Saturday, June 4, 2005

Stamped Impressions
A couple of problems

Reeta Sharma recounts cases of girls trapped in mismatched marriages

WOMEN getting a raw deal is not confined to NRI marriages, even though the latter might be more in the limelight. There are numerous instances of unsuspecting girls pushed into marrying incompatible grooms by their parents, who get disillusioned by the treatment meted out to them. A few sample cases will bear this out.

Amita, a tall girl with sharp features, was a Masters in geography and an MEd. A typical middle class girl, she had left it to her parents to choose her life partner. Her parents, on their part, had verified the credentials of numerous prospective grooms and after three years of concerted effort, zeroed in on an officer in the Merchant Navy. They celebrated Amita’s wedding, for which they had saved, enthusiastically. Within a month, Amita discovered that her husband was having an affair with his aunt. For an year, Amita tried to salvage her marriage and end the affair. But it was in vain. She is back with her parents.

Nikita’s case is even more pathetic. An MBA, she was employed in the corporate sector. Chosen by her parents, her groom was from an established business family. The ostentatious marriage was performed in a seven-star hotel and her parents sponsored their honeymoon in Austria. From cloud nine she soon came to terra firma. Two months after her marriage, her husband escorted her to a late-night party where the best of wines flowed. Nikita saw every one put their car keys on the table and the men were asked to pick up a car key. It dawned on her that wife swapping was on. When Nikita refused to play the game, her husband slapped her in front of every body. While she rushed out in a taxi, her husband returned home in the wee hours of the morning. Her in-laws accused her of defaming their son. Nikita is in the process of initiating divorce proceedings, which will take a minimum of two years. Meanwhile, at the workplace, says Nikita, "a separated single women is so vulnerable that any body can take liberties with her".

Another instance that showcases how mismatched a marriage can be is Amrita’s case, being handled by an NGO. Her husband, a gay, was in a steady relationship with another man for more than a decade. Ironically, the boy’s family was aware of the relationship and tried to dissuade him from continuing it. Even when they failed, they went ahead with his marriage plans. The family was apprehensive that his sisters would not be able to find a match if the fact of his being gay was leaked out. They did not mind making a sacrificial goat of Amrita.

Similarly, a very talented Yavnika was married off to a handsome and well employed only son of a school principal. Yavanika’s family was an established one. She was a popular artist with a good job. In this case, the husband turned out to be a hetrosexual. His mother was aware of her son’s gay relationships. After the birth of her first child, Yavnika hoped for her husband’s return to the family fold. Even after two children, he continued with his relationships and poisoned the children’s mind against their mother. After having lost 20 years of her life, Yavnika is living separately and bringing up her children singlehandedly.

These are cases of arranged marriages but deception occurs even in love marriages. What are the choices that women can make, especially in these times of flux?

To begin with, parents have to change the mindset that forces them to push daughters into hasty marriages, without giving them the chance to meet the prospective groom.

It is time that girls are allowed a say in choosing their partners. Even in the case of arranged marriages, the girl and the boy should be allowed to interact and get acquainted with each other. Unless the couple has known each other for at least two years, the marriage should be put on the backburner. Discovering each other should be a condition or rather a precaution to safeguard the marriage.