This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Veena Shankar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

To The Proud Acceptors Of Money In The Name Of Marriage

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IJMEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #ViolenceNoMore, a campaign by International Justice Mission and Youth Ki Awaaz to fight against daily violence faced by marginalised communities. Speak out against systemic violence by publishing a story here.

We haven’t met.

You have a face from the photographs that I have seen of you in your matrimony profile, but no identity.

Many of the boys in my friends circle and family have opted for arranged marriages, so you could have easily been with one of them.

In my head, you are already a human being, filled with what they call the three Rs—Respect for self, Respect for others, and full Responsibility for all your actions. Which is why saying ‘no’ to paying money in exchange for your body, like they do in red light areas, comes so easy to me.

There are places in India where families sell their daughters as brides to the highest bidder. Which means that the potential groom pays money to a family in exchange for her. Sometime, this makes its way to the newspapers. The bride is shown, sad and forlorn, the pang of betrayal sparkling through her tears. I understand that. She may not know a lot about love, but it surely should not begin on such unhappy footing.

But somehow, you are not saddened by the fact that your parents seek reimbursement for what they spent on you and a little bit more, in the name of finding a bride for you. No offense, but the conversation regarding this could easily be held between a chief courtesan and her customer, where she has set a price for the virgin she brought up and will not settle for anything less. ‘She has been getting better offers from across the world, but she is doing you a favour by talking to you because she thinks that you need to have a chance too’. Even here, the girl is usually offended by this, yet, you are not.

Have you seen the hoardings of Beti bachao, Beti padhao? The parents of the brides are the ones who did just that. They treated their child as a person first, they educated her. She was like the girls you have as friends, the ones who grew up to be responsible, hardworking, standing stood shoulder to shoulder with you. At the time of their wedding, however, these girls realise that the world is stuck at where it was centuries ago.

A woman still has to be decked in gold (when her idea of dressing up is nowhere close to looking like a Christmas tree), and till has to pay money to get married to a person who is just as educated as she is. Don’t be fooled by those who call it her ‘share’. What you are getting is mostly all the hard-earned money she and her family have managed to save in their lifetime. There is nothing respectful about it all. Do you see how your silence and acceptance of all this as being part of the norm is a big contributing factor to female feticide? What’s the point of being progressive in every other aspect of your life except with the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with?

I know that my friends would cut off all ties with me if I would offer them riches and ask them to be my friend for life. Why isn’t it an obscenity if it’s done in the name of marriage?

It’s really sad that your parents are selling you for money, not for one night, but for life. The fact that you hope that you will find love somewhere in this transaction is another level of ignorance all together.

I don’t hate you, because you are easily every person I know of our age. But the fact that you are OK with your parents looking for the highest bidder shows how little thought you have put into it.

I am simply trying to slip in a mirror from under this door that separates us, for you to reflect upon. But if you are more offended by the fact that I even thought of slipping in this mirror, maybe it is because you don’t like the person staring back at you from it.

Food for thought?

Featured Image source: Devendra Makkar/Flickr.
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  1. Veena Shankar

    Please don’t get misled by the title. This article was for the boys who have come to peace with the fact that their parents ask for money in their name for marriage. An email has been sent to youth ki awaaz to change the title to something more appropriate.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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