She Married An Older Man With A 12 Yr Age Gap To Escape Her Regressive Community…

In her community, she was scared of expectations imposed on educated women, who were still expected to conform to traditional gender roles, confined to the kitchen and denied the opportunity to pursue a career.

Recently, I had the privilege of hosting a newly married couple as guests. The girl, a bright 23-year-old, was originally from Haryana but had settled in Mumbai. The boy, on the other hand, was 35 years old and from Rajasthan. However, what caught my attention was the fact that she was his third wife, him having divorced his previous two partners.

Normalised toxic masculinity in her community

My curiosity got the better of me, and I couldn’t resist asking her what led her to marry a man twelve years her senior, who had already gone through two failed marriages. In response, she calmly explained that her decision was shaped by the prevalence of the dowry system in her community. She firmly opposed the idea of her father paying even a single penny for her dowry. She pointed out that the more educated the groom, the higher the dowry demand. Additionally, she expressed her frustration with the expectations imposed on educated women, who were still expected to conform to traditional gender roles, confined to the kitchen and denied the opportunity to pursue a career.

She further shed light on the deep-seated patriarchy ingrained in her community, recounting a distressing incident involving her cousin who violently assaulted his wife in front of numerous witnesses. Shockingly, not a single person intervened, reinforcing the toxic belief that such behaviour was acceptable for maintaining control over women.

Hearing her account left me devastated, but for her, it was a normalized reality. She explained that these factors motivated her to seek a partner outside her community. When she met her current husband at work two years ago, she saw an opportunity for a different life, despite the significant age gap and the challenges of adapting to a new culture, lifestyle, and cuisine.

During their short month of marriage, she already found herself struggling to adjust to the different food habits. Nevertheless, she remained determined to settle in Delhi and pursue further studies, aspiring to take the UPSC and other competitive exams. She credited her decision to not marry within her community for providing her with the freedom and opportunities to pursue her dreams.

Harsh realities for women

This story is just one of many that exposes the harsh realities faced by young women. It highlights the persistence of archaic practices such as dowry, domestic abuse, and the systemic oppression of women within patriarchal structures.

Just a couple of days back I finished watching this web series Dahaad. I could not help but draw parallels between what the girls went through in the series and what this girl had to narrate.

We must recognize that responsibility lies with the conservative thought processes prevalent in society and the communities to which these women belong. The burden of unrealistic expectations, the fear of societal judgment, and the curse placed upon their families weigh heavily on these young girls, often leading them to make drastic choices in search of liberation.

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It is disheartening to witness how innocent girls fall victim to the lurking predators in society, often sacrificing their lives in the process (Similar to the girls from the web series Dahaad). These stories serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for change.

Image source: nextpraveen on pixabay

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