The Tradition Of ‘Bidai’ Is A Social Evil That Violates Women’s Constitutional Rights

Bidai as a wedding underlines the 'enslaved' status of women and girl children in society, leads to discrimination against women, and should be banned, says the author.

Bidai as a wedding underlines the ‘enslaved’ status of women and girl children in society, leads to discrimination against women, and should be banned, says the author.

People talk a lot about the human rights violations slapped upon women. There is condemnation for many of these injustices and transgressions, but I have never found anyone say a word against the age-old (do not know how old) practice of bidai that we Indians follow.

You might now ask me – how is vidhaai/bidai a violation of human rights? Let me explain.

Bidai is the post wedding ritual where the woman (bride) is taken to her husband’s house after marriage. It’s a common ritual practiced by Indians, and no one has ever found anything wrong with this.

I wonder why the women who go through this never questioned it on the grounds of violation of human rights. Why has no one ever noticed that the girl never gets an option to live where she likes after marriage? She is pulled into the groom’s house and is supposed to live there, taking care of everyone in the house (this is what is normally expected of her – there might be exceptions, but I’m not speaking of those).

Why is bidai a violation of her rights?

But, Article 21 of Indian Constitution gives a right to life and personal liberty to both men and women equally (right to equality, Article 14-18).

I say that the major constitutional right violation and the root cause of every problem, every injustice that is inflicted on Indian women is the bidai.

  • Bidai doesn’t take the woman’s consent when it demands that she leave her house and live at someone else’s house.
  • Bidai as a tradition demands a lot of dowry or other forms of it like bringing ornaments, furniture, and anything and everything from her parents.
  • Bidai demands that the woman become a slave of the house where she gets her food from, as most of them are not empowered enough to have a cozy job, and they cannot choose to do odd jobs to earn for themselves, as that would be a blot on the ‘family honour’!
  • Bidai demands that she be a lot what she doesn’t want to be.
  • Bidai demands that she do a lot that she doesn’t want to do or can’t do.

Yes, bidai is the root cause of a lot of domestic violence, and we or the PWDV Act of 2005 cannot stop it unless and until we ban bidai, totally.

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Is there a viable alternative?

People ask me what is the alternative if not taking her to the husband’s home?

I say, ask her where she wishes to live. If she readies to stay at his home with his family, the matter is settled. But if not, she should have a say in where she lives.

Banning bidai gives power to her to choose (she has never been given any power before), to leave the house along with her husband without having to divorce (ref: supreme court verdict, 7 Oct ’16, by justice Anil R Dave, where a husband was granted divorce for compelling him to “leave his parents” as they said, or rather we say ‘live at a place of comfort for both the wife and husband’). She will be considered a ‘worthy human being’ by society and her own parents, who otherwise consider a girl child unworthy as she brings a lot of burden in the name of bidai, leaves home for sure after marriage, and is of ‘no use to them’ then or later.

Root cause of all injustice to women

Yes, the root cause of every injustice, apart from physical violence, inflicted upon a woman from birth, is in my opinion, the bidai.  She is either not given proper food,(ref: real story shared by dd national, one where a girl was not given proper food while her brother was well fed with healthy food) or given least importance at dining tables, having to eat at last if at all anything is left after males feast first. She is given poor education as they say she is here only to leave. She is not even given a voice as she is finally someone else’s house maid and slave, so she doesn’t need any (voice).

Also, how are the parents of a woman less in importance as compared to the parents of man; so much that they must be venerated and taken care of, while the other is often considered a burden and thrown out?

Yes, the root cause of every mental torture, agony, distress, degradation, humiliation and regression a woman suffers from her birth is all because of the social evil named bidai, as much a social evil as sati was – not many of those in favour of it felt that it was wrong. And it should be banned!

Image source: a still from the movie A Suitable Girl

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