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

The Sexist-Casteist Lie Of “Compromise Karna Padega” In Indian Matchmaking

Netflix’s popular series, Indian Matchmaking, has grabbed a lot of attention worldwide. It bagged an Emmy nomination too. While most Indians found matchmaker Sima Taparia to be annoying, sexist and saw her as someone who said rather controversial things, the rest of the world watched her with intrigue, to understand how Indians find their matches.

But, the disturbing elements pointed out by us Indians online doesn’t reflect the reality of India. Most high profile matchmakers have a lot of clients and a very good market demand. We may have made memes using Taparia’s one liners, but she and the likes of her are here to stay.

Sima Taparia became meme material owing to her one liners, revealing dated ideas about men and women, on the show. Photo credit: Sima Taparia, Instagram.

One of the easiest ways to access matchmaking for the average, middle class Indian is to head to a matrimonial site.

Why Is Divorce Not An Option?

Matrimonial sites are a big hit among the urban population of the subcontinent. Over 90% of the total marriages in India are arranged in nature. Divorce rates are quite low due to the social stigma surrounding divorce.

It is unfortunate to note that 70% of these marriages involve some kind of mental or physical abuse or domestic violence. This makes the low divorce rates quite problematic. Indians who prefer arranged marriages are generally very strict when it comes to the criteria of caste and religion.

While 5.8% of total marriages in India are inter-caste, only 2.1% are inter religious in nature. These stats reflect not only on how our society thinks and functions, but is also telling of the marketing strategies of these matrimonial sites.

Their “you want, we deliver” policy needs to be investigated further.

Matrimonial Sites Are Problematic

The first thing that we come across on most of the famous matrimonial sites are complexion and “body type”. While people fill out the details of their own physical features, they are asked to choose the same for their prospective partners as well.

“Fair bride wanted” is an obviously harmful one.

The so-called body type category involves a range of categories to choose from, such as, slim, sporty, healthy, fit etc. One has the option to even fill out their height and weight. While looking for a partner on these sites, not only do you see their horoscope, pictures and biodata, but also their body type.

A study showed that most urban Indians prefer to go through the arranged marriage setup, much like their parents and grandparents did, rather than looking for love on their own. Representational image.

Next in line comes a special section for the entitled men of our patriarchal society, where they can tick boxes like “will share chores”, “will share cooking”, “can do laundry” etc. These chores are supposedly designated jobs for the women of the household alongside the obvious “will take care of spouse’s parents”, “will share expenses” and so on.

However, when it comes to women, the boxes to be ticked become weird criteria of things like “length of hair”, “wears western clothes” and so on.  

Caste Matters

The next, worst possible thing that comes up is the unavoidable question of one’s religion, caste, sub caste etc. You have to fill up your own details in the form as well as select them for your potential partner. Of course, you can be open minded and select “all”.

However, there is no option which allows you to not fill in these details.

It is equal parts appalling and disturbing to see how some people flaunt their castes more than their work details or anything else. 

Obviously, the prejudice around horoscope matches plays a very crucial role in Indian matchmaking. One has to fill in the details of their birth. Moreover, one has to check boxes on maanglik dosh, kaal sarp yog and many such “obstacles”.

The matches the sites generate for you to choose from come from that pool, especially for those whose profiles are controlled by their parents. Typically, they want a man “with a house and car”, an “only child” and maybe an “NRI”.

When it comes to women, “fair” and “homely” brides are preferred. 

In a little experiment carried out in this regard, on a matrimonial app, if your bio reads “homely”, you tend to get more matches than if you write “opinionated”. Most of these matches come from parents who handle their child’s profile.

Dating apps might be gaining popularity among young Indians, but it is not substitute to the deeply casteist and sexist Indian matchmaking system. Representational image.

Young India Uses Dating Apps Too

It is interesting to note that in a recent survey, it was found that only 20% of India’s youth prefer matrimonial apps over dating apps, to look for a partner.

While we see protests against racism and articles related to it in the social media posts of Indian youth, somehow they don’t seem to find it odd when selecting a spouse based on their skin colour and caste.

A user, who successfully met their match through one such app that records a huge amount of traffic online, said, “I didn’t find it uncomfortable at any level. I found my match and was quite happy about it. In fact, if you see it this way, an ad in the newspaper, or someone bringing a rishta is almost the same. They ask for photos, ask for your caste and complexion too. It is no different online. If you have to find someone perfect, you have to put up with these and it is okay.”

To the contrary, one of the unhappy users said, “I found it rather uncomfortable giving details like my height, weight, build and complexion. It felt like I am advertising a product on OLX rather than trying to find a match. And then of course, there is the caste issue.”

Indian Matchmaking Is Casteist

Whatever the reason might be, even with these rather disturbing practices going on in the Indian wedding market, one inevitably finds people accepting it rather than countering it.

Does the matrimonial market simply reflect the core problems of the Indian society such as casteism and racism? Or, does it aggravate such wrong practices even further? This is the million dollar question for one to reflect upon.

While Netflix now announced a reality, dating show for Tinder users, it will be interesting to see how different or, if at all, less cringe that turns out to be.

It remains to be seen if the problematic bits about using dating apps in India comes out in a similar fashion, as was seen in Indian Matchmaking. The show had so many cringe-worthy moments and so much prejudice, we simply can’t “unsee” it anymore in the matchmaking process prevalent in our society.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
You must be to comment.

More from Suranya

Similar Posts

By Gayathri R

By YLAC

By Ritwik Trivedi

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

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.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below