What about girls who are not very academic? Must they be condemned to forced marriages?

A Guest Post by Wordssetmefreee

Are freedom and fundamental rights only reserved for those who are academic or enjoy professional success?

Aarti brings up a good point in her comment in response to this post – How can forced marriages be prevented when the person being married off is dependent on the people forcing them to be married off?

What about girls who are not very academic? Must they be condemned to forced marriages? Are freedom and fundamental rights only reserved for those who are academic or enjoy professional success?  This does not make logical sense – every human being must have the same rights – but let’s look at how this is possible in other societies and what the barriers are in India.

In Western societies (I live in the US and can speak for the US at least), a girl who is not very academic can still be independent, make her own decisions, and enjoy the same fundamental rights (as others who are academically or professionally successful) because she can,

–      Work in McDonalds or Target or Walmart along with numerous other girls like herself, without anyone making unwelcome advances, passing rude remarks, checking her out, or making her feel uncomfortable.

–       She can work as a nanny, babysitter, or tutor or a cook without fear of getting harassed by the kids’ dad or other male members of the family, who could get reported for harassment.

–       She can clean houses without relatives and family judging her to the point of disowning her for bringing shame on the family.

–       She can deliver pizza, drive a bus or work for a limo service, because the companies that hire her are focusing on the business not on her physical attributes and they want reliable drivers with a clean driving record, so again because she can be safe doing what numerous other women are doing.

–       She can work on an assembly line along with hundreds of other male and female workers.

–       She can work in multiple part time jobs.

–       She can work late hours along with numerous other people who work the night shift to make ends meet, and not have people think she’s ‘asking for trouble’.

–       She can go out by herself in public places, shop, spend her money, use the ATM, etc., without street harassment.

–       She can rent out her own space without landlords and landladies giving her a hard time.

(For all those who think I’m trying to say Western society is perfect and devoid of sexism or misogyny, I’m not.  I’m only talking about work options, public spaces, and non-academic work environments for women.)

Now, why can’t an Indian girl or woman who is not academic or professional do this? 

I keep asking myself this question – why is this email writer in the grip of her parents/relatives/family etc?  Why can’t this email writer have the same freedom and fundamental rights that Nina (my baby sitter when my kids were little) or Steph (the lady who cleans my friend’s house) or Amanda (the 20 something girl who works at the McDonalds near my house) has?

Trying to answer some of my own questions here.  Indian women don’t have the same options because –

–       No safe working environments in non-academic jobs

–       A sense of ‘shame’ (‘Such jobs are only for the poor.  Middle class women, if they are not professionals, must get married to be financially supported’)

–       Lack of acceptance among families who will actively oppose a daughter’s decision to take up a job in a factory or as a nanny or at a restaurant.

–       Lack of employers who will focus on the business and productivity and will  be interested in hiring productive workers regardless of gender etc.

–       Lack of supportive work environments (even if the employer is supportive, male co-workers can engage in sexual harassment and get away with it).

–       Lack of strict laws against sexual harassment or lack of proper judicial process in such cases.

–       General resentment when women enter unconventional fields for the first time (‘she’s taking away jobs from families’)

The above barriers are twofold. One set of barriers are created by our society and our way of thinking.  Another set are created by our government (judicial processing of harassment cases).  The latter are much harder to overcome.  We could at least start with the former?  We can start by changing our attitudes, perhaps?

In changing our attitudes, we must,

–       Overcome class differences and class feelings.  Respect anyone who has a job and is using an honest means to make a living.  Respect every job.  Respect every human being, no matter what their job is, because they are doing what they need to do to survive.

–       Be willing to be uncomfortable and not always expect a cushy life supported by parents (here in the US, kids who grow up in middle class families, when they finish high school, some of them go to college, others go on to jobs.  Both sets of kids struggle on their own initially to pay bills.  They may not have a lot of comforts until about 5 to 7 years later.  They expect to go through this struggle before they stand on their own two feet.)

