It’s High Time We Stop Traditions That Belittle A Woman And Her Family

Posted by Priyanka Kandoi in Sexism And Patriarchy, Society
February 20, 2017

Indian society is as hypocritical as it can be – all under the guise of social niceties, culture and tradition. And this really needs to stop!

Weddings (Read Dowry)

Well, weddings in India are deeply and thoroughly hypocritical. The so-called new generation – the ones who consider themselves suave, polished and evolved – still indulge in archaic social systems like dowry. The bride’s father has to bear the whole expenditure, and he is even responsible for giving gifts in cash and in kind to the entirety of the groom’s immediate and extended family.

How is this fair at all? Had my father put away all of that money for me in a fixed deposit, I wouldn’t have to worry about finances for at least half of my life!

Childbirth

I do not want kids for a lot of reasons. However, the one major reason, which I don’t talk about much, is that I cannot bear the thought of my parents making the same mistakes that they did during my wedding. For those of you who are unaware, certain communities follow some lame tradition where the girl’s parents are robbed of more cash and gold if they become the maternal grandparents of a baby boy – and slightly lesser cash and gold if it’s a baby girl!

Maintenance Charges

Okay, so the girl’s parents have to be forever indebted to her husband (their son-in-law) for marrying their daughter and giving her a ‘comfortable’ life. But to ensure that he and his parents continue doing that, the girl’s parents give ‘maintenance charge’ every now and then (Holi, Diwali, Makar Sankranti, Karwa Chauth) and when the girl visits her parents’ house. This ‘maintenance charge’ can be anything – cash, kind or both.

How many of you cringe at the boxes of mithai (sweets) and seasonal fruits that your parents send, which is then distributed to the boy’s relatives, neighbours and ultimately given to the household help? They’ll crib about “itna saaman kyu bheja, yeh sab koi nahi khaata hai, yeh saara system bandh ho jana chahiye (why did you send so much stuff. No one eats all of this. These systems should stop existing)” – but no one will ever take a step to stop this nonsense.

Can’t you buy your own mithai for your own relatives? Ridiculous! And how can I forget? They wont even call and say ‘thank you’, because they consider it their right and privilege. I have never been able to understand this smug sense of superiority in the ladka walas (the males).

The ‘Bahu’ Being An Outsider

You have to take his parents as your own, live with them and ‘adjust’ to their lifestyle. On the other hand, the guy won’t even call/visit your family for days and months on end, and yet, it’s perfectly fine. And you’re going to be blamed for everything. You are suddenly responsible for this ‘man-child’, and anything and everything that you do will be under strict scrutiny. His family is going to scorn you – whether you want some ‘quality time’ with your husband, or you want him to take a holiday with your family, or you want him to pay for your expenses, or you want a say in the money that he makes.

You will come after everyone else – because if he makes the mistake of putting you first, then he will be labelled ‘joru ka ghulam (slave of one’s wife)’ – and of course, how can his masculinity deal with such an insult! He takes pride in not paying heed to the nagging wife, not visiting her parents’ house more than once a year and calling her ‘high maintenance’ when she wants the things she’s always been used to.

Of course, things are changing these days. I am lucky to have a husband who speaks up for me when life seems unfair, and wonderful in-laws who adjust well to these winds of change.

But all the men out there who don’t think it is important to speak up for your wife – please get rid of your age-old mentality and become modern in the true sense of the term! She married you, and if you were eager enough to take all the cash, jewellery and gifts, please also be eager enough to take care of her emotional, physical and financial needs, and defend her when life is hard for her.

Be a man, love her and don’t be afraid or embarrassed of showing it! What you should actually be embarrassed about is accepting subtle dowry or not being a good husband.

Try living for a year at your wife’s house, with her family, according to their lifestyle and their rules and regulations. Maybe then you will understand how it feels. But you don’t have to – because in this society, taking away a girl from her parents is tradition, whereas taking away a boy from his family is cruelty.

It’s high time we spoke about these issues and did something to make them stop!

Youth Ki Awaaz is an open platform where anybody can publish. This post does not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions.