed I would like to make a polite request that – Peeps, it’s not that DILs always crib or want to crib… They are forced to be the victim of frequent unsocial issues at their in-laws place.

It’s not that the so called ‘Sasural waale’ are always wrong but considering the age old Indian traditions and mindsets, there is always a huge difference in the mindsets of both the families.

It’s not that I am less attached with my sasural and more with my maayeka… both are my families and I love both of them but yes I agree there is a difference which is born due to continuous disturbing issues.

My heart cries and my mind goes blank. I am born in a well-educated Indian family who focus the most on moral values, education and independence. I am a girl but my parents never treated me less than a boy… I was always supported, understood and respected. Fortunately after completing my higher studies and after I grabbed a decent job, my parents got me married to a guy of my choice. I was happy and was in a dream world, when I was thrown back on the ground of reality – The reality of being married to an orthodox ***** family!

In India what I feel is, that once you get married, your in laws treat you as their private property. You have no rights on your desires, your likes, dislikes, thoughts, and decisions. Even, you can’t go to your parents, who stay just 2 Kms away, on your own. Ladki ko maayeke jaana hai to bhai yaa papa lene aayein sasural (Translation: if a married girl wants to go from her sasuraal to her parents’ house, her brother or father should come to take her) and then wapas aana ho to pati lene jaaye (Translation: and then when she has to come back from her parents’ home to her marital home, her husband should go and bring her). But being an independent and financially stable girl with clear thoughts and mindset, obviously I can’t tolerate this.

Both my husband and I belong to the same city and I have grown up there, then why the hell do I require any one to accompany me to my sasural or maayeka?

What I feel bad about most is that be it any any any occasion, it is always a question that ‘Maayeke se kya aaya’? (Translates to: What has (gifts, dowry etc) come from her parents’ home) And this is one question which always leaves me feeling violent. Whenever I hear this question my heart shouts out loud – Why?? Don’t you have enough money to meet your expenses or desires?

Whenever there is any kind of occasion, the most common thing which I hear in my ‘sasural ka khandaan’ is ‘Bahu k maayeke se kya aaya? ’And my MIL, being a typical old fashioned, closed mindset woman she always wants to show off, that too without appreciating, the items received from girl’s parents. But most of the time she is like ‘Kahan kuch aata hi hai.. yaa unke yahan ( DIL’s home) kuch nahi hota) despite of the fact that my parents do their best.

Be it festival or any occasion – My in laws always expect a call from my parents but never ever they will take pain to call them. Diwali hai to mere parents call karein, (my parents should call them) New Year hai to mere parents call karein (my parents should call them) – But why? Is it a one sided relationship? Can’t you call? My parents are tired of inviting them on dinner past 2 years and till date they didn’t bothered to turn up even for once and still my MIL expects them to invite them every time. – Why? Till date, I don’t remember a single time when they felt comfortable at my sasural. I hate myself for that – Being parents of a daughter, can’t they come to my sasural without even a single line of tension on their mind?

I remember how tensed my family was at the time of my marriage 2 years back. Every time they were forced to do ‘Milnis and Teekas with heavy envelopes’. Kisi ke kaka… kisi ke chacha… Unke dada… unke par dada – Sabki milni teeka… (Translation: somebody’s uncle, somebody’s grand uncle, each had to be given envelopes filled with cash) Which is itself a huge financial burden on girl’s family? And, trust me, till date, after marriage, I have never seen those kakas, mama’s taus etc upon whom my parents were forced to spend huge sums of money in the name of marriage ritual. Lakhs of rupees wasted in the so called ceremony and now when I think of purchasing anything of my choice I am always asked to compromise as money is ought not to be wasted. – Why saasu ma? Aapke blind faiths mei jo mere parents ke paise waste hue wo aashirwad tha aur meri ek demand fulfil karne k liye if your son has to spend money – it’s a sheer wastage? (Translation: Why mother in law? My parents’ money wasted on your blind faith was ‘blessings money’ and if your son has to spend money to fulfil my one demand, that is sheer wastage?)

Every time my parents visit they are expected to bring big gifts and envelopes… They are expected to be very polite and always nod ‘Yes’ to their every point of view. And it’s not a cry of only mine; it’s a cry of thousands of DILs across India.

Just like any other girl, I also want a family of my own: my husband and my kids. But, trust me, I feel scared of being a mother. Scared of not the pain and responsible upbringing of my future kids but scared of those unsocial beliefs of my in laws which will make my parents suffer once again.

In my husband’s khandaan – once a child is conceived till he is born there are many rituals associated. These rituals demands huge financial expenses on ‘to-be-mother’ parents. Chauk, Chatthi and one more thing, I don’t remember the name.

During chauk, which happens in the ninth month – A huge list of items is given to girl’s parents and they have to bear it and gift it to sasural waale for the sake of the upcoming grandchild. Again the same shit of sabki milni and teeka.