–       Make public places and work environments safer for women.  Speak up!  If you are being harassed, yell at the person, shame him.  Then that person is somewhat unlikely to harass someone else in the future.  Nothing is gained by remaining silent.  ALSO – Stand up for other women being harassed.

Not sure what else we could be doing to make our country better for women.  Any further ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Related Posts:

This 27 year old woman could not be forcibly married off or silenced or shamed.

A comment: One more thing, had I been financially independent I would have never got married.

“You can listen to your parents and be unhappy or you can go against them and feel guilty – those are your choices?”

Please watch Queen. Feels like our country is finally changing.

At what point should educated, 21st century women who can think liberally for themselves, take responsibility for themselves…

“This man is openly threatening his daughter and is instigating others to burn alive their daughters.”

“I know my dad is short tempered but he was never this aggressive until my relatives started making him over think about my marriage.”

My father says study but not without your FIL’s permission.”

 

“Her husband has told her she can leave if she wishes, she does not have a steady income of her own.”

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How can forced marriages be prevented when the person being married off is dependent on the people forcing them to be married off?

How can forced marriages be prevented when the person being married off is dependent on the people forcing them to be ‘married off’?

What can make it easier for those who are being forced to get married, to fight back these pressures? 

Sharing an email.

‘But I am scared that I would be forced to marry and by force. I mean it.’

Hi,

I just turned 26 last week. I worked for three years in an IT company. I have my GMAT scheduled in a week. I am being pestered for marriage at my home. The whole day I hear my mother cribbing about me to relatives. They have got this whole squad behind my ass. My only aim right now is to get admitted to a reputed college in us for MBA. Its got so ugly at home that there is no emotional support for my career. That’s fine I never needed that but there is so much of negativity at this time. I have postponed my exam twice already. This time I know I am going to give it and apply soon. But I am scared that I would be forced to marry and by force I mean it. I have no clue how far the emotional blackmail would go it has already crossed most of its limits. They keep saying stuff that they paid for my education brought me up etc etc but if I had known that the cost would be living my whole life their way even if you don’t like it I would have never grown up lol. Times like this … I really feel like giving up. But I had so many dreams and I try so hard to fill myself with positivity. I try too hard. I can’t find words to pen down that would explain how troubled n lonely I feel right now. I don’t even believe in arranged marriage.

Should I start meeting guys so that at least I land in US?

Related Posts:

“Only thing I can can think of now is to take a spoon of boiling oil and put on my cheeks. I will see then who marries a girl with a burnt face”

“I am betraying my parents, country and culture by not having an arranged marriage, people are talking, younger sisters not getting married.”

Why is abuse by parents taken so lightly by Indians?

Indian family values are good for Indian daughters?

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.

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

Three thoughts on Bhag Milkha Bhag.

1.

The Marital Rape scene in Bhag Milkha Bhag.

Those who think marital rape should remain legal need to watch this movie. The scene is disturbing, conveys the reluctance, fear, humiliation, disgust, anger and helplessness of those who wouldn’t imagine walking out of the situation.

And that is how watching a sexual crime happen should make you feel.

Brat Three was watching the movie too, and I have no idea what she thought or understood… I will have to talk to her… maybe I should tell her that sometimes some people hurt other people and it’s very wrong and should not be tolerated. No review had mentioned this scene – maybe because it happens behind a make shift curtain.

The movie also touches upon another unrecognised crime – Forced Marriages. And how both the crimes-against-women impact men.

So much is conveyed. Why Indian women might see brothers as saviours. How marital rapists live normal lives and set examples for others who have no other way to learn about sex. Why some people might never respect women except their mothers and sisters, not even the women married into their own families.

Edited to add: The only reason why the man could demand that the victim come to him, to be beaten and raped was because he had the social and legal sanction to do so. He felt no guilt, he was offended because she didn’t come as soon as she was called. Any rapist doing this in any other circumstances is unimaginable, but the witnesses in this crime see it as either unfortunate or titillating.

2.

