By Adeena Jamal:
I am a 20 year old student of legal studies from a liberal Muslim family. For the past few years I have been staying away from home. On my last retreat back home, the most appalling discussion arose. My parents, and more insistently my mother, propped up the entire proposal about my marriage. So it eventually got me in a retrospective viewpoint of how even in this century, where the hullabaloo of the liberal women who is ready to take her own set of decisions, my parents are worried to get me married off to a suitable man. So am I alone?
With a more myopic view, I realized I am not alone. No matter how well a girl is doing in her professional career, parents are still looking forth for a suitable match to have a family. The very instant a girl reaches the so designated “marriageable age” parents sport a frowned look , spread the word in their respective communities and start peeping into commercial marriage booths (read: matrimonial websites)
The latest demographic indicators provided by the health and family welfare ministry reveal that the national average age of marriage for girls was 20.6 years in 2008, up from 18.3 years in 2001.
The data reflects a progressive change in attitude towards the girl child over the last three years. In 2006-07, a National Family Health Survey-3 had reported that more than 50% of women in India were married off before 18. In comparison, men got married at a median age of 23.4 years. But is that all we need?
Where does the educated woman, who is professional, has a say in the career she is pursuing but is thrown into the supposed holy institution? So how logical is it when you educate a girl and then get her married off, without her career even setting on track. Why is that a man has to be professionally stable before getting married and the same doesn’t apply for a girl? The campaigns across the country are yearning for the girl child to be educated but then she is married off under the emotional turmoil of several parents. So you educate a girl to be successful housewives and not successful entrepreneurs? The reason of getting professional education is to get a good groom and then marry your daughter off.
I am not in any way saying that marriage is the end of a professional career, but what if your partner prefers you more as a housewife than as a successful lawyer? So you study engineering and then make all that studying to use it for cooking some delectable food?
There is nothing the legal implementers can do about the present scenario. The folly lies in the mindset of parents and more importantly the society. A girl is termed unhappy in life if she is unmarried till 30. The society in general does not look into professional life of a girl. They care about how well settled in her married life she is. It is a very redundant philosophy.
I am a part of the bandwagon of girls who are trying their utmost best to perform best in their professional careers without letting the emotional baggage hamper them.
One can only hope the transformation in the society takes place where they take women to be independent humans who can work for the society apart from being good homemakers.