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Arranged Marriages Are A Violent Institution In Their Present State, Here’s Why!

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By Rinzu Rajan:

Before I even start writing this post, let me clarify that this isn’t aimed at the institution of arranged marriage or the people who followed that route to enter matrimony. This is a very harmless post analyzing the harmful effects of marriages fixed by our parents or elders. Much of this institution finds its roots in patriarchy, that doesn’t mean that I am trying to speak in favour of love marriages. Marriage, I believe, is a gamble which may work for some and may fail many others. Although the traditional tyranny that the woman is subjected to in an arranged marriage proposal is a silent socially violent school of thought.

wedding1

As an Indian girl, one may get many arranged marriage proposals when they cross 18 and until about 33. That is the time sphere popularly referred to as the ‘marriageable age’ which holds true for both men and women, although women face the flak and are the species of humans who have to get married within the time period called ‘marriageable age’. While many men, especially in the cities and towns (and not the Indian villages), can take their own sweet time. Although most Indian parents get their sons married, especially in urban India, before the age of 30. For the daughters, the earlier the better, since marriages in India are procreative and expect a woman to make babies, two or more in her lifetime come what may. A woman can never think of giving motherhood a miss. This scenario is aggressively ancient in the Indian villages. Women have to get married as children and consummate later after attaining puberty or as soon as they hit puberty. The luckier ones get married after finishing school or by 23. That tells you of the possessive obsession that Indians have towards the institution of marriage and the endearing efforts they make to control a woman’s sexuality and her choices.

Having taken birth in an educated Indian Christian family, my tryst with the arranged marriage business was limited until I finished graduation and was pursuing my first year of post graduation. The first proposal came from an American NRI whom I had never seen before. The proposer was my maternal uncle who lives in Florida. I out-rightly smacked the decision with dissapproval. And my parents weren’t enraged. Two years later, a relative asked for a full length picture of mine. I sensed the impending danger and refused to budge to his plan. Later, I heard that he wanted to get me hitched with his neighbour’s soon. What role had the full length picture to play in this fiasco is still a guarded secret. Meanwhile, as I was ageing, aunties and uncles in the congregation I follow started to inquire about my availability in the arranged marriage market. I never sweetened the pot with lies. I told them that a marriage to a stranger didn’t seem to be an exciting idea.

Until two years ago, most of it was a game of hide and seek. Then like most Indian parents, mine also decided to hunt for grooms for me. Since I was ‘Miss Goody two shoes’ in those days who was ignorant of the social violence in an arranged marriage system, I retorted with a yes. The first guy I met was a doctor. He was a gentleman every girl would love to take to her parents except that he was a momma’s boy. It seems the stranglehold of the bib that his mom had tied around his neck as a child, drove him. I didn’t want to buy my rights into my husband’s household by letting my parents give dowry. Also, I wanted him to share equal expenses of the wedding. He admired me for airing my views and promised me a fair wedding. After a fortnight and a long episode of silence, his parents announced to my parents that the wedding would only take place if a dowry of Rs. 20 lakhs is paid in cash and kind. By the way, dowry is practiced in our Christian congregation under the pretense of giving the bride her share of her father’s property. A father splits his property equally amongst his children with a will. How then on earth is money paid at the time of a woman’s wedding an equal share in her father’s riches?

Although at the time of marriage, this money exchanges hands between the bride’s father and father in law. Who is the owner of the wealth in this case? The bride, or the groom and his father? I ridiculed their idea of minting money from my parents by strongly opposing to the alliance. As I was heaving a sigh of relief and getting on with the business of life, another proposal came after a gap of an year. He was an engineer educated in the UK. He was their only son, who had returned from London after working there for two years. He seemed to believe in the concept of gender equality until his father spewed gluttony. The demand was initially for one of the properties that dad and mom owned until it came down to half a crore. The arguments in support for this dowry demand made me realize that India was still living in the stone age. They wanted to levy every penny of the money they had spent on their son’s foreign education. That also made me think as to whose door should I knock to recover the money that my parents spent on my education? I decided to politely show them the door. I decided to file a case against them as per the Dowry Prohibition Act but since dowry was given and taken in the name of ‘bride’s wealth’ in our society, the charges of dowry could not be slapped on them.