The movie shows Milkha seeing women (or sex with women) as ‘weakness’ (or vice?!) that men may have. Alcohol and lack of discipline could impact a sportsperson’s performance, but relationships?

3.

As soon as the movie finished Brat Three turned to her brother and said, “You should also run like him!” 

IHM: “What about you? Don’t you want to run like him?”

Brat Three: “No, I am a girl… did you see any girls?”

IHM: “Ofcourse girls also run… I must tell you P T Usha’s story! 🙂 :)” (which I must google and read first 😦 )

Brat Three: I want pani poorie for lunch!!

I had recorded Chak de India and plan to watch it with her today – without saying anymore about whether or not girls can or should run. And I hope somebody decides to make a movie about PT Usha too.

In the meantime Bhag Milkha Bhag is very much a movie worth watching, even though it does not pass Bechdel Test.

Related Posts:

Marital Rape in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag: Why We Need To Talk About It?l

“Instituting the idea of marital rape raises the specter of a man going for long periods without sex even though he’s married!”

Making Marital Rape a legal offence is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex, not lost Virginity or Honor.

What do you think of these doubts regarding recognition of marital rape as a crime?

Sex Education has nothing to do with Blue Films.

“Only thing I can can think of now is to take a spoon of boiling oil and put on my cheeks. I will see then who marries a girl with a burnt face”

Sharing an email.

Like Suja Jones in the previous post, this email writer also says she can understand why Indian women are driven to take their own lives. 
Do we have clear laws against forced marriages? What are the options open to young Indian women who are being forcibly ‘married off’, while they are still dependent on their parents? 

This email was in sms lingo, I have translated most of it, made no other changes.

Subject: Is my fate sealed too?? I dnt want it to be… Help me

Dear kalpana chawla… I have always imagined you in the stars and spoken to you when ever I was in distress. I made you my role model long long back. I also promised you that i would fulfill every dream of mine like you did. When ever there was a talk at home “You are a girl dont do this don’t do that ( girls are tagged khandan ki izzat rite???) ” I remembered your story where you convinced your parents and went all the way to america to achieve your goals. I thought even mine would understand my goals and I would have my life as mine completely..

Bt it all turns out to be wrong. I have just completed my studies and not even started a job in which I wish to excel and there is the famous “Marriage Talk”. When I said that I don’t want to marry and, I want to achieve something in life, today there are people coming to see me and that’s done without my knowledge. If they ask me I will say no so they are saying just a few relatives are coming. But I’m not a fool I know what it is all.

I have decided that I won’t marry. I understand y girls commit suicide or run away from homes now.. I can’t waste my life for people who don’t even care about my dreams. Don’t want to run away and create an impression on my relatives that studies spoil a girl. Only thing i can thing I can think of now is to take a spoon of boiling oil and put on my cheeks. I will see then who marries a girl with burnt face… Cant think of any other alternative.

IHM I felt the bloggers in your site understand what it is to be a girl and dream big too. Some one has to stop these old methods if the level of women must improve. I will fulfill my dreams but i don’t know how to get Rid of this marriage talk. My male friends are sure that my fate is sealed lik any other girl’s and I will never achieve anything. My female friends can’t think beyond marriage and having kids and settling down. Your blogs give me relief and i feel there r ppl who think lik me. Plz help me on tis. I need suggestions. We need to change ourselves to b d change in world. I hav decided to change. Help me out.

– Help me.

Links to news related to Forced Marriages:

1. Minor resists marriage, gets father arrested in Odisha

Bhubaneswar : The 16-year-old’s marriage was fixed after she failed in the Class 10 examination. The family even performed an engagement ceremony despite her protest.

2. Rajasthan girl says she’s under threat to accept her child marriage

Jodhpur :  A 20-year-old girl has sought protection by the Rajasthan authorities from members of a village community council who, she says, are threatening her with serious consequences if she did not accept her childhood marriage, officials said on Monday.

3. Girl goes to police against father

Jaipur : A 15-year-old girl has complained against her father in Rajasthan saying he was forcing her to marry an elderly person, police said on Monday.

