Over the years, your support has made Women’s Web the leading resource for women in India. Now, it is our turn to ask, how can we make this even more useful for you? Please take our short 5 minute questionnaire – your feedback is important to us!
Recently, I heard that a distant relative, a young woman, had married a paternal cousin (though not a first cousin). The news surprised me, and not just because of the health risks of consanguineous marriages. In the South Indian community that I hail from, marriages between cousins are not at all uncommon, provided they follow certain norms.
Until a generation ago, it was very common (in fact, even expected) that a girl would marry her mama or athai’s (bua’s) son. Marriages between the children of two brothers or two sisters are however strictly forbidden, since such children are considered true siblings, not cousins.
Which is why this marriage I heard of surprised me. Knowing fully well that the genetic risks are no different whether one marries a cousin related in one way or another, nevertheless, it seems less ‘strange’ to marry a cousin related through a maternal line. Because that is what is familiar. And familiarity breeds thoughtlessness. (Even among educated people, it seems.)
Then, I came across this video (thanks, IHM for the link!) and was appalled to find children as young as 5 and 6 talking about being ‘polluted’ by those from Dalit families.
Why? Obviously because from a very young age, they have been so familiarised with the concept of untouchability that even without fully understanding what it means, they know how it works.
Years ago, while working as a market researcher, I was conducting focus group discussions at a remote village near Muzaffarpur in Bihar. Everything went well and I was winding up for the day when a group of the more educated villagers (‘BA pass’) gathered to chat with me.
We discussed peaceably the issues the village had and the attractions of city life when one young man piped up. “Madam, people say Bihar is lawless and unsafe; what do you think? Haven’t we treated you well? Did you have any difficulty?” And then he delivered the coup de grace. “That’s why you must interact only with people of good caste, like us. Then you will know how good the people of Bihar are.”
No doubt that young man was once like these kids in the video with their shining eyes and laughter and pushing and shoving.
When thinking about caste and other taboos, my own reaction to a distant marriage in my family showed me how easy it is to be thoughtless.
Founder & Chief Editor of Women's Web, Aparna believes in the power of ideas and conversations to create change. She has been writing since she was ten. In another life, she used to be read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
If you want to get back to work after a break, here’s the ultimate guide to return to work programs in India from tech, finance or health sectors - for women just like you!
Last week, I was having a conversation with a friend related to personal financial planning and she shared how she had had fleeting thoughts about joining work but she was apprehensive to take the plunge. She was unaware of return to work programs available in India.
She had taken a 3-year long career break due to child care and the disconnect from the job arena that she spoke about is something several women in the same situation will relate to.
More often than not, women take a break from their careers to devote time to their kids because we still do not have a strong eco-system in place that can support new mothers, even though things are gradually changing on this front.
A married woman has to wear a sari, sindoor, mangalsutra, bangles, anklets, and so much more. What do these ornaments have to do with my love, respect, and commitment to my husband?
They: Are you married?
They: But You don’t look like it
Me: (in my Mind) Why should I?
Why is being married not enough for a woman, and she needs to look married too? I am tired of such comments in the nearly four years of being married.
I believe that anything that is forced is not right. I must have a choice. I am a living human, not a puppet. And I am not stopping anyone by not following any tradition. You are free to do whatever you like to do. But do not force others. It’s depressing.