After the child is born, there is chathi – in which again the same old shit of milni, teeka and gifts. In the sixth month, the girls’ parents have to send sweets for MIL and her relatives and they eat only those things – and I am like – Kyu bhai. Ladki k maayeke se khaane ka saamaan nahi aayega to bhuke rahoge kya? (Rough translation: Why so? If there are no freebies/eatables from the girl’s family would you remain hungry or what?)

There is no point in such rituals which are making me scared of even think of motherhood. Tell me. Do you think it’s good? Ek ladki sirf in unsocietal norms ke chakkar mei maa banne mei darti… ki kahin uske parents ko suffer na karna pade? (Translation: A girl is terrified of motherhood just because of these un-social norms, because she fears what her parents would have to go through.)

I am just fed up with all this. It’s not that only my MIL do this to us (we are 2 DILs)… At the time of her daughter’s (my nanad) child birth –  she spent almost 10 Lakhs rupees just to meet the demands of her daughter’s in-laws. And that was the day I realized that it’s not that only I suffer… It’s the case of thousands of Indian families all across. It’s just that some speak and some don’t.

If someone wants to disobey these so called MILs, they come up with the same dialogue – hamare zamane mei to ye hota tha wo hota tha… aajkal ki bahuein to aisi. (Translation: In our days this used to happen and that used to happen, but the daughters in law’s these days are such… ) Ohhhh godddddddd…. When I listen to these dialogues I am like man kill me.

Every time my mother in law comes with some or other crap in mind… And it’s my bad that both my Jethani’s family and my nanad’s family ( i.e my MIL) are comfortable with each and every huge ritual and they never feel irritated.. They are like – Bhai ladki ka sasural hai karna to padega hi… ( Translation: It’s a girl’s sasuraal, we have to do all this)

They are also tied with these age old rituals – but my family is like – humne apni ladki ko padhaya likhaya and kamane layak banaya (we have educated our daughter and made her capable of earning) then why the hell are we supposed to follow these non-sense rituals.

And ya – before I forget to mention, I also belong to ***** (same community) family but yes there is huge difference between the mindsets.

Dear MIL, I agree that you gave birth to a son. I agree that he is your world and you have every right on his life, his choices, his likes and dislikes. But wait!!! Daughter is also born with the same process. She is the world for her parents and they have the same rights on her life just like you have on your son – Then why such a huge difference between your son’s parents & his wife’s parents? — Just for the reason that the girl left her home and came to your house to light up your son’s life?

Madam, you are wrong!

My husband always tries his best to support me… but since he has seen all this huge rituals since the childhood and his mom being damn superstitious, even he feels helpless most of the time. He has 5 brothers (including first cousins) and all of them and their wives parents are following these superstitions blindly and when I rebel that why my parents are supposed to follow these illogical customs, I land nowhere more than arguing with my mother-in-law and spoiling my whole mood with tears.

And the saga continues ……………….

Related Posts:

Can dowry ensure happiness and security for a girl?

Can Dowry be compared to Inheritance?

“My story is not an extreme case of abuse or discrimination unlike some stories shared on your blog, but it makes me deeply angry and resentful nonetheless.”

Marriage Vs Live in Relationships : Twelve points to note.

Instead of eyeing their husbands’ ancestral property, why don’t Indian daughters in law make their own homes?

Some basic questions on joint family finances and daughters in law.

A daughter in law’s legal rights in her in law’s house are the same as her husband’s rights. Whatever is his, is hers.

An email: ‘My MIL called up my aunt and my mother and told them that our family has raised horrible daughters.’

“Is it possible that some women secretly want a dowry – perhaps to enhance their social standing?”

How many women would dare to say this?

Child marriage “is an evil worse than rape” and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court

Child marriages can (and do) lead to ‘sex with minors’ – with or without the minors’ consent.

And, sex with minors is legally acknowledged as rape except when the rapist is married to the rape victim.

So for the child who has been ‘married off’ to the person legally not-raping them but forcing them into sexual activity, the child marriage is truly worse than rape. Because here the rapist has the legal right to sexually assault the minor victim.

I know of two women who escaped such marriages (link) – and when I shared this with an acquaintance (who was worried about western influence on Indian culture) she said, “Oh but these things happen only to the poor and the uneducated.” (a factually unsupported statement)

So such things only happen to other people, who are not like us?

I wanted to tell her that ‘the poor and the uneducated’ are assured that early marriages prevent sexual crimes, and that sexual assaults happen only to ‘the Westernised’ in India, not to those how live in Bharat. 😦

But I am glad to hear this acknowledged.

Child marriage worse than rape, Delhi court says 

Link shared by Abhishek Oza

Child marriage “is an evil worse than rape” and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court while ordering registration of a case against a girl’s parents for getting her married at a tender age.