The Class 10 student told police that her father was trying to fix her marriage by chargingRs.35,000 from the would be in laws.

4. Forced marriage to become crime in UK

London : Forcing someone to marry against their will; a practice often reported from communities in Britain with origins in the Indian sub-continent,  will soon become a criminal offence, Premier David Cameron announced on Friday, comparing it with “slavery”…. Most cases involve individuals with origins in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Related Posts:

Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills.

Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21, as it is they who bear the brunt of an unsuccessful marriage – Karnataka HC

Why is abuse by parents taken so lightly by Indians?

The powers that Indian parents have over their children’s lives and choices.

Response from Conflicted Banker and when Arranged Marriages are not really ‘arranged’.

What do you think of Arranged Marriages where there is no direct or indirect coercion, caste-matching, horoscope-matching or dowry negotiations; and where the parents do no more than introduce the Prospective Bride and the Prospective Bride Groom?

And when would you judge (or blame) a man or a woman for breaking an engagement in such ‘arranged marriages’?

IHM,

Thanks for publishing my E-Mail. I’ve read the comments over the weekend, and I am grateful to you and all of your readers for providing your viewpoints on the issue.
Almost everybody has expressed sentiments which are very much in line with my own thoughts. As I stated, I don’t have any intention of marrying someone who does not want to be married to me (or anyone else), and most readers have agreed that it is the right stance. This has given me much more confidence in my decision.
I am personally in no hurry to get married, and although I think we would have made a great couple under other circumstances, I’m prepared to accept that nothing can possibly come out of a relationship forged under pressure. I must look elsewhere to find a life-partner. It does hurt a bit, of course, but that is to be expected. I can get over it.
Some people have suggested that friendship without romantic expectations would be difficult. I agree with them, and rest assured, I have considered this. However, I feel that it would only be fair to offer some assistance if she needs it and asks for it. My future course of action will essentially be to go back to life without her, while staying available if she needs any material or moral help. I don’t plan to meet her or see her again on a regular basis under any circumstances, because this would probably just result in me holding unfair romantic expectations from her.
I would also specifically like to respond to Atul’s comment. While I agree that I must accept some of the blame, it is not in the same manner that he suggests. I did write ‘I finally gave in’, but this is a bit of a misrepresentation of what really happened. A better way to say it would be that I finally accepted the idea that it might be time to look for someone to get married to. During my time in the US, I have dated women quite independently; however, back then, I was just starting out and did not want anything long-term, so those relationships were intentionally short-lived (and both sides knew it). I’ve only recently felt the need for something much more serious, but since I arrived in India only a couple of years ago, I found it quite daunting to find and enter the local dating scene, specially because I spend a huge amount of my time at work and have very little opportunity to attend social occasions. Moreover, I did not want a much younger woman than myself, and it seems that most women in my circle, who are around my age, are already married or at least committed. Since my parents already had a few supposedly suitable women in mind, I decided to go with that, on the condition that they would not interfere too much beyond setting up the date (and they kept their promise). I don’t see anything wrong with this myself. The problem, of course, was that I was expecting my ‘date’ to have come by her own free will too. This was not the case here.
Thanks once again.
I am glad that I took all of these second opinions. 🙂

What do you think of these doubts regarding recognition of marital rape as a crime?

What do you think of these doubts regarding recognition of marital rape as a crime?

“… recognizing marital rape

– if a marriage is violent, that must be grounds for divorce, but what are we saying when we insist it be treated as a crime? Is it preferable for a woman to have a husband in prison than be divorced? Does the idea of marital rape as a crime in fact protect the institution of marriage?

Rohini put it this way:

But given that marriage is a sexual relationship, should all cases of marital rape be punished with 7 years or more in jail?

Consider the following scenario: A young woman and man are married off, and the same night she comes crying and complaining that her husband raped her. Should he be jailed for what is, from his point of view, merely consummating their marriage?

