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How many times do we need to remind people that daughters are not liabilities? That the girl child isn’t some object for which the 'burden' shifts on to another person after she acquires the married tag?
How many times do we need to remind people that daughters are not liabilities? That the girl child isn’t some object for which the ‘burden’ shifts on to another person after she acquires the married tag?
A son is a son all his life. A daughter is a daughter only till the time she gets married.
A popular saying that is usually said in reverse is: A son is a son only till he gets married. A daughter is a daughter all her life.
I had always believed the popular version to be utter nonsense because the relationship between a parent and a child shouldn’t change based on the marital status of a person.
The car manufacturing mammoth Hyundai proved how wrong the popular version was and, in fact, reiterated the patriarchal belief that daughters are not just liabilities, but also should cease to have any relationship with their parents after marriage.
It so happened that while booking a new car for my mother, we asked about the Exchange or Loyalty discount. We had been given this discount earlier too when I had bought my i10 a decade ago. That time the car to be exchanged was a Santro, in my father’s name. We had no trouble booking the new i10 for me. This time, however, the new car was to be in my mother’s name. It so turned out that because car we were giving back, the i10, was not in my mother’s name but in mine, they had to check whether the Exchange discount was even applicable.
At first, we thought that the doubt was probably because the discount would be applicable only if the car owner remained same. Imagine my horror when the higher ups at the showroom clarified that the discount would be very much applicable; but only if the daughter was unmarried.
Needless to say, the feminist in me was much affronted on behalf of my sisters who were married, separated, divorced. The marital status of a woman was no one’s business, especially not a car manufacturer’s.
Despite my single unmarried status, I was quite vocal in raising my objection to this rule of theirs. I would remain my mother’s daughter even after marriage. They understood the point but, as is the common reaction to ‘insignificant feminist demands’, instantly laughed it off. As if the foremost thought on their mind was, ‘Tsk…Tsk… Such a minor thing and this woman is making an issue out of it. Silly woman.’
Thankfully they didn’t say it as much. But what they said didn’t really offer any real understanding of why such a rule even existed. Their feeble explanation was that they didn’t make the rules, Hyundai did. As if that was some reason to accept this patriarchal practice.
To add further insult to injury, the salesman who was booking our car deemed it necessary to give further justification to this. “Because, after marriage the liability shifts, right?”
Are we even in the 21st century? It’s difficult to believe that we are almost on the cusp of the year 2022 when patriarchy exists in every aspect of our lives, and rears its head in visible and invisible ways.
It is appalling that even today there are official forms and documents asking for the father’s or the husband’s name but not the mother’s.
Way back in 2000 when Sushmita Sen adopted a girl child, we hailed her. In the 20 years since, we haven’t even bothered to update our beliefs that there could be children who don’t have a father’s name attached to them. Why hasn’t her example not prompted us to update our forms, our systems, our beliefs yet?
In a country where there are 74 million single women, some of whom are daughters, some mothers, shouldn’t we be taking cognizance of the fact that a sizeable section of the population is not attached to a male relative by marriage? And even if they are, should that really matter?
How many forms ask for the mother’s name or the wife’s name? Why aren’t married sons reminded that their ‘liability’ and allegiance is to their wives now and so they can’t avail of the exchange discount?
I wonder what do single mothers or their children feel when they are faced with the task of filling up such details on outdated forms. What if the father passed away? What if the woman escaped an abusive relationship and no longer has any relationship with her ex? What if the woman was always a single mother and the children have no father, like in the case of adopted daughters? Aren’t they forced to relive their trauma when faced with having to explain the absence of a father?
Do we genuinely need that information to process a bank loan or issue a gas connection?
Often times, people believe that lack of education and awareness are to blame for such beliefs. But is it, really? The sales man at Hyundai was literate and aware enough, I would guess. At another table, a short distance away I saw another family, just like ours. Parents and a woman who appeared to be their daughter, intently listening to the salesman’s spiel. Surely, it wasn’t the first time they had women drivers purchasing their cars.
So no, awareness couldn’t have been an excuse either. It all always boils down to patriarchy and a tendency to let things be.
In all honesty, I am not doing much to bring about any radical change either. Other than putting forth my objections at the showroom or now writing a post about it, I too am letting things be. I am certainly not going to spend my time, money, and effort fighting legal battles for official documents to be updated. In fact, many women have already waged that battled before me. Despite those legal judgements, the norm still remains shameful. Neither will I take this up with Hyundai for them to extend its Loyalty benefit to parents of married daughters too.
But I would hope that enough unmarried and married daughters (and, sons) would read this piece and raise their objections every time they walk into a car showroom for Hyundai and other automobile manufactures, or any such marketplaces, really, to hear us loud and clear.
Daughters, married or not, are not liabilities. Daughters, married or not, do not cease to be their parents’ daughters.
Image source: a still from the film Karwaan
Piyusha Vir is a writer, artist, a CELTA-certified English Language trainer, and a Creative Writing Coach.
She was awarded the Top 5 position in the Orange Flower Awards 2018 for the category of Writing read more...
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