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The Strange Quick-Fix For Being Considered An Adult – Get Married!

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By Archeeta Pujari:

Congratulations! You’ve just turned 18! You’re an adult now! An exciting journey of exploration and responsibility lies ahead of you…You can now legally participate in the democratic process of your country, you can drive on the road if you want to, you can get married and start a family, you can be charged and tried as an adult if you commit a crime.

marriage

But never mind all that! Those things don’t concern you now! You’re off to college, in another city! Your first venture into the big, wide world! Think of all things you’ll learn and all the new friends you’ll make! You can hardly wait!

You get to college and it’s as eye-opening as you expected…but not necessarily in the ways that you hoped. You live in the girls’ hostel, with the other female students, and curfew is at 8 pm; if you need access to the college library or computer labs after this time…well…too bad. They are still open, but only for the benefit of male students. You can only leave the campus with a letter from your parent, or the ‘local guardian’ stipulated by your parent. A bit like the notes you needed if you had to leave school early when you were little. If you choose to stay out past the allotted 8pm curfew, you are told ominously by the authorities “if anything happens, don’t come running to us for help”. Parent’s notes and curfews? But you’re an adult! You’ve gone out before! You trust yourself to judge situations and make sensible decisions! It’s for your own safety, they say. If we cannot ensure your absolute safety, you’re parents wouldn’t have allowed you to come here and study!

Since the city is unsafe, and there’s no changing that, the only way to guarantee your safety is to ensure you never go out! Your autonomy is a small price to pay in exchange for an excellent education, surely? Well, your parents are still supporting you financially at this point, so I suppose it’s only fair that you live by the college rules. But what about the boys you ask? Why do they get to live their lives as young adults rather than boarding school students? Well, intone the sages again- boys and girls are different, are they not! Very well, very well.

Congratulations! You’ve finished college with flying colours! And what a talented young woman you’ve become. Dancing, photography, so many diverse hobbies! And what’s more, you’ve landed that dream job with a well-known company. But before you start, the company needs to conduct a thorough background check, to ensure your criminal record is clean and all the claims you have made on your CV are true. As an adult, you are responsible for your own actions, and serious charges can be taken against you if it is found you have been fraudulent. Many weeks pass, and all your peers have been cleared to start work. The outcome of your background check still hasn’t arrived. Worried, you call up the agency to which the task has been outsourced. They say a problem has arisen, you have forgotten to provide your husband’s details, without them, the background checks cannot proceed. But you have no husband! You’re a fresh graduate, embarking on your career for the first time.

Well, they cry, you must provide your father’s details instead – his name, occupation, employment, education and address history, everything about him! But why? Why should your father’s privacy unnecessarily be invaded? Why should his background affect your future employment? What about your mother, does her background not matter in this weird system of parental transitivity? There is no reason, they retort, it’s just the rule, everyone must follow the rule.

The background check ultimately comes through, much to the inconvenience of your parents, their neighbours and colleagues. You begin working in this city far away from home. You live as a paying guest with 16 other girls in a private hostel, not that different from the college hostel you thought you left behind. The landlord is helpful but intolerant. Once again, there is a curfew, albeit a ‘generous’ 11pm one. If you are stuck late at work, it takes much pleading and grovelling before he unceremoniously lets you in. And there are absolutely no male visitors, at any time, in anticipation of the inevitable ‘hanky-panky’ that is bound to occur in such a situation. But you are a young working adult in a big city! What if you want to go have a drink with some friends at a bar? What if you do, in fact, wish to consentingly engage in the said ‘hanky-panky’? You are legally old enough to both drink late and night and have sex if you choose to, and equally, face the consequences, if they arise. Who are all these people to impose upon your freedom? Nevertheless, the hostel is comfortable and convenient and cheap. Is it really worth antagonising the landlord? You stay on.