Unless we are demanding very clearly that the state ensure that all marriages are consensual (are we? in which case, how?), then we can hardly demand that he should be jailed for years – that is simply inconsistent and unfair too.

So we need to make it much clearer what we mean by ‘recognition of marital rape’ before we can argue for it convincingly.” [Link]

From: “The impunity of every citadel is intact” – the taming of the Verma Committee Report, and some troubling doubts

Related Posts:

“Instituting the idea of marital rape raises the specter of a man going for long periods without sex even though he’s married!”

Making Marital Rape a legal offence is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex, not lost Virginity or Honor.
Forcible sex with wife doesn’t amount to marital rape: Court

This is what Haryana Khaps are not saying.

“Girls should be married at 16, so that they don’t need to go elsewhere for their sexual needs. This way rapes will not occur.”

Is it possible to make a man see his wife as a partner, if he has been socially conditioned to see her as someone who is supposed to obey and serve him?

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

Why did they surrender themselves repeatedly and offer sex to their husbands when…

An email: “But my parents, fearing the society and their reputation begged him to take me back.”

Four kinds of marriages in modern India. Which ones would you ban?

1. Some marriages have social approval, because they are not about love or lust.

120-year-old from Assam ties knot with 60-year-old

He presides over a family of 122 members, including two sons, four daughters and lots of grand-children, most of whom are married. Salima Khatun, Noor’s first wife, died in 2005.

“Soon after my mother’s death, my father requested us to find him another wife who would look after him.

It was not an easy job to find a bride for a 100-year-old. However, by the grace of god, we have found a new mother, though she’s half his age. She was married once early in life. Her husband died and she has no children,” said the bridegroom’s son, Hazi Azir Uddin. [Link].

A comment below the article thought the couple was lucky, the bride would not have to face a nagging mother in law. I would call them lucky when 60 year old women marry 60 year old men so they can both ‘look after each other‘.

2. Some marriages don’t have social approval, because,“…lust and greed by young blood cannot be said to be correct.”

The Rajasthan High Court says “We cannot allow society to suffer due to outcome of such a bad marriage. Such marriages are giving a bad message to society…”

So, It has been made compulsory that both the boy and girl produce three prominent persons as witness of the marriage from either side at Arya Samaj if their parents object to the marriage.

Before this Gujarat has had a similar ruling, where two adults need parental approval before they can marry.

3. Some marriages have parental approval and so are not condemned for being about ‘lust’.

Link shared by Nish. We are all aware of this, but I still found it disturbing.

“When Munni arrived in this fertile, sugarcane-growing region of north India as a young bride years ago, little did she imagine she would be forced into having sex and bearing children with her husband’s two brothers who had failed to find wives.”

“They took me whenever they wanted — day or night. When I resisted, they beat me with anything at hand,” said Munni, who had managed to leave her home after three months only on the pretext of visiting a doctor. [link]

4. One reason why our Patriarchal society disapproves of Choice Marriages is that then there would be no women willing to marry some men.

What kind of men? (link shared by Desi Girl)

i. Umed Singh, 73, a farmer, “If we hate daughters, it’s not without reason. What do you do with them? You send them out for education and they only bring a bad name to the family.”

Behrana and Dhimana villages have sex ratios of 378 and 444 respectively. Some residents’ reactions.

ii. “It’s God’s gift that most of the children born in this village are boys,” claims Dhimana village sarpanch Om Parkash, 70, a bachelor.

iii. Varinder Kumar Narula, 67, a headmaster: “It has to do with diet. People eat well here and so give birth to boys.”

iv. “You can get a woman for Rs 30,000 any day while a well-bred buffalo costs Rs 70,000,” says Ajit Singh, 45, a bank employee.

v. “… could cost you less but you have to spend …on fares travelling to far off places such as Assam,” adds Ranbir Yadav, 42, a local landlord.