Another moron asked me to sing for him when we met, while another one wanted me to take a hiatus from work when I would make a baby!

I was sure that I wasn’t giving an audition for a singing competition, so I refused to sing. While for the guy who had plans to push me into motherhood, I gave him wisdom on reproductive rights, which of course is not a right but a duty in a petrified patriarchal society like India.

Only if every bride had the spine to stand against dowry, the takers of dowry would have only become extinct with time. Alas! Our prejudices never allowed us to stand up for what was right. It made us bend down to what was wrong. If we have to carefully examine the functioning of our society and the reasons for the persistence of evils like female foeticide, you may find the answers hidden in the social evil called dowry. As they say ‘the victim who decides to put up with the crime is the real culprit’ rather than the one inflicting it.

The other grooms for sale implored for lesser dowry with many wanting the expenses of a lavish wedding to be taken care of by my parents. I again decided to put my foot forward against all such ridiculous thoughtlessness, as I felt that the expenses of a marriage happening between me and anyone must be borne by both. Since it is the marriage between two individuals with neither being put at a lower pedestal. Or is bearing the expenses of the wedding by the bride’s side, a penalty for her, for having been born as a woman. Dowry is a greater fine in that case.

Another aspect of the arranged marriage that I strongly detest is the families of both the bride and the groom playing ‘Sherlock Holmes‘ on them. It is especially a mountainous task for a woman to get a nod from the groom’s family. Isn’t pitting the groom and bride against each other the best possible way to know of their future.

I was harried when such an alarmed sister of a prospective groom was caught spying on me. Instead of apologizing for trying to trespass into my personal life, she put forward a demand. She wanted me to stop blogging and give up on my principles of equality. This, she thought, would wreck havoc in her brother’s life.

A middle finger salutation was my token of respect for trying to play the future evil sister in law. I had no qualms in settling for an arranged marriage had it just been another route of meeting a guy you could have ended up with but the manner in which parents put their sons for sale or a character certificate that was sought from me, or the ridiculously disgusting demands put in front of me that were aimed at clipping my wings make me proud of my decision. To give the arranged marriage the boot.

Arranged marriages would have been a safe bet if the two people planning to marry had the freedom to make choices. Since most matrimonial profiles are created and handled by parents, there is very little communication between the people seeking a partner.

How then will two adult humans make sane choices, if they aren’t allowed to grow in their shoes?

You must be to comment.
  1. Adishi

    Terribly true. Salute your honesty. Arranged marriages in India are really nothing more than an economic bargain.

  2. RunwayMonk

    Totally relatable… arrange marraiges have now been turned into a horrific institution of punishing bride and her family by extorting any wishful amount of money for groom’s education and right to groom’s so-called-well-settled-life.

  3. azra

    Loved it.This is the other side of society where men no matter how educated they are,still give in to patriarchal norms and the saddest part is the mothers in law and sisters in law are partners in crime rather than being against the idea of dowry.

  4. fierybug

    Read this first: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-haisha/is-it-time-to-change-our-adultery_b_5242171.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046&ir=Women

    Eloquently put, this article explains the disparities between the sexes quite well.

  5. anika verma

    I get so happy when I see a woman putting her foot down against such extortion. I am with you 100% on this! This gifting business is so shoddy that people are either blind-sided or just choose to ignore the attached pressure and violence it brings along with it. Such a nicely written article! Keep going 🙂

  6. Trishla

    Loved it. We need more people like you 🙂

  7. Mihika Jindal

    It deeply saddens me to realise that the situation hits the middle literate educated class the most. ‘Yeh toh karna padta hai’ are the words spoken by most parents to their daughters in greed of the seemingly bright groom (obviously ignoring the fact that he is deamnding all that he is without any shame). Its a pity that this practice is still prevalent and not just that, it is exceedingly polluting the institution of marriage, which was once sacred and is now a demon!

