Wedding.con Is An Eye Opener To The Curse Of How Marriage In India Is Unrelentingly Glorified…

Don't pressurize girls to get married, as that will save them from being preyed upon by a criminal and abuser who will take them for granted.

Wedding.con, a 5-episode docuseries on Amazon Prime Video opens our eyes to the rampant scamming and fraud that happens on popular matrimonial sites. I got goosebumps as the episodes progressed. It’s appalling to know of the amounts these conmen could swindle, and the techniques they employ to exploit prospective brides.

These men generally pose as potential grooms, contact the girls using a fake profile and gradually win their trust. Within a span of a couple of months or so, the fraudsters extract lakhs of rupees from the ladies and vanish. And mind you, the women we are talking about are educated and financially independent, belonging to protective families.

Then how did they err so bad and end up getting exploited, that’s obviously what we all might think. The series presents 5 true incidents, real interviews and victim accounts. And we get to know how they were duped in the name of marriage, some were promised a life abroad and instructed to pay for visa, some others were cajoled into paying off certain debts…

Wedding.con is a riveting watch, but I’m not reviewing the series here. What struck me the most, was, even in this age and time, the arranged marriage arena is as brutal and competitive as ever. Of the 5 cases highlighted in the series, 3 were single and 2 were divorcees and single mothers. Here are the aspects that perhaps made them easy prey to the scam.

The unrelenting pressure of marriage

We are well into the 21st century, and we pride ourselves in being a tolerant and equal society. But young girls, educated and emancipated, are still bulldozed into arranged marriage. As the single lady from Telangana says, “Me, my mother and my sister lead a happy and independent life. But marriage, marriage, marriage. That’s all my mother and the society had to say.”

Ditto with the other two girls. One of them confesses that she was totally done with this profile searching on Internet. She had contacted almost 100 of them, and either there were no replies, or there were rejections after hours of chatting and profile matching. But the nagging never ends, so the moment there appears that one man whose wavelength matches, and who complies with their preferences, the girls agree to the proposal. Mainly out of exasperation, to finally silence the pesky relatives, many a times, parents.

Dowry has just gone underground, but is alive and well

Honestly, I was aghast when I heard of one of the accounts on Wedding.con, wherein a young lady admits that dowry is very commonplace in her community. If the groom turns out to be an NRI, the dowry doubles. Though the proposal arrives online, once matters begin materializing, the boy’s side starts calculating dowry. A man duped her by refusing dowry and even had his fake parents talk to her, claiming they were only looking for a good girl, not money.

The focus is all on the woman’s appearance, never mind her achievements and intelligence

How much ever we discuss inner beauty and intelligence, the marriage market starts and ends with appearance.

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In the series, a lady faced rejection numerous times due to a mole on her nose. Despite advice from friends and family to surgically remove it, she chose to wait for the right man who would accept her, mole and all. Another lady’s eyes brim up as she admits that she has faced many rejections online, because though she’s modern and emancipated, for marriage, they judge her by looks alone.

And this outdated thought perhaps made them fall into the trap laid by fraudsters, who called them beautiful.

Vulnerability forced on these by society by unfair social expectations

For the two older women who were married previously, they were taken advantage of their vulnerability. Both of them had been through bad marriages in the past, and the perpetrators posed as caring men who respected them for who they were.

“All my life,” mentions one of the women, “I have been forced to prove myself. As a good daughter, a good wife, a good mother…My previous husband treated me wrong, but somehow I was made to believe it was my fault, in not adjusting enough. So when this man seemed to love me unconditionally, I fell for him.”

The perpetrators often go scot free or with minimal punishment

A police personnel dealing with such fraud cases shares, unfortunately, that these cases do not involve severe punishment. 3 months imprisonment at the most, and it’s a bailable offence. So the fraudsters come out, change their identities and go about committing the same crime again. Alas…

Wedding.con interviews psychologists and lawyers who tell us, that these scamsters do their homework well. They contact many women simultaneously and gradually strike conversation. They understand who is the most gullible of all, and then lay their trap. Catering to the girl’s needs and likings, pretending to love them to eternity, they begin to politely ask for money.

One lawyer correctly states, “There is no point of judging the victims, as to how naïve they have been. These women have been asking that to themselves, have wept for hours, and then approached the police. It’s our duty to help them.”

Marriage, as another social worker says, is a glorified institution. Why don’t the parents and society let these women be? Why do we throw our daughters into a web of lies and judgments, where they often end up getting their hearts and confidence broken at the hands of conceited men.

There’s one statement in Wedding.con that hits hard, “If you do not pressurize girls to get married, you are actually denying a criminal the chance to commit online fraud of this magnitude.”

If only more of us understood…

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