One day, you sign up for a salsa class. You enjoyed dancing as a girl, and it sounds like a bit of harmless fun, some light exercise and laughter with friends. It’s time for your first class, you dress in loose, comfortable clothes and two of your male friends come to meet you at the hostel so you can travel together. You stand near the street to catch an auto. A policeman walks up to you and confronts your friends for ‘travelling with a woman of clearly suspicious character’. Shocked, you try to argue that you live right here, in a good neighbourhood, in a respectable girl’s hostel. The policeman is infuriated by your impunity; he goes to the landlord of the hostel and threatens to close the hostel down as the rooms are clearly being rented to ‘unsavoury characters’ (unless, of course, a generous ‘payment’ is made, in which case, all can be forgotten). That night, when you come home, you find that the landlord has found your parent’s number in your emergency contacts records and phoned the poor bewildered souls to tell them of your transgression, much like a teacher apprehending a naughty child. And your crime? Maybe salsa dancing with boys isn’t a decent pass-time for a respectable girl…you should avoid engaging in activities that threaten your tenancy and cause your parents more stress.

A few years pass, many of your friends get married and move away. You are settled in your job and earn a comfortable salary. Congratulations! You’ve got that promotion you were looking for! You can finally afford to rent your own flat, get away from this bizarre, supervised life among stranger’s you’ve lived with so far. But when you approach letting agents to look for properties, they sneer in your face! A single woman looking for an apartment? Clearly a person of questionable character! No landlord would rent a flat to you! And sure enough, you are turned down again and again and again. Why aren’t you married? Why are you not living with your parents? It doesn’t matter, you implore, look at my employment verification letter, look at my tenancy records from past landlords! To no avail. In the end, you return to that same hostel that you despise, with its 11 o’ clock curfew and no visitors rule.

Congratulations! Today is your wedding day! You are married now. You’ve packed your bags and left your job to move to the city your husband lives in. Suddenly, all the problems you have faced till now have dissipated – together with your husband, you can go out when you please, rent a flat, take that dance class you wanted to! You have finally been given the society’s permission to lead your life as a married woman! You have safety, security, almost a warranty stamp in the form of your husband. Anything goes wrong; he can take responsibility for you. You are now, finally, a legitimate member of society.

It’s paradoxical, this culture we live in. On one hand, we burden our children with the obligations of adults: child labour, forced marriage, trafficking, infanticide, paedophilia and abuse, on the other hand, we forcefully infantilise adult women, making their every action, their very identity, accountable to their parents or their husband.

It must be a hypocritical society when the best choice it can afford to its women is between child marriage, or existing forever as an unmarried child.

Note: This is a fictional compilation of true experiences of various people

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  1. Voice of reason

    @ Archeeta – Honestly an extremely poor, ridiculous and absurd article. Come on, YKA should start having an evaluation process before they publish articles. Please note I am not saying that you have quoted wrong incidents or imaginary happenings, all of this happens and we all have experienced them, but if you look closely, there is a real necessity for the same. To enlighten you let me break it down point by point as raised by you –

    1) Hostel timings and local guardian’s note for girls – Are you actually of the opinion that there should be no timings in hostels, well that might work out in an Utopian society where every soul is pure, but lets face it, we don’t dwell in utopia. When you take admission in an institute, you become its face ( in which circle you have), lets say something would happen to you, don’t you think it will malign the image of the institute, it will right , now who will take admission in such institutes. Please understand they dont care about your life, its their reputation as a safe heaven for out station students that they care about, and I dont see anything wrong in that. Now you might have been an ideal daughter, girl etc, what about those who are really looking for trouble and do not care about pretty much anything. they would not care about their actions and if they ever slip their parents will be quick to blame the institute, and i am sure you will agree to this. It is because of the same reasons that a local guardian certificate is also required. Also btw even boys hostels have rules….