Do these men deserve women in their lives, daughters, sisters or wives?
5. To ensure such men find wives, it is socially acceptable to have Barter Marriages. 
Parents marry their daughters and in return get a bride for their sons.
Not everybody can afford such marriages.
“I know we won’t get married and it’s very depressing,” says Manoj Kumar, 21. “We keep talking about it. But you need a job to get a wife. We don’t see either of the two happening,” adds Mandeep Ahlawat, 19. [Link]
Related Posts:

GV’s response to comments on ‘A marriage decided by a monkey.’

Dear IHM,
At the outset, let me thank you for this kind courtesy extended to me and for hosting my post on your blog.

I am deeply gratified at the warmth, enthusiasm, outspokenness, frankness, boldness, and variety in the views that your readers have expressed.

There are just too many questions to answer and it will take another long blog post to answer.
I have already answered some questions and will now attempt answering some more besides putting some more of my thoughts on the subject before the topic becomes cold and everyone shifts their attention to your next blog post.

I am not against love marriages.
While defending arranged marriages, I am not blind to some deficiencies and evil practices in our present system. We should correct them and then retain them as a viable alternative. Not everyone gets opportunities or is able to fall in love and marry. (I recall Sunder’s comment!) Why deny these people a chance for matrimonial happiness?

I vote for a PROPER marriage, whether love or arranged.
By proper arranged marriage I mean a marriage minus the common evils.
No dowries. The boy and girl must not be pressurised for a decision.
Parents/relatives/friends/well wishers may facilitate their meeting and then leave it to them to talk it over and decide.
Even if the elders think the match is great, the couple must have the final say.

By a proper love marriage, I mean a marriage between mature lovers.
Two sixteen or seventeen year old teenagers, falling in love, and wanting to marry, while still students is not a proper love marriage. Bobby was entertaining as a film. Let our teenagers not emulate them in real life.

[IHM: Legal age for marriage is 18 and 21 (should be equal for both but that’s another post) – but often parents push the children to elope by arranging minor daughter’s marriage when they sense she has found someone she might want to marry – or they kill her.
Amongst the educated, most young people are generally willing to wait till they are financially settled and the pressure to marry is, sadly from the family elders. ]

Climbing out of the bedroom window and eloping with your boyfriend , while he holds the ladder , is not my idea of proper love marriage. First be eligible, be in position to show and prove the merits and suitability of your chosen partner, make an attempt to convince your parents/elders, win them over, seek their support and blessings and for this if necessary take some time and be patient. Marrying in a hurry in defiance of their wishes must be a last resort and only when you are convinced that their reasons for opposing your marriage are wrong and totally unacceptable and you have tried your best to convince them.

In my story, after you sift through the spice (deliberately added to make it more readable ) I hope you could get an insight into the minds and attitudes of parents two generations ago. I felt I was modern by the standards prevailing those days. Today I appear very orthodox to many of you. However much you condemn my parents ways, their hurry for getting me married off, their aversion to love marriages, their belief in astrology, temple traditions, etc, I am convinced they were sincere. They genuinely were concerned about me. They also made some concessions to the times. During their time, they never had a chance to say no to the match that their parents fixed. At least I had the opportunity to meet and discuss to my heart’s content, all issues with my future wife. I am sure if either of us were unacceptable to the other, our parents would have called it off, Hanumaanji’s concurrence notwithstanding. They also tolerated our writing letters to each other, which some parents would have found disconcerting. The fear of the letters being used against each other if the match broke off would hover like a cloud over their minds.

Allytude asked what if the monkey had not taken a bite from that apple?
Good question. I wouldn’t have known at all. It would have been another dilemma for my father in law. Luckily he would have found support from my mother as she is even more devout and religious (or superstitious, to some of you). I believe, she would have been terribly disappointed, but something tells me she would have prevailed upon my father in law to make a second attempt! When a court case goes against you, don’t we appeal ? I guess my mother would have taken it upon herself to go there again with bananas this time instead of apples, and tried her luck once again. Now, I really can’t answer, what they would have done if the monkey had declined the bananas too! I and my wife would not have been affected of course. We were not even aware of what was going on.
But I am sure if the monkey had bitten into the banana, there would have been no further appeal or confirmation!

