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Remember that evil bahu from Baghban who was all set to destroy the Great Indian Family? In reality, the daughter-in-law in many Indian households is forced to fight for her privacy and her very dignity.
“Demand for privacy by a married woman after she enters her matrimonial home cannot be dubbed as cruelty towards the husband to grant him divorce,” held the Delhi High court in a recent judgment. “Privacy is a fundamental human right. Oxford dictionary defines privacy as ‘a state in which one is not observed or disturbed by other people.’ So when a woman enters into matrimony, it is the duty of family members of her matrimonial home to provide her with some privacy”, added the judges.
The husband in this case had filed the divorce plea before the trial court alleging that his wife had treated him cruelly and pressurised him to set up a separate home as she did not want to live in a joint family. This judgment is a progressive step, contrary to the recent outrageous Supreme Court decision that empowered men to divorce their wives if they separate them from their parents. I am genuinely grateful to the High Court for recognizing that an Indian daughter in law (DIL) is a human being worthy of “privacy”.
However, I could not help but smirk at thought of ‘‘a state in which one is not observed or disturbed by other people’ being applied to a daughter in law!
The moment a new DIL joins a family, every action and word of hers is scrutinized, and brutally judged. She should have a smile on her face like a clown, as she slogs all day and serves a bunch of new people who she never knew in her previous, (carefree) life even when they make offensive, hurtful, sarcastic remarks. She is guilty until proven innocent on the most lame and mundane issues. She is supposed to magically win the hearts of stuck-up, set in their ways people who, by the way, are always right!
Speaking of privacy, how may DILs get to lock their bedrooms and spend some time reading or surfing the net or talking to their friends/family? She would have committed the absolute sin if she did so at her in-laws’ place!
Infact, some parents are so insecure that they don’t like it even when their married sons and their wives lock their bedrooms. They do whatever they can in their capacity to ensure that the son and DIL do not get any private time and that they should be the priority.
A friend of mine and her husband moved out of her in-laws place after 4 years of marriage. Her mother-in-law did not like it when the young couple went out for movies and dinners alone. She insisted that a ‘cultured’ married couple should go out as a family with parents and that they are not some ‘college couple’ who can roam around. She also loved to spend Sunday afternoons napping next to her 30-year-old married son! The DIL would lie down in the other room and the father-in-law would lie on the sofa in the living room!
Another married friend has never gone on a vacation with her husband (if I don’t count the honeymoon). Her mother-in-law who lives with them wants to be part of every vacation.
I don’t understand the psychology of such women who do not give privacy to their married sons and their wives. Do they not have their husbands to spend time with them? Even if they unfortunately don’t, the son is not supposed to take that place of a companion. Why do they even get their sons married, when they act like a woman fighting with another woman for a man’s affection, when this man happens to be their son?
The concept of privacy for a DIL does not resonate with the in-laws. A DIL has zero privacy. Because she is scolded for answering the door without that dupatta. Because she is ridiculed when the chapati is not as round as the moon. Because she cannot get a moment of peace alone to herself as that is considered selfish. Because she has to be shamed for spending time with her lawfully wedded husband.
The Indian DIL is not being cruel when she asks her husband to live in a house separate from her in-laws. She is compelled to do so because of the cruelty inflicted on her.
And doing so does not make her the evil Bahu from Baghban!
Disclaimer: To all the in-laws who are not as described in this post, I am happy to know that you exist!
I like to write about the problems that have plagued the Indian society. I feel
Very true ,pillow talk of married sons is of great importance to indian MILs.They go to lengths of cheapness,any remedy for thid
Yes Preeti, I have seen such behaviour closely… Wish I knew of any remedies!!
Desi culture is too primative, newly wed couples need to live separate. MIL need to back off and the sons need to speak up for their new wives.
Absolutely, if the son is sensible, then the problems are easily solved.
A need for autonomy is a basic need for educated and independent healthy adults. It is not only privacy that is important but also autonomy. In India we forget that even children should be given their privacy and autonomy at times to understand and explore their own bodies and decision making skills. This helps them understand themselves and thereby be more capable as independent adults in the outside world. This applies to both girls and boys. If we always hold their hands and make decisions or interfere in decision making for them, they will turn out to be incapable and disabled in their thinking and decision making processes. When children are expected to earn their livelihoods, deal with problems and deal with sex and reproduction as an outcome on their own after a certain age, then little nitty gritty details of living cannot be decided by someone other than themselves. It lacks common sense and seems completely ridiculous!! Further if women are to bond with their husbands especially in an arranged marriage, they must feel secure and supported by them. They will not be fully invested in a relationship that doesn’t also give back as much as they are putting out. If girls are expected to “grow up” to leave their parental home and bond with a stranger, why is a man considered so fragile, weak and incapable of doing the same? Is he slower in developing and “growing up” than the woman that he needs a constant helping hand from his parents and his wife too? One wonders of men who do not grow up but always remain boys- tera saboon slow hai kya? Patriarchy- put quite simply seems -very foolish -if questioned!! The problem is we took a very long time questioning it!!!
“Is he slower in developing and “growing up” than the woman that he needs a constant helping hand from his parents and his wife too? One wonders of men who do not grow up but always remain boys- tera saboon slow hai kya?”
Loved it Sonia. I may have told you before, but you should seriously consider writing yourself. Your insights are sometimes better than the articles! 🙂
Thanks Tanvi, I do enjoy voicing and writing my opinions and most of your topics are the ones I feel strongly about. I also appreciate your style of writing which is clear and strong yet balanced and reasonable. It has the right mix of content and context and although it may be based largely from personal experiences or real life situations, it is not limited to a specific case so as to become a purely personal narrative. As a sociologist I am very fascinated and passionate about broader social patterns and systemic inequalities -their causes and effects, while also hypothesising changes that seem practical. Your writing often reflects this specific interest of mine and so I always read your posts and comment. I am lazy I guess to write articles on my own but am so happy that you do the hard work of ruminating and putting paper to pen and making these topics known.
Thanks Sonia, appreciate your encouraging words!
Sure, DIL deserves every fundamental right. But, then they shouldn’t expect any financial support from their parents, like they did in the movie ‘Baghban’. Stand up on your own two feet, be independent in true sense of the word. If compared to the movie, the topic is debatable. However, as a social issue, it needs deeper evaluation and a complete overhaul.
Fair enough. Agreed. The Bahu from Baghban was a negative character. She did not treat her parents-in-law well, yet tried to take advantage of them financially. I do not dispute that what she did was wrong. What I was trying to bring out in the article is that if a daughter-in-law demands privacy that does not automatically make her evil! It does not mean that she would throw her in-laws out of her home. But yes, she deserves basic respect and privacy as a human being, without being judged.
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