….

“There are serious outcomes of child marriage. It is the worst form of domestic violence against the child, not only by the respondents (husband and his family) but also by her own parents.

….

“Child brides have a diminished chance of completing their education and are at a higher risk of being physically abused, contracting HIV and other diseases, and dying while pregnant or giving birth,” the magistrate observed, adding that luckily this girl was “healthy”.

And here is an effort that can help children stay in school and schooling makes it easier for parents to avoid child marriages.

Related Posts:

When life ends at twelve.

“In my own company in a cosmopolitan city, I know women who were horrified on the First Night.”

Pregnant at fifteen? No moral issues. Unmarried and pregnant at fifteen. Degeneration of society.

Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture…

Forced intercourse in marriage not rape: Delhi court

What is that one thing that can change an Indian girl child’s life?

Who will benefit from criminalising sexual assaults within marriages?

‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’. Does it really?

 

 

 

Jharkhand woman gives kidney to husband as dowry, kills self after six months

A comment in a previous post wondered,

‘After all, no one can be FORCED to give a dowry. The people giving dowry do so by their own free will.’ The comment also compared dowry to gift.

But dowry (the way it is today in India) is more like ransom than gift. And it is not really seen as a choice by most of those who give or demand it.

What is seen as a choice is whether or not to have or to raise a girl child (sex selection, abandoning a baby girl, infanticide etc).

The radical option of raising a daughter as an equal citizen (with as many opportunities to seek and find happiness as anybody else) is beginning to be seen as a choice only now.

A paraya dhan‘s parents were (are?) considered irresponsible if they didn’t start worrying about her marriage as soon as she was born. And the first concern was not who she would marry, but her Dowry.

In fact, girl children even today are often not seen as children but as future daughters in law.

Which is why, the kind of education permitted, career choices, what they are allowed to wear, see, read, learn, earn, spend, save, eat or drink, the kind of social life permitted – all this was (is) decided with only one objective in mind – the future in laws’ approval.

Why did this approval matter?

Because there was (is) another rule – the father of an Indian paraya dhan must ‘give her away’ in kanayadan.

So traditionally a daughter’s parents had no option. If a daughter was born, she had to be raised as a paraya dhan, and had to be married off (by a certain age) with whatever dowry her future life partner’s parents agreed to accept after negotiations.

Before Dowry was made illegal, it was seen as a male child’s parents’ fair and assured entitlement. (Didn’t they raise him with their sweat and blood?)

Indian paraya dhan‘s parents acknowledged this.

There were justifications: The in laws ‘look after’ the ‘girl’, and dowry was a payment/compensation. Some saw it as her share (inheritance)- though the in laws/spouse owned and controlled it.

Dowry being made illegal has started changing the society’s attitude towards dowry.

Just like criminalising sex-selection has changed the way people talk about (many still think the same way) about having daughters. It also made it easier for parents to invest in their daughters’ self reliance instead of saving for their dowry (other factors also favoured these changes)

So, soon one heard magnanimous announcements about how much better than dowry was it to ‘bring’ a working (earning) daughter in law.

The law also lead to dowry related harassment being recognised as a specific kind of a very common crime/abuse.

Sadly the change is coming very slow. I personally know of women who have lost their lives to dowry related abuse. And dowry deaths are always connected with another social rule:  that women must save their marriages. We glorify women who give up happiness to stay married to men who do not respect them. See what this mindset lead to, 

[Link shared by Siddhesh]

Jharkhand woman gives kidney to husband as dowry, kills self after six months

HAZARIBAGH: A woman set herself on fire allegedly due to harassment by her in-laws despite donating one of her kidneys to her husband as a part of a dowry deal about six months ago in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district.

 

Six months ago her husband Sudama Giri fell sick after his kidneys failed. His mother gave Devi a written undertaking that they would treat her well and stop asking for another Rs 25,000 as dowry from her father if she donated one of her kidneys to Giri. 

 

Why did she agree to give her kidney in exchange of dowry? She was buying peace, and she could not imagine a happy life outside this miserable and abusive marriage.

As it is abuse victims find it difficult to walk out, then if they find no support from family or society… there must have been so much loneliness.

How did she feel when the abuse continued even after she donated her kidney?  And why did she think that abuse would stop if she suffered just a little more and made just one more sacrifice?

Wish there were media campaigns that spoke about abuse, that help victims recognise it, and that warned against wasting time trying to ‘win over’ an abuser’s respect.

And I wish women were encouraged to value their personal safety and happiness.

Three social rules that have begun to change and these changes can save many lives. If these rules continue to be defied there would be no dowry and sex selection.

1. Women must Get Married, preferably by a certain ‘marriageable’ age.

2. Women must save their marriages/relationships at the cost of personal happiness.

3.Women should see self reliance as an option and marriage as the sole purpose goal in their lives.