A striking difference between our generation and the present generation is that women are better educated, better accomplished, more confident, less tolerant of patriarchal tyranny and unfairness, economically less dependent on parents and husbands, more outspoken and this has resulted in their being more insistent on their rights, more choosy and less submissive. They have also made getting married that much more difficult. I personally welcome this. However, in some cases I fear this has been carried too far. I also sense some needless militancy in the minds of some very accomplished modern women. It almost appears there is a desire for revenge against gender discrimination rampant in the past.

[IHM: The problem is GV even today the discrimination is very, very rampant – I am sure sometimes it just gets too much to have to ‘fight’ for something that the rest of the world simply takes for granted. Also some women might appear ‘militant’ because women are not supposed to be forthright – just a thought.]

Some modern women/men appear to be opposed to any marriage unless it is a guarantee of permanent happiness and comfort for 24 hours a day and 365 days a year and they expect their spouse to be the provider of this happiness. They don’t for a moment think of their responsibility to reciprocate and provide this same happiness to their partner. Obviously it should be a two way arrangement , and both must reconcile to occasional differences, and disagreements and periods of stress and strain.

Some of us seem to be intolerant of any kind of stress or strain even if these are temporary. We are spoilt for choice these days. and I sometimes get the feeling, may be we would have been better off with less choice than we have now.

[IHM: Would love some examples of being ‘spoiled for choice’ 🙂 How would one be better if there was lesser choice? ]

We had and still have no choice when it came to our parents. What if we could choose them? Would we make a list of specifications and decide who should be our parents? God forbid. How many of us would be cast off by our own children as not meeting their specifications?

[ IHM: For this not to happen, Indian parents really need to start accepting their adult children as individuals. Key words: Mutual respect and Communication without infantalization.]

We have no choice when it comes to our children. A piece of flesh, comes out of a woman’s womb, flailing and wailing and we at once accept it as our son/daughter. Except for being able to choose whether or not we want a child, we have no choice regarding the qualities of our children. So we work to give them the good qualities.
Designer babies are still not reality.

[IHM: GV I feel attempts to create designer babies were always there, for example – everybody in India has always wanted a hundred designer sons exactly like Shravan Kumar and Ram.]

Sadly, we don’t have this attitude when it comes to our spouses. We want a ready made spouse, tailored to our specifications, and most of us do not even think whether we are ourselves tailored to our spouse’s specifications.

I fear greatly, we are all becoming increasingly selfish. At this rate, I foresee even more loneliness and unhappiness after a few more generations.

[IHM: But GV do you feel the older generations were not lonely in unhappy marriages? Men often had their den and seperate social circle, women socialised with women, there wasn’t much interaction with each other. Today couples communicate with each other much more, and I would say the difference is they (even women) are able to complain, and that too openly. ]

It might end up, each person for himself / herself. What is a departure from accepted practice today, might become the norm. 50 years ago, we frowned on love marriages. Today, so many of you are frowning on arranged marriages.

[IHM: GV the problem is with ‘forced-marriages’ where the couple is not allowed to have any say at all. You had more say in your marriage, then many young couples, specially women, have in their marriages even today. Like many have said, yours was not really an Arranged Marriage.]

The next generation might frown on marriage itself as an institution. Live in arrangements, which are socially disapproved today, might be the norm.
What next? Just one night stands? Rampant and random promiscuity? I don’t want to take my imagination any further. Mercifully I wont be around when all this happens.

[ IHM: Do you think committed relationships where both the partners are happy, and where children are cared for, where one partner can’t force the other to stay unless they wish to, where one partner can’t force another to tolerate their abusive families (or even a second wife), might just change some evils in the society, like dowry and big fat weddings, prejudice against widows, and pressure to ‘look’ married amongst Hindu women.
The only thing that might be a matter of concern is the ease with which a partner might leave – but here again, how right is it to force someone to stay against their will? Women are made to feel this works against them, but that is because it is assumed that women benefit from staying in relationships no matter how unhappy they are. ]

Bottom line:
I am not anti love marriage.
I am not necessarily always pro arranged marriage.
I am pro a good and mature marriage, whether love or arranged.
Mine was a good arranged marriage and I will not run down this method of getting married. Today we have much better tools. (Matrimonial portals etc.) Today we are better educated, better off economically and most of us are also much more reasonable during marriage negotiations. I think dowry among the educated middle class is almost dead, or at least should be. Which fool of a boy will expect a dowry from his in laws these days when the girl is as accomplished as he is?