    2) Background Verification – Answer me a simple question, how does the company know that you are not a terrorist with false certificates who has come to wreck havoc here without proper verification. How do they trust you, who do you think you are. The problem with you is that you do not understand the realities of this world and hence such an immature article. While you may come out clean, but have you ever inquired with the HR , did they ever find a fraud, may be they have. Also your family background is important, for the same afore mentioned reason. SO you see how your article is baseless

    3)Rented accommodations and PGs – the same reasons as in case of hostel. Please apply your intelligence and think, will you take up a PG knowing that there have been a number of accidents in the past with the same. As for guys coming to PGs, think about it, may be you want to rest and your room mate comes home drunk and get along 5 boys with her, i am sure you will not like the situation, and even if you do, most wont, again baseless point

    4) Rooms not being rent out to Singles – First of all even boys face this issue so there is no gender bias here. Again i would like to appeal to your intelligence and request you to think, lets say you are married and settled , have a good job, some kids etc, your next door neighbor is a boy/ girl , working / non working, and all they do at night is party which disturbs you, will you like it. I am not saying that party is all that the youth does today, i am trying to draw your attention to a larger issue you are missing. Will you like to have bachelors in your neighborhood who as such dont disturb you but they are visibly drunk on most weekends, will you like your kids seeing them all the time, your highness that is the reason why mostly singles are not allowed in family apartments.

    5) Salsa classes – well you have really made it stupid here, first of all i think in all salsa, gym , jumba classes they have an option for you to change, why wear loose clothes then. Secondly what did you try to prove by bringing male friends into the scene, on one hand you talk about PG being a jail and on the other you can go to your Salsa classes alone?. The problem is not paradoxical society, the problem is hypocrites like you. If an bad incident happens you would say what was the police doing, if they are vigilant then they are being harassing, what wrong with you people.

    The main problem is that people want to like in a dream land, where there are no crimes, no criminals and life’s a fairy tale, but please wake up and fact the facts

    1. Rahul Mehra

      Superb you have given a most logical reply but unfortunately nowadays people want to see the world the way the like

    2. Archeeta Pujari

      You’ve got the wrong end of the stick. I’m not saying girls should wander around naked in the middle of the night. I’m saying that adult women, married or unmarried, are capable of making their own choices about when it is or isn’t safe, to go out, without the need for curfews and guardians.

      I went to a college with no hostel timings or rules at all, in a not very safe area. I’m still alive. I had enough sense not to take stupid risks.

      In the incident with the background check, the agency demanded the details of the husband a number of times before reluctantly settling for father’s details. If they had any intention of checking family history, they would have asked for parent’s details first.

      As for salsa, the person in question travelled to salsa class alone or with a mixed group of friends a few times before this incident. Funnily enough, she was only harassed when travelling with boys.

      Thanks for reading, thanks for your comment.

    3. Babar

      In schools and colleges all over the world, boys are punished severely for breaking rules and poor behaviour, sent to stand outside class, made to stand with their arms raised, slapped, made to become a murgha, suspended, reprimanded severely, and a host of other forms of punishment, while girls get away with a verbal warning. Teachers are a lot stricter with male students the world over, while feminists make it look like women are being victimized. Men never raise issues over the unfair treatment, but women are good at making a mountain out of a molehill.

    4. Voice of reason

      Dear Archeeta, agreed that an adult ( men or women) should be able to make their own decisions on their safety, but tell me something honestly, if a hostel were not have rules and if something untoward were to happen , will the parents not blame the authorities , will they agree to the fact that the fault lies with the student and not the authorities, and more importantly will the institute not loose its value. Why should an institute suffer for your freedom, dont like the rules, go somewhere else, my place my rules.

      If you are married, then in most cases they will ask for your husbands details, also more importantly even if they ask you the details of your neighbors, what is the issue, what are you afraid of, for social security and domestic security it is necessary to check backgrounds. If a bomb blast happens then the authorities are useless, if they ask for back ground check then they harass, reeks of hypocrisy.