  8. Synapse

    Great analysis of Stone Age customs and what we call our rich culture. Thanks for sharing

  9. adya00

    Well said

  10. sajnanazrin

    Bravo.,Ts high time to change.

  11. Vishal Asrani

    Marriage indeed needs to find a middle ground. Perhaps I love and feel blessed to have traveled and understood different cultures. Where I see extremes of ‘arranged’ and ‘love’/situational marriage with a closer proximity to failure. It is very important to first formulate your opinion and then seek for what your closest might think, regardless if you are a man or a woman. As for dowry, men should take a step and stand up against them, which I believe differentiates a modern man from one less worthy of being married to.

  12. amjed

    i don think the ARRANGED marriages are wrong ….. but they way they arrange it s wrong

  13. Synapse

    Lol Amjed,,, you know why it’s called ARRAINGED.? When u cant find one by yourself! That’s it! Good luck..

  14. Arnab Sen Gupta

    i disagree i think arranged marriaged r more succesfull than love marriage where not only 2 persons r responsible for the tie but also two families it is the best way to get married

  15. Rinky

    Loved it dear……..:) 🙂 i am deeply touched……..

  16. Manisha

    You my dear… take a bow!!!
    — from a fellow believer of equality!!!

  17. Neha Ahuja

    Totally agree with you. Arrange marriage at the end of the day is purely an arranged business deal which is initiated by the son’s parents! It’s shocking to see how parents (son’s) shift their role from being parents to being DALAALS!

  18. Shreya

    Loved it! Kudos! And keep it up, don’t give in to pressure!

  19. themanugupta

    Very well said!

  20. Roop

    Unfortunately, the stuff you’ve written about Indian marriage in general is true, more for arranged marriage Ofcourse. I’ve had an arranged marriage, but I was lucky that it did not follow this path one bit. I was just introduced to the guy by both our parents and all the decisions following that were taken by both my husband and me with no interference from others. I know of cases that have gone the conservative way and it saddens me to even think that achieving gender equality is still a difficult task at this age!

  21. Smriti Suman

    A brilliant article but the only thing I want to add Rinzu that you still had the choice to reject those marriage but there are many of us who belong to small city of India, when we refuge this kind of proposal of marriages, along with that we are forced to refuge our father’s love, mother’s care and brother’s affectionate protection. Thats the painful moment but will not lose hope comrade, be ready for the rebel, rebel against the most violent structure of patriarchy.

  22. Suma

    Don not agree entirely . There is good and bad of every system . Arranged or love, marriage is a social agreement . Even in the love marriages each partner looks what best he can get from the opposite person .In the so called love marriages in India , people tend to fall in love with person in same caste and similar economic state. It is not always girls at a loss. Some girls prefer for rich life partner rather than struggle in careers.

  23. Ravisha Kathuria

    Well it is not about arranged marriages really. It’s about a set of people regardless of caste, creed and religion who still believe, their sons can be sold and daughters are a marketable commodity to be bought from other’s household in an obsolete barter system. It is not just the case with arranged marriages. I know cases where the daughter’s parents have contributed a big deal in setting up her prospective son-in-law’s house and this my dear was a love marriage. It’s about dowry, backward thinking and a need for reform. It doesn’t really pertain to love or arranged marriages though the probability might be high in case of the latter.

  24. TARIKA NARULA

    Well written, dear writer. Arranged marriages defy all logic. While parents wouldn’t allow their daughters to even meet and hang out with the guy-friends they have known since school times, they have no qualms tying their daughter to a stranger.

  25. Abhilasha Goswami Singhal

    Well written n truly so.. However, dowry constitutes an important part of even love marriages which get approval from parents .. Plus even after marriage, expensive gifts in cash n in the form of gifts are expected at events like birth of kids or first karva chauth etc.

  26. Sakshi

    Smashing article. Excellent job. Thumbs up to your spirit!!

  27. ravi

    i was waiting for the whole violent thing you mentioned………..
    this is your personal opinion and i respect it.
    i see that giving dowry and not sharing marriage expenses the WHOLE POINT of your article. are you saying that if a guy doesn’t ask for these two would keep you happy after marriage or that in a love marriage they will not ask for the above two??

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