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Why Are Women Still Forbidden From Eating & Called Names For Their Appetites By In-Laws?

On the one hand, our families almost force-feed their sons-in-law and on the other, forbid DILs from eating. Some women share their stories. 

On the one hand, our families almost force-feed their sons-in-law and on the other, forbid DILs from eating. Some women share their stories.

Even in 2021, it is an unfortunate reality that several daughters-in-law in India are still almost tortured and disrespected by their in-laws. Be it for making their own career choices or how they dress or even if they choose to have children. A number of DILs all over the country suffer at the hands of their in-laws and even husbands at times.

In several families, they are also shamed for their weight, food habits and choices, thus causing them mental and physical agony. This shaming often leads to women eating lesser and lesser or the families forbidding them from eating certain things.

A few months ago, an author, Ruchira Ghosh, shared a story of how she, her mother and aunt were constantly picked on and shamed by their respective in-laws for eating ‘too much.’ The story also discussed how bahus were deprived of basic nourishment even during their pregnancies which led to a lot of complications.

When the story was shared on Instagram, it garnered a lot of responses where some expressed their anger on the way the women were treated. Meanwhile, some others could empathise and resonate with her ordeal. Several other women also wrote about how they or some times their loved ones were treated in the same way.

Here are some of the responses that were both heartbreaking and heart-wrenching at once. 

It got mothers into the habit of eating last and the least

kittu_203 said, “Yeah it gave my mother a habit of eating last so that every member could have an adequate amount and was always feeling guilty whenever she eats the second time.”

cankyfloss08 shared that her mother’s mother-in-law would always pass sarcastic comments whenever her mother had an extra glass of milk or ate a few extra idlis. She wrote, “She eventually started locking the fridge and food cupboards from my mum. My mum comes from a family where food was always abundant. Her MIL was just stingy with food even though they were well-to-do.”

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She added, “My dad didn’t support my mum whenever his mother berated her for eating more. He’d just tell her to adjust. It came to a point where my mum was allowed only 1 main meal a day.”

Shaming DILs for eating is pretty common too

krantikari_nari wrote, “When I lived with my in-laws, I decided to make home-made ghee. For over a month, I meticulously collected cream. When I finally made ghee, I was so proud of myself. During lunch, I started to offer ghee to everyone at the table when my FIL says, “Tu mat khana ghee. Aur moti ho jaegi.” (Don’t eat ghee. You will become obese.)

She added, “I was furious! Remarks about my weight were common in that house, but what really pissed me off was that he singled me out at the dinner table. I told him I’ll decide what to eat and not him. My tone was so angry that he didn’t dare say another word.”

neha22yadav shared that while this hasn’t happened to her, she has heard stories from her mother about her grandmothers. She wrote that her mother and grandmothers in-laws experienced rationing of food items, especially ghee, sweets and milk. And added, “Women (the youngest bahus being the last of course) were expected to eat at the very end.”

Food was given only at certain times

“That’s quite the story of my Mom. So eerily similar,” wrote avnisuma. She added, “while she was pregnant with me, she wouldn’t get food if she got stuck in any work and came back to the kitchen a little later than the usual dining time.” Avnisuma also revealed this led to her having a premature baby weighing only 900 gms

Words_and_blues shared that her mother went through something similar. “She used to do the house chores for seven people and was reprimanded if she ate even one more chapatti. I mean come on. A person who is doing physical work for 20 hours a day needs to eat! Despicable.

“One of the first things my mother taught me was never to begrudge anyone their meal. Choose to go hungry if your food helps fill another’s tummy, but never snatch someone else’s meal,” she wrote.

.svatantra. said, “It is as simple, as the quantity of food one eats depends on the kind of metabolism a person has. If this kind of behaviour prevails for basic things like food, I wonder how would other things be in such families.”

It still happens to women!

“I couldn’t believe this happened to women, as I hadn’t been brought up like that,” said jayk0411. She added, “When I heard of a similar case of diet control of a pre-teen, it was because they wanted her to be a dainty, delicate girl.”

Discussing how shocking all this is, _tuhina_08 asserted, “I mean son-in-law is fed forcibly at the girl’s house but the daughter-in-law should eat limited. As per the so-called norms of the society that women should eat less and also should not eat some of the privileged food items.”

Another reader tejtej99 wrote that her mother-in-law asked her, “Gin ke nahi khaati?” (Don’t you count and eat?)

As several women shared their experiences of going through the same thing, milli_singhal wrote, “So many incidents and so many readers, so many afraid to pen their story as their in-laws will read the facts of what they had done.” She added, “So life goes on… fear, myths, teary eyes, try to speak-issue creator… so much more within the ones we can’t share here.”

It is an unfortunate reality that so many married women still have to face the brunt of patriarchal control by their-in laws. Ruchira Ghosh’s article resonated with so many women who went through or know someone who went through the same trauma. At the same time, for others, it came as a shock that these things continue to happen to this day in Indian families.

However, the reality of the plight of so many Indian women simply cannot be ignored.

Picture credits: Still from Netflix movie Lust Stories

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Aditi Singh Kaushik

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