“I wish I was more sensible at the age of 22 before eloping and spoiling my life.”

Where would you begin understanding, questioning and challenging when,  

1. Not giving dowry needs to be explained,
2. Violence is not seen as non negotiable,
3. House arresting an adult is seen as an option,
4. Choice marriage is termed as ‘eloping’ (or ladkee ghar se bhaag gayee),
5. Choice marriages and divorce are both seen as bringing shame to the family,
6. Not wanting to live with in laws (only by women) is seen as selfish,
7. But when they live with the in laws, they are blamed for increasing expenses like electricity bills
8.They are expected to earn but not keep, invest, save or spend what they earn.
9.But parents of sons expect a share (or full control) in what the couple earns.

And most importantly, when
10. Caste is an issue for a daughter’s parents, not misogyny in the prospective groom’s family.

How common is this? 

Sharing an email. Bold emphasis mine.

* * *

Good afternoon IHM,

I am a 24 year old girl from India, currently living in the UK with my husband. Earlier last week I searched on Google about ‘Divorce in India’ and landed on your blog. From Last one week I have gone through each and every post written on state of Indian women in India, particularly the ones about daughter-in-laws.
When I was 18, I met my current husband. Like most other Indian parents my mom was very upset as my boyfriend was from different caste and discussed with my brother, maternal uncle and maternal grandfather. My phone was confiscated and was under house arrest for few weeks. I literally begged to let me marry my then boyfriend.
My boyfriends parents came to my house, but I was scared to take any stand. And then they (my current in-laws and husband) kept taunting me that I am incapable of taking any stand. And I must say I was totally blind in love or ignorant, I ignored most of the relationship No’s as recently mentioned by A Twenty Something on your blog.
After four months, I decided to elope and get married. My boyfriend’s father were fully involved in getting us married.  After wedding my husband was immediately sent back to the UK by his brother and father. Meanwhile my family proposed to get us married in the normal way to get society’s approval.
My family asked them about dowry demands and they kept saying no. Despite openly saying no my mother-in law had eye on getting loads of dowry, as she kept suggesting. But never said in front of my father-in-law. He also kept demanding a lohe- ka- tukda (car), but always in humor. As I felt guilty of eloping and getting married and was always against  dowry, I didn’t convey these to my mother. Also my husband seemed supportive of me.
My MIL expected me to do all the house chores, and kept taunting me, insulted my family on certain occasions. I decided to ignore, as everyone told me about her nature. During reception though my mother gave clothes to me and my husband, but nothing which can be termed dowry, as I married against their will. And my mother didn’t liked my in laws also, so she decided to keep that money for any future troubles in my life.
My husband came for two weeks for the receptions. He left and I lived with my in-laws for two more months. During which my MIL taunted me on everything from electricity bills to phone bills blaming me that everything increased since I came to live. I couldn’t watch TV as she watched her daily soaps from morning 9 to evening 5. I couldn’t use internet as that increased their bills. I couldn’t even fill Sudoku or crossword in the newspaper as it was my in laws right (or whatever). I couldn’t go out to meet my friends or invite them over. They were always grumpy. I wasn’t earning then and was busy sorting my passport and VISA.  My MIL taunted my SIL and me saying if she had married both her sons into her community she would have got loads of gold jewellery.
After coming to the UK I was unemployed for 6 months. My in laws have a rule of sons and DILs calling them everyday. Everyday they would ask him about my job (and never me) and kept telling him things like it might be difficult for him to manage alone etc. That never instigated my husband to fight with me. He was always supportive. I got a job. For six month he had complete control of my salary. My in laws always asked him about our financial details and taunted we are earning a lot. My FIL would convert that salary into INR but we were earning and spending it in GBP. My FIL also kept taunting my husband that he at that age has to work and sons are not able to take care, though no one asked him to do so.
Every time I went out and wanted to buy anything for myself my husband would say you spend too much. So after six months I decided I will keep my salary and transfer household expenses and part of joint savings to my husbands account. Though he initially denied and kept saying it will spoil the relationship, I was adamant because his parents have tortured me enough for money, I didn’t wanted to go through that again. He agreed though but may be he got bitter inside and divided savings as well.
When we went to India after a few months, when I was at my mother’s place and he bought land without informing me, on his mother’s name. He also told our financial arrangements to in laws who were upset and I was told that I should give all my salary to him and then he should give me pocket money to meet my expenses.
I was also given advice by my MIL that ‘aurat to dab k rehna chahiye‘ to which my FIL and husband agreed. When I asked my husband why he didn’t involve me in purchase of land he said, “You have divided our finances and made a dividing line in this relation. You shouldn’t be concerned where I spend this money and on whose name.”
I have always told him about my in laws humiliation towards me and my family. And my husband says he cannot say anything to them. After reading your blog I realised he is a Shravan Kumar, and scared to be termed JKG by his parents, who have that mentality.
There are numerous restrictions on the daughter-in laws like, no mehendi on any occasion, calling in-laws daily (otherwise they can go to the extent of insulting and abusing me and my family). Not wearing black and endless orthodox nonsense, not staying long with my mother, my family not doing enough to please in laws etc. My mother hates them so much that she doesn’t even want to talk to them despite living less than a mile away.
From last 3-4 months my relationship with my husband has only gone worse to the extent we both are thinking of Divorce. Despite of differences with my in-laws I never asked my husband to stay away from them or whatever.
I think my husband has got no stand on anything, can’t differentiate between right or wrong and will never take a stand for me even if his parents insult me. But will always be quick to ask me to stop talking to my family if they insult him. His reply on asking why his parents insult my family is when two families get in a relation thoda upar neeche hota hai (some highs and lows can happen). I asked what if yeh thoda neeche (the same lows)  was from my family’s end to which he obviously has no reply.
I am so over this relationship I regret my decision of getting married into this family and also thinking of divorce. My husband has been groomed to treat women like jutis and its deep seated. He sees his father as an ideal who is similar and has been controlling my MIL from many years. My MIL is a bitter and greedy woman and never had cordial relations with anybody except my husband.
I have shared everything with my mother and she supports me. She has always asked me to stay quiet where needed but stand by if something is wrong. I think I have brought shame to her and my family once by eloping. If I divorce than they will have to go through it again. I am also not sure if talking with husband will solve this as he is very rigid about understanding where his parents are wrong. Also he has been brought up with the same chauvinist mentality. I have started hating him for not being able to take a stand. He has never been violent towards me except for once where I made it quite clear if he beat me again I will leave him or call the police.
In your blog I have seen there are many other cases like me. I wish I was more sensible at the age of 22 before eloping and spoiling my life.