      As for Salsa incident, you cannot really take an one-of incident and blame the society, you yourself agree that the person had visited earlier as well without any issues. As i mentioned if a rape happens , where was the police, if they are too vigilant then they harass.

      See Archeeta, i am not attacking you personally but this line of thought is disturbing, first of all lets please not bring gender into all this, just too ridiculous. Secondly please understand the bigger point i am trying to make, for a safe and secured society we all need to make sacrifices at some point, sacrifice in terms of privacy, in terms of freedom and in terms of personal choices, of course I am not in any way suggesting that we live like China or North Korea, but yes people complain mindlessly and that is where the problem lies. You need to understand that the world is not how you want it to be and hence we need to be practical

    5. Divyansh

      Sorry… Replied in a wrong thread

    6. Divyansh

      No option to delete a reply on YKA… Queer! :->

    7. Tara

      Apparently I am living in some Utopian country- because in my country there is no curfew in hostels- students are considered to be adult, mature and responsible people (men and WOMEN equally), so whatever they decide to do outside the hostel (go for drinking party, date, dance classes), they and only they will take the consequences if anything will happen- I never heard about any case, that parents of the student sued the university or college, because something happened to their kid while studying there (unless some mad professor killed the student :p )- I am a lawyer so I am up to date with such regulations and events. Second thing- background check- of course it is very important for every company to check the potential candidate, whom they are going to hire. But checking the background of father (btw- why only father? Why it is not important to check background of mother? Maybe father is recognized Manager in some big corporation, but mother committed some crime? Inequality, which is totally illogical)- such checking is totally irrelevant- first of all it is violating the legal regulations about privacy and protected data in my country, second of all- why should it matter, who is my mother and father- from the employer’s perspective of view only my data are important- my criminal record, my education and experience, because I will be working for this particular employer, not my mother or father. When it comes to activities and dressing of women- I will say only one thing- you should start taking care about more urgent problems in your country (corruption, female infanticide, poverty, discrimination, terrorism, list is quite long) rather than the length of woman’s dress- plus only uncouth, uncivilized, uneducated man judges woman and her character and morality on the base of her appearance and clothes. I am right now 27 years old, I was studying at one of the best universities in Europe, during that time I was enjoying my student time- I had many hobbies, I was going out for parties, to the cinema, opera, for sport, dance, and also accompanied by males- nothing bad happened to me ever, neither to hundreds of my friends (girls). Did I lose my reputation, because I was renting single apartment or going out with male friends? No, it didn’t happen. This is very good and important article. It’s the high time for India to give up this patriarchal system, which is the system of inequality and oppression, it’s time for starting thinking out of the box, it’s time for mental and social changes- only when society will change, than also stupid rule and regulations will change. You want to ensure safety for women? Educate your men, teach them that women are equal, human beings who deserve the same respect as men, and deserve for the same freedom- freedom of choice and living the life they want.

    8. Shruti

      Couldn’t have said it better myself, Tara!

    9. Divyansh

      Bro, u’re immature… I tell you… Whether somebody parties or not, it’s THEIR AND THEIR problem only… As far as neighbourhood distubance goes, let them solve between themselves… -_-

  2. Rahul Mehra

    Superb you have given a most logical reply but unfortunately nowadays people want to see the world the way they like

  3. Arvind Ramachandran

    Honestly, an extremely well written, relevant and much needed article. Kudos!

    As a youngster who grew up in an Indian city, I have personally seen, and been around friends who have experienced all the prejudices and downright inexplicable rules mentioned in the article. In a society where image of the institution is privileged over actual safety of its members, family background is more important than the individual’s character, only one gender is almost always blamed for the mistakes of the other, youth are not considered actual members of society who have a say in the way we live together, and something as harmless as sharing a ride is seen as a crime, bringing these instances of everyday sexism to the attention of those who might accept them because they are so ingrained in our society becomes all the more important. Thank you!

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