How Often Are Indian Girls Told “Do It If Your Husband Allows You Once You Marry”?

Girls are called paraya dhan in India, passed from one family to another, and their daily behaviour is policed depending on parental plans for their marriage.

Girls are called paraya dhan in India, passed from one family to another, and their daily behaviour is policed depending on parental plans for their marriage.

How many times have your parents stopped you from doing something and told you to do it after marriage? Be it travel, wearing jeans, shorts or even a long skirt. Women seem to have heard it all. I was once told not to go to my own terrace because people will ‘watch’. It was added that I can go on a terrace freely at my in-laws house.

Parents don’t realise the horrifying result of such statements in many cases! The ambition of girls gets restricted to a large extent. Age, colour, height, work and many other factors occupy their minds. 

A look at media representation

Pimples are natural but girls tend to work more on their face to avoid any marks so that they get a nice groom. They could work on a career but they don’t. Many grow up believing that marriage is their ticket out of restrictions imposed by parents or society at large.

An episode in Made In Heaven shows that Punjabi girls participate in a beauty contest to become the bride for an NRI man, contrary to the tradition of Swayamvar in Indian mythologies. It is a real thing in many areas. 

As far as travelling is concerned, we understand that the world in general is not safe for girls. But what guarantee do we have that the husband will be strong enough to handle any mishap? In the movie Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, when a couple is surrounded by goons, the wife (a black belt karate champion) saves the day by thrashing them. In real life self defence classes, women are often taught to run for safety first. So, what does marriage have to do with anything?

Moreover, the biases don’t leave food preferences alone either. If the girl’s family prefers vegetarian food, then she is forbidden to have non-vegetarian food even if she wants to. But, if her husband’s family eats non-veg food, she can have as much as she likes!

A couple of personal experiences

A couple of my cousins wore salwar suits from the age of 15 to 28. They began wearing jeans and all sorts of fancy dresses at 28 because they got married then. I am 25 and relatives taunt me for wearing jeans. Because, I should of course wear them only when I am married, right?

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One of my seniors never wore jeans or dresses, and made fun of people who did. She always wore salwar suits or kurtas. After marriage she started wearing dresses, got a maternity shoot done, and is rarely seen in kurtas anymore. She still makes fun of people wearing dresses and jeans because somehow marriage gives her the license to do whatever she wants!

Why does a woman need anyone’s permission to do anything? Aren’t we liable to ourselves for our lives? While parents/ boyfriends/ husbands might care for our safety, why do they have to impose anything on us? Aren’t we human?

I appeal to all women to support and trust other women. Be it your daughter/ sister/ friend/ colleague or anyone else! Let them live their lives in a positive manner and help them stay happy. Marriage shouldn’t be the license to anything other than a life long commitment and compatibility. Do not tie a girl’s happiness to a person who might have no idea of her life and ambitions.

Image source: shutterstock

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Dr Arushi

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