Another Confused Wife

Related Posts:

‘This issue might sound very trivial, any stranger talking to him for few minutes will undoubtedly think that his wife is very lucky.’

Sharing an email.

What makes these issues appear trivial? Why is it that many of us don’t seem to see that each of these ‘trivial issues’ contributes towards male child preference?

Dear IHM,

I would like to share my friend’s problem here. She lives in a foreign
country with her husband, two kids and works full time. She and her
husband have their own differences about values of life. He is
materialistic, expecting from the girl’s family, expects the wife to
give her salary to him on first of every month, share all her online
credentials. Long story short – a typical yesteryear Indian male
husband. On the other hand, he doesn’t spend much, teetotaler, takes
good care of the kids in her absence, cooks occasionally, saves for
the future, plans vacations and any stranger talking to him for few
minutes will undoubtedly think that his wife is very lucky.

My friend doesn’t share her credentials instead spends for monthly
expenses and then gives him the remaining savings as a bulk transfer
when needed for common investments and manages his tactics as and when they surface. They have been married for almost ten years now.

This issue I am going to share might sound very trivial but it bothers
my friend’s daily life very much and would really appreciate your
readers suggestions.

Their second child is less than one year old and the husband is not
helping to put the baby back to sleep at midnight wake ups. He just
continues “pretend” to sleep and my friend has to wakeup at least two
times between 11pm-5am every single night to pat the baby back to
sleep. Sometimes the baby sleeps with a feed, sometimes she has to
walk around for a while which is challenging for her considering her
back pain and inability to carry weights for long time and sometimes
nothing works. The baby bawls and my friend struggles. As this
situation repeats, she gets more irritated with her husband resulting
in shouting at him, showing faces and going on a no talking strike for
few days. He also doesn’t change diapers, doesn’t bath or feed the
baby. All she is asking him to do is to carry the baby for few minutes
and walk around when the baby cries at night or take turns in handing
the baby at night. He simply says he is not comfortable with doing
them when she tried to have a conversion with him. But, the same man
carries the baby during daytime and plays with the baby. He definitely
loves his children and wishes the best for them. There is no doubt
about it.

How can my friend handle this situation? She can’t continue to wake up
many times every night as she starts to work early in the morning and
also have to take care of her elder one, pack dabbas and other sundry
works of the home. She can’t take a break from work as she feels that
the little bit self respect and personal space will be totally at a
toss. She has been working since the day she married him and even have
heard her husband’s relative referring her as a “golden goose” to him.

Thank you IHM and your readers.

Warm Regards

Related Posts:

I Want To Be A Dad. – Radhika Vaz

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

A good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.

An email: “I find it very hard to forgive my husband for all that happened at the time of my delivery.”

Why Scandinavian women make the rest of the world jealous.

How are mothers treated in Indian culture?

First name, Unwanted. Second name, Dad’s or Husband’s name.

