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Despite our so-called ‘modern’ thoughts, the system of arranged marriages is still incredibly unequal and unfair to women across the country!
In our country, the concept of marriage is always understood by the joining of two families and not with the two individuals who wish to marry. The practice of marriage is itself involves a lot of cringe-worthy practices.
These include using matrimonial services for a particular caste, religion and languages. Based on these and the property they own, one family decides the worth of the other family. This system is always to be derogatory to the women. I have seen people rejecting women based on their beauty, skin colour, body, caste and even their financial status.
Families in our society raise women from a young age to be good wives. They make her do the household chores, talk with respect to the elders, among others.
I remember hearing a 12-year-old girl being told to go help her mother in the kitchen when she said she was bored. Meanwhile, when her brother uttered the same thing, they asked him to go play outside.
Why can’t a girl go outside and play or why can’t a boy do household chores? When asked this, they said she would be going and living in another house and that she needs to know all these things. And that the other family won’t respect her family for ‘not teaching her these things.’
From a young age, women are brought up only to be someone’s wife. If a girl wants to get a tattoo, dye her hair or even go out with her friends, she is told to get married, get permission from her husband then do as she pleases. Why must women need to take someone’s permission to do anything but not men?
The prospect of marriage, when arranged by the parents has things under the garb of traditions which are, more often than not, against women! Firstly, there is the concept of dowry. It may be legally abolished but it is still quite rampant in the society. Here, only the bride’s family gives dowry to the groom’s, this is literally like doing business. And only proves how women are treated more like property and less like humans.
The second thing is the fact that only the woman has to leave her house, her parents and friends and pets and move in with the husband. In cases of an arranged marriage, the husband is usually a stranger and his family. They expect the woman to adapt to their family and lifestyle quickly and work for them. Rarely ever in history are men seen doing the same! However, they expect the woman to work for his family like their household help. At the same time, she can’t do things her own way simply because now that she’s married, it is her duty!
The traditional practice of marriage itself has a lot of misogynistic stuff including wearing a thali. This is a sacred gold thread that a man puts around his wife’s neck during the wedding ceremony. This is like telling society that this woman is my property. But why should only women wear that? Why must they be the only ones telling the world that they are married? And why can’t men do the same and tell the world that they, too, are married?
Once a woman is married, she has to change her name to that of her husband’s and throughout her life, she has the various titles from ‘Miss’ to ‘Mrs.’ But the men neither change their name nor their title. All their lives they remain ‘Mr.’
Women are expected to drop their careers and education and work in the kitchen and look after their family. And if a woman does choose to pursue her career, society constantly shames her and calls her names.
I have seen several married women who have degrees in law, engineering or even a PhD. However, after marriage, pursuing any of these is a mere distant dream for all of them.
The amount of emotional labour that a woman puts into caring for the whole family is something we never talk of. Men don’t usually take into account that she may be having a bad day. All they want is for their wives to always smile and be grateful to them. I have heard some men say that since they go out and work hard when they come home, they expect their wives to make them happy instead of talking about her feelings. ‘She is only at home. What could possibly be the problems that she has?’ is the most common answer they give.
Women are subjected to a lot of inequalities in the name of arranged marriage in our country. I believe that the practise needs to stop immediately and women should be allowed to choose their own partners without any stigmatisation.
The belief that women are only supposed to be in the kitchen and that it’s their sole responsibility to look after the family needs to be broken down too. Similarly, the patriarchy and the caste system that grows from the system of arranged marriages also needs to be broken down.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Saath Nibhana Saathiya 2
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A Research Scholar, Bibliophile, Atheist, feminist and an introvert.
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