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After reading an article about a woman who was being forced to get married, I started wondering if we really have that freedom.
A few days ago, I read an article about a 26-year-old adult (I HAD to write that) woman. The woman, named Sheena Chaudhary, wrote a letter to the Delhi Commission for Women seeking intervention and police protection from her parents who were pressurising her to get married. In the letter, she stated that she is ‘not mentally prepared for it’ and that her parents had fixed her marriage without her knowledge.
Fearing her safety due to all this, Sheena left her home-town Dholpur, Rajasthan, where she works and went to Delhi. Her parents filed a missing person report and when the Dholpur district police found her, they took her back.
Sheena is a Mahatma Gandhi National fellow with IIM Bangalore and she wishes to study further and work too. However, her parents threatened to stop her from doing both. Additionally, in an online article, I read that the Dholpur police took away Sheena’s phone as well. It was only returned to her after Rajasthan’s People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) protested.
While the news shook me to my core, I was happy that the DCW and the PUCL quickly took action on this matter. And quite honestly, I am also starting to feel unsafe in my own house.
I am a 24-year-old student and I recently started my PhD programme. Since I have already made my choice to stay unmarried, I am working hard to achieve independence and freedom.
My father directly suggested that I marry young because ‘I’ll lose my charm.’ Meanwhile, my mother said, ‘Please think about that. Eventually, you need someone who can take care of you when you’re sick.’ From my father to my mother, I have faced it all.
Though my parents are quiet now thanks to my education, I somehow feel like my father still looks for grooms for me. He probably asks his friends and acquaintances in our community about it. A mere call or WhatsApp text from any such person triggers and scares me. I even had to sneakily block one such woman on my mother’s phone.
If 26-year-old Sheena had to face such pressure to get married at this age, it is saddening to think how women younger than her feel. Marriage is a life-altering event. And though it does bring two families together, ultimately, it is two people’s business. If one of them is unhappy, it has a rippling effect on others around them.
What is the point of spending large sums of money if your child doesn’t want to get married in the first place? Would you rather have your child be happy or the people from society (who don’t really care about you) to be happy? This is exactly why the choice and freedom of choice is important. And Article 21 in our Constitution even supports it!
While I have support from my cousins and my aunt about this choice, I realised it is important that I know the laws and legal procedures that would help me. With this article, I just hope other women like me start finding more about the Indian judicial system and the organisations that help them feel and remain safe.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie What’s Your Rashee?
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