‘How I am going to manage two toddlers, work, home, chores etc etc without any physical and moral support from my in laws?’

How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male…

“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.

“Although my in laws maintain a facade of being content with what they have and never asking the girl’s side for anything…”

Sharing an email.

Hi. I read the email you published about eating without showering [link]. I thought of sharing my own experience with you and asking you and your readers for some advice regarding the same. 

I have been married into a joint family for a year and a half. The family includes my mother and father in law, my husband’s elder brother and his wife and kid and a daadi saas.

Something has been pinching me for a while.  Although my in laws maintain a facade of being very content with what they have and never asking the girl’s side for anything, but they are constantly criticising their elder son’s wife and her family for never sending anything. ‘Beti wale kam se kam mithai ka dibba toh bhej hi sakte hain.’ is a line hear all the time. I’m from a well to do family and my parents do give them tokens, no matter how much I tell them not to. I honestly believe that my in laws do not talk crap about my family because they get these gifts, which they accept readily.

Things are getting worse though. The other day, my jethani was talking about a girl whose parents had given the boy’s parents 101 gold ginnis for a function. So my FIL, with his sad sense of humour, said something about asking his bahus’ families for the same.

All of this has really started irritating me. I spoke to my husband about it and he started his same old pravachan about me not understanding how wonderful his family is.

How should I deal with this?

I would really appreciate the feedback of your readers too. As for my parents, they refuse to listen. They tell me that they need to fulfil their duties, regardless of what anyone does.

Related Posts:

“How can you eat without taking a shower? With boys, it’s a different matter.”

‘This ‘I, Me, Myself’ culture that most of you on this forum are propagating itself is hypocrisy.’

My wife will inherit my family’s property, her brothers too will share their property with their respective wives.

An email: I cannot bend to my FIL’s greed … but I don’t want to break up a family (mine) …

An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

“My wife often rakes up property issues, or rues the expenses on my father’s ill-health.”

“Is it possible that some women secretly want a dowry – perhaps to enhance their social standing?”

Do Indian men benefit from being married in exchange of dowry?

Can dowry ensure happiness and security for a girl?

Can Dowry be compared to Inheritance?

Indian women and their Easy Wealth.

So why don’t Indian women fight for their own ancestral property rights?

Instead of eyeing their husbands’ ancestral property, why don’t Indian daughters in law make their own homes?

Should women be given a share in residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable property?

An email from an Indian father: I want to place on record my own story as a warning to anyone…

An email: Can a woman be married off with a promise to the in laws, that her father would find a job for her?

Indian women and their Easy Wealth.

Here’s a comment from one of the previous posts:

Why the hell would a husband part with his property..ask her father to give it to her from his ancestral property..let her fight with her mother, brothers and sisters for easy wealth. Why burden the poor husband?

Easy wealth.

Inheritance (for women) is easy wealth.

Then what kind of wealth is well earned and deserved by Indian women?

Dowry: No. One it is illegal and two, it is given to the spouse or his family, not to the woman.

Inheritance: Only greedy, selfish, uncaring [etc] women refuse to sign away their inheritance for their brothers.

Earning/career/job: Maybe Permitted or Expected or Forbidden. And who has the authority to Permit, Forbid or Expect?

Generally a girl child’s parents try to estimate what the future in laws and spouse would want, and decide accordingly. In the 1960s only ‘teachers and doctors’ were approved as convenient options for future-daughters-in-law. Today jobs that require travel and night-shifts have been found to inconvenience the future-in-laws and spouse.

So not only are Indian daughters raised to be daughters in law and then frequently married off before they start earning (or made to stop earning), but they are also denied inheritance either because a dowry has to be given to the in laws they did not choose or because ‘she will get her husband’s wealth anyway’. Generally the future spouse and in laws know this and expect no less. They would do the same for their sisters and daughters. 

But why is a daughters’ marriage seen as more important than her happiness and self reliance?

Because marriage is seen as security, and self reliance for women as impossible. Living alone is not an option – it’s not safe for women in India to live alone. (These  rules relax a little for widows, who must learn to live alone and never remarry)

The parents feel an Indian woman can only be secure if she has a roof over her head and a family of her own to look after her, specially in her old age. They worry that her brothers might refuse to let her stay in their  house (which the sisters have been disinherited from). So she must be nice to her brothers, because they are also the ones who send regular gifts to her in laws to ensure she is treated well.  

So she must keep her brothers happy so they keep her in laws happy.

Does this work well? What if the in laws/spouse don’t want her or what if her brother doesn’t care? What if she is unhappy in her marriage? That’s not convenient for the brother (who generally has a life of his own), so she is asked to please-adjust and save her marriage. Sometimes she might commit suicide or be killed, and the parents might never learn what actually happened. Or she might get divorced but without a job, alimony or child support. Or she might come back to her natal home as a widow.

