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RSS Chief recently claimed that divorces mostly happen in “educated and affluent families.” He was slammed for it but it still shows how regressive our society is!
While addressing the RSS workers in Ahmedabad on Sunday, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat claimed that the cases of divorce are more in “educated and affluent” families.
In a statement issued by the RSS he said, “Nowadays the number of divorce cases have increased a lot. People fight over trifle issues. The cases of divorce are more in educated and affluent families, because with education and affluence comes arrogance, as a result of which families fall apart. The society also falls apart because society is also a family.”
He also added that there is no alternative to a “virtuous and organised” Hindu society in India. RSS members were present at the gathering with their family members. Trying to evoke the past where he believed women were safer, Bhagwat added,”The condition of the society is because of the customs that have been practiced here for the last 2,000 years. Women were confined to homes. This was not the case 2,000 years ago. That was the golden age of our society.”
Later, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja and many others slammed Bhagwat’s statement on Twitter saying that it was a hugely regressive and foolish statement. However there were almost equal number of self-proclaimed keepers of Indian culture who supported his claims.
In conventional societies like India marriage is still held in high regard and most of the times families are involved in choosing of a spouse. Despite being more independent and educated, women are still raised to “get married and stay married.” That a marriage is forever is still largely practiced preached.
And when a marriage breaks down, due to whatever reason, despite all the efforts to “save it,” the easiest place to pin the blame is on the woman. The woman, instead of being the victim/survivor, the one whose entire life changes is seen as the culprit.
She is said to be ‘less tolerant,’ ‘not as adjusting,’ and even ‘not good for him.’ And if she is an independent working woman who is also career-oriented and has a mind of her own, she is the major causal factor for the catastrophes that lead to the divorce.
It is true that education and financial independence have given women an increased sense of self-worth and a sense of freedom. Hence, they do not take things like physical or emotional abuse silently. They call out any kind of discrimination taking place in the name of marriage which leads to discord. However the general causes for most divorces still remain what they earlier were- general incompatibility, sexual incompetence, extramarital relations, substance abuse, and financial discord.
In India divorce rates are still quite low as compared to the rest of the world. Census data suggests more than 4.2 million women either separated or divorced in 2011. Separation seems to be more prevalent in the cases of marital dissolution than divorce. This is actually, even more problematic for the ‘abandoned’ wife and children since the man moves on to a new life, but the woman’s legal status and economic rights hang in a limbo.
Single women in India still live a life full of social stigma. Even more if they are divorced, as the hugely feudal and patriarchal society treats them as “damaged goods.” It isn’t uncommon for women to literally be forced by their families to carry on in an abusive marriage where they sometimes face a threat to their lives! Young girls are often indoctrinated with the traditional concept of “Doli mein jao Arthi mein niklo” (go in a palanquin as a bride and come out only as a corpse on a bier).
Divorced women in India already face lack of economic and social support, little or no care for their psychological well-being. Even their families often abandon them for the fear of the ‘dishonour’ a divorced woman might bring to the family!
These women are forced to live life on the margins and quite often have children to support too. In such a scenario what the RSS Chief said is not only derogatory to women but also to the ones forced to continue living in abusive marriages thanks to the stigma associated with divorce.
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Pooja Priyamvada is a columnist, professional translator and an online content and Social Media consultant.
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