IHM: If the wife is not as accomplished, is it okay to ask for dowry?

(I am not talking of the rural scenario where Khap Panchayats rule the roost)
One additional reform I earnestly seek in today’s arranged marriage concerns expense.
I believe the entire expenditure must be shared 50-50. By tradition, the girl’s party has always footed the bill, in all our communities. I think it’s time this custom ended.

Thanks for this opportunity to vent a little and also share my thoughts and feelings.
Thanks once again for this great opportunity to open out to all of you.
I have enjoyed writing this and reading all the comments.
I look forward to my continued participation, subject to time and convenience in future deliberations on this forum.

Regards
GV

IHM: Thanks GV 🙂

Guardian’s attempt to stop woman from marrying genuine suitor a crime …soon.

A news article says that one in every 16 women above 32 in Saudi Arabia is  forced to stay unmarried.

“There are a variety of reasons behind this phenomenon including unemployment, a housing shortage and obsolete social traditions.

Al-Fouzan urged men to find wives closer to their age. “This would help reduce the number of unmarried women,” he said. [Link, “Four Million single women in Saudi Arabia by 2015“]

A group of young Saudi men have launched a campaign to convince Saudi men of the unappreciated virtues of polygamy.

Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi blogger who often writes about women’s issues, said…

“… they want to convince the men to marry older women… The men want virgins, not older women or divorcees. The problem is that we have a lot of women in their late 20s or 30s who are not married and which men are not interested in, while the young ladies don’t want to be the second wife as their first marriage.”

Saudi men see polygamy as their right and prefer to marry young girls. Dowry – given by the husband to the bride’s father, makes it easier for richer, often older men to marry young women. Girls are often forced into such marriages.

Some academics are suggesting that suicide, especially among the young, is increasing. “…80 percent of these cases involved girls or young women. Causes included domestic abuse, favoritism expressed by parents toward male siblings, forced marriage and preventing marriage…”

The HRC is also seeking to include forced marriage as a human trafficking crime. A common motive for forced marriage is a father’s attempt to strengthen bonds between families or friends, often in exchange for a dowry that the father steals from his daughter.

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In some cases women, especially employed women, are prevented from getting married by their fathers, who deny them permission, out of concern of losing the household income. From the comments that follow this article it seems girls supporting their families is appreciated although Saudi girls are not allowed to drive and they can’t buy a car with their hard earned money, without a male guardian’s permission.
Once married whatever they earn, they might have to hand over to their husband who might otherwise ‘boot’ them out of their home. [link]
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“…the rising number of Saudi men marrying non-Saudi women is also contributing to the rise of single Saudi women.” Under current Saudi rules, Saudi women are not allowed to marry foreign men unless under exceptional circumstances. (This too is likely to change).

“…more and more young Saudi women are well educated, financially independent and exposed to different ways of thinking about themselves, relationships and their roles in society… this leads many young Saudi women to refuse the advances of men seeking to take a second, third or fourth wife.

Some women seek out foreign men, in the hopes that they will not end up in a polygamous marriage.

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All Saudi women are not unaware of injustice in the situation, they do object, question, and even write about it. Are young men finding ways to rebel too?

Last month, the HRC announced its effort to include the crime of adhl in the Kingdom’s official definition of human trafficking, which would codify a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to SR1 million to any guardian found guilty of preventing a woman’s right to marry a man otherwise deemed acceptable by Shariah.

Along with these changes, would it not be simpler if everybody had control over their own income? And some day, also over their own lives?