That’s the security that the tradition of disinheritance and dependance provides. Time, skills and energy are invested in preparing for a future [link] that works only if the woman Gets married and Stays married, no matter how unhappily. 

Also note, while she is expected to give up or ‘adjust her earning opportunities’, and bear children, doing so is not recognised as contribution. Do read some of the comments in response to  this post, like here, here, here and here. And they aren’t alone: Of Housewives, Beggars and Prostitutes.

So why do married women who are not earning deserve to be seen as contributing?

Let me quote SB:

What about opportunity cost? If she worked or continued to work after marriage, she would have accumulated a certain amount of work experience. By being a homemaker, she would be more or less unemployable if she’s been out of the job market for many years.

What about the wealth she might have accumulated if she had been paid for her work? I plan my expenses, savings and investments out of my salary. If I am not paid, I cannot do that. (I pay my maid more than food, clothing, shelter, medical expenses.)

What about legal tenant rights? If the wife had been a tenant, she could not be evicted as simply as she would be in the case of a divorce.

What about compensation for job-related injuries in case she is injured during childbirth or “in the kitchen”?

What about PF and other retirement benefits which a full time job would provide?

What about the cost of relocation, transfer, travel in case she moves with her husband several times during their life?

The marriage contract does not state anywhere that a homemaker should be a slave. It doesn’t state anything about division of labour, wealth, or any other assets. The marriage contract is actually based on an assumption of decency. Something which is probably lacking if people view homemakers as employees. A homemaker is not an employee of her husband or family. She is actually opting out of the job market for the sake of fulfilling certain duties. That is what she should be compensated for. Not just for the work she’s done as a mother, cook, housekeeper, and caretaker.

The one way gender neutral laws would be really neutral in this system is if parents (and society) stopped seeing girl children as future daughters in law, and if it was required for everybody to earn and live away from home for one year before they could be ‘married off’, only with their written consent. Fair inheritance would probably automatically follow then. 

Note: Paraya dhan – means ‘the daughter in law of somebody else’ or ‘wealth of somebody else’.

Paraya – not mine, Dhan – possession, wealth

“Is it possible that some women secretly want a dowry – perhaps to enhance their social standing?”

Sharing an email.

Hi IHM,

I have a question that has been bothering me for some time now and was wondering what you or your readers thought of this.

There are several girls who leave for the US to pursue their higher studies. Most often they find their life partner on campus (my question pertains to the ladies who fall in love with Indian boys on campus) and once they get jobs come back to India for their marriage (to their boyfriends).

So far so good – but I have noticed that this is where dowry comes in. The boys side have expectations and sometimes demand dowry. And my biggest concern is that it is fulfilled by the bride’s side. I am unable to understand how the bride can agree to this – after the education, exposure and understanding her life partner.
Where is the fault here and who should be corrected? If education and independence still do not encourage women to stand up against dowry, what else will?

It would be interesting to hear your take on this when you get some time.

When I discuss with my friends the answer always comes down to ‘different people have different circumstances so do not judge without getting into their shoes’.
But it still troubles me because I thought that a good education is the key to getting rid of dowry. But it is slowly dawning on me that it is not…
Is it possible that some women secretly want a dowry – perhaps to enhance their social standing? Surely no one wants to suck their parents dry for dowry? In my experience I have not met any – or are they hiding that desire? I think regardless of being a boy or girl – once we are able to fend for ourselves we need to stop looking to our parents for money.

Or perhaps it is the fear of not finding a husband – but if that fear remains despite having a job and being independent – then what more is needed to rid women of that fear?

Both these reasons I can think of seem quite depressing because they seem to have something to do with centuries of conditioning and shaping how women should think and act …

IHM: Dowry is probably seen as a small compromise? But is it really a small compromise? Doesn’t giving of dowry convey a tolerance for unfair terms,  and even a desperation to get married and stay married? Can dowry ensure happiness and security for a girl?

Like the email writer, I too wonder if marriage (and providing male heirs to carry forward the husband’s family name) was not seen as the main goal in an Indian woman’s lives, maybe they (and their parents) would be able to stand up for their beliefs, not just while dealing with dowry demands, but also some of the issues discussed in the previous few posts? [link1, link2, link3]

(Because then marriageable age and the  biological clock would not be seen as looming deadlines.)

And if some women feel dowry makes the in-laws like them better, would you really blame them? After all, Indian women are raised to beitni padhi likhi par sanskari bahu’. (educated but tradition-abiding daughters in law)

Do you believe some women might believe that dowry enhances their social standing?

Related Posts:

Can Dowry be compared to Inheritance?

“Women are forced by in-laws to get share in her parents property. This creates a divide between brothers and sisters.”

Sharing a comment I disagree with.

Our legal system is actually full of contradictions. Now just take a look at senior citizen law. The parents can demand maintenance from sons as they are their legal heirs but it is not guaranteed that sons will get the property as legal heirs. Daughters are eligible for share in fathers property but are not bound to give maintenance to parents. This creates a divide between brothers and sisters. Our social ethics are breaking due to the law. Such laws encourage greed. Women are forced by in-laws to get share in her parents property. Is money everything. We must not encourage this further and enforce a social system where everyone should be afraid of social stigma if his or her behavior is against the social values. Just think. –

And here’s why I disagree with this comment.

IHM: Elderly parents can demand maintenance from all their children, sons and daughters, and for sometime now, mostly, both sons and daughters are the parents’ legal heirs.

While parents are legally expected to provide for the children till the age of eighteen, nobody is guaranteed their parents’ property. If the parents have earned their property they have the legal right to decide what they do with it, save it for their sons or daughters, give it to charity or spend it on traveling or medical bills.

NS: Daughters are eligible for share in fathers property but are not bound to give maintenance to parents.

IHM: Legally, the daughters have the same rights and responsibilities as the sons.

NS: This creates a divide between brothers and sisters.

IHM: Such divides are caused by a sense of entitlement (to everything that is owned by the parents) that some brothers (male heirs) may have; and also by the concept of Budhape Ka Sahara (or Shravan Kumar or providers of elder care).

The idea that lineage, name and wealth must be passed on via a male heir  [Link] is why girl-children are unwanted, aborted, neglected, abandoned and expected to Get Married and Stay Married. Also why crimes against the paraya dhan are not taken seriously. [Link]

And how are divides between brothers and sisters worse than divides between brothers and brothers? Sisters are as human and as capable of being greedy, capable, self reliant, caring or irresponsible as brothers, they deserve the same responsibilities and rights.

NS: Our social ethics are breaking due to the law. Such laws encourage greed.

IHM: Such laws mean women do not have to be ‘greedy’ for or  depend on their husbands’ inheritance.

Such laws make it easier for women to stay unmarried or separate or divorce.

NS: Women are forced by in-laws to get share in her parents property.

If sisters and brothers inherit equally, it will become easier for Indian in laws to understand and accept that what women (or men) inherit is not dowry and it does not belong to the in laws.

NS: Is money everything.

IHM: Greed, denial of inheritance to daughters, financial dependence of women on male family members and dowry are directly related to women being forced to ‘save’ abusive marriages, because traditionally the parental home served as a shelter or a roof over their heads, and it belonged to male children. Sisters (widowed, unmarried, separated or divorced) who lived in the parents’ home were seen as burdens on their brothers.

NS: We must not encourage this further and enforce a social system where everyone should be afraid of social stigma if his or her behavior is against the social values. Just think.

IHM: Fear of social stigma silences abuse victims and works in favor of those who are made powerful by Patriarchy.

Fear of clearly laid out laws, laws that can be questioned, challenged and modified; and laws that do not deny human rights to any citizen, no matter what their age or gender; is bringing a slow social awareness that we have not seen before in Indian history.

For the first time in Indian history women are being seen as people who have feelings and rights. For the first time killing of daughters [Link], sex selection,  demanding of dowry, honor killing, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment of women etc are being acknowledged as crimes and human rights abuses.

Controlling crimes against women will become easier if women are not seen as ‘paraya dhan’ or liabilities, which is only possible if they are seen as equal family members not future-daughters-in-law; and that will only happen when parents-of-Indian-daughters stop seeing Indian-girl-children as elder-care-providers for their future husbands’ parents.

If Indian parents,

1. Do not deny inheritance to daughters only because they are not male heirs,

2. And if they stop saving for dowry to be given to the parents of Indian Budhape ka Sahara,

3. And if instead they support their daughters in becoming self reliant, and in choosing who and when they date, marry, divorce, live with, or have children with.

4. And if they also save for their own retirement – then they won’t consider sex selection in desperation for a Budhape Ka Sahara to bring home dowry and elder care giver.

5. Just think, if all children were acknowledged as equally likely/unlikely to provide elder care; and if parents did not have to worry about saving for inheritance for male children and dowry for girl children’s in laws, then they would be able to focus on saving for their old age.

Related Posts:

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

A daughter in law’s legal rights in her in law’s house are the same as her husband’s rights. Whatever is his, is hers.

Do you think this video can make Indian parents want to have daughters?

Another email. When an Indian daughter-in-law has no brothers.

If u r doing good to ur parents-in-law then ur own parents r being treated good by ur brother’s wife.. Its a ‘Chain’.

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

Should couples’ assets be treated as joint property?

Can dowry ensure happiness and security for a girl?

Can Dowry be compared to Inheritance?

Haryana panchayat cuts off married girls from parents’ property