#Feminist Mondays | I Do And The Aftermath

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In my previous post, I spoke about how women who drink are judged and scrutinized by the society. Today, I want to raise another important question and attempt to answer it in my own way. As of today, in India, there are 945 females to every 1000 males. And trust me, this is a better statistic when compared to what it was earlier. We all know the answer to this imbalance, don't we? Female foeticide. Years ago, I wrote a post about this very topic and it hurt me so much to write that. A few days ago, I happened to chance upon that post again and I thought what could be the primary reason for people, men and women alike not wanting to give birth to the girl child. As a new month began and a certain loan amount was cut from my bank account, I got my answer.

It has been close to five years since I got married, but the loan that I took for my wedding is still on. My parents are still paying off debts that they had incurred at the time of my wedding. Yes, five years ago. Weddings in India are a pretty huge and extravagant affair and the expectation is that the expense should be borne by the girl's side only. Maybe, that's why parents don't think twice before going ahead and aborting a girl child. Why should one take care of a child, pay for her education and other expenses and then spend all their life's earnings on her wedding, just to send her off to another house.

This concept of having a girl's family spend for a wedding when it clearly involves two families is hideous. I have seen and heard of atrocious cases where the girls' side have been humiliated to no end with regards to a wedding, to the boy's side calling off a wedding when some aspect of the wedding party was not up to the mark. Closely, I know a girl whose wedding was called off because her family did not carry good enough gifts while they were going to meet the guy's side to discuss the plan for the wedding. One day she was totally in love with her fiance, the next day, her hopes lay shattered in front of her.

My husband and I wanted a simple wedding. We were madly in love and just wanted a simple occasion to celebrate our union. But since he's the first son, my in-laws insisted on having a really big wedding. Big or small, I was clear on one thing from the start. The wedding expenses would not be borne by my parents alone. It has to be a 50-50 partnership, just like a marriage. My in-laws had no qualms about it as they found it right too. While a marriage is only between two people, a wedding is between two families and it is only fitting that both the families pay for it equally. So it might shock you when I say this, my in-laws too are still paying off the debt taken for our wedding. Of-course we could have saved everyone the trouble by having a small wedding, but since more than one party was involved in the big celebration, the burden becomes a little lighter on one's shoulders. Many people tried to dissuade my in-laws by calling them repeatedly and asking them not to spend anything on the wedding and demand more from the girl's side, but they stay put. I wonder how happy those marriages are where the girl's side spends everything on the wedding and all that the guy has to do is show up. Do they even last, thanks to very first step being this flawed?

The other cause for female foeticide, according to me is the assumption that only a son can take care of his parents. The male child, the strong shoulders for parents to lean on during their old age. What about daughters? Beti parayadhan and all that nonsense. Once I got married, I was asked if I would still continue to support my parents. My reaction was to laugh out loud. Just because I am some one's wife now, doesn't mean that I stop being a daughter. I would continue to support my parents financially and emotionally as long as I'm around, there is no doubt about that. I was also asked how much money I give my parents every month, I responded saying it was none of their business. What I do for my parents is only between me and them. Even my husband would not have a say in it. My husband is very supportive and understands the responsibilities I have. I do this not because I'm trying to be a son to my parents, I do this because I'm their child and it is my duty to do this.

I have heard of cases where a daughter is not allowed to care for her parents and support them. "Beti ke ghar ka paani peena bhi paap hai", they say. Loosely translated to, "It is a sin to even drink water from the daughter's house". Unfortunately in India, there are so many in-laws who expect their son's wife to give up on her parents from the very day of the wedding. It is soon forgotten that it is the very same parents who put in all their life's savings into their daughter's wedding. It is the duty of a girl's family, they say. Who defined this? Who defines what roles a woman would accept in society? Who defines that a daughter should give up on the parents the minute she's married? Who says that only a son can take care of his parents? I've seen daughters do this equally well, if not better.

Maybe if these two associations with a female child is removed, there would be no female foeticide. But I don't see this happening anytime soon. My female friends, who are born and brought up in the city, educated well and work in top MNCs, still considered it a curse to have a female child. One of them actually told me that it is such a pain to have a daughter and that she has to take care of her wedding expenses, her pregnancy and her grandchildren later. The 10 day old newborn, lay unaware of this talk in her crib. It pains to know that this innocent child is considered such a burden by her parents already.

The expectation that it is the responsibility of the girl's side to spend for the wedding, give in dowry if demanded, take care of the pregnancy of their daughter and be unpaid baby sitters to their daughter's child, should be trashed. Every woman should stand together to fight this. Every man should come forward to oppose this. He's finding a life partner after all, he should contribute to the celebration as well. Daughters should take care of her parents the way she wants to. No one has the right to tell her what she should do or not do for her parents. If a son is considered as the strong shoulder for the parents, a daughter is the backbone for her parents. Married, away or not, she can do what she wants to do for her parents. Anyone trying to take this right away from her deserves to be punished.

For a society, trying to strike a balance between the male and the female, these practises should be the first ones to be abolished. Maybe then, parents would not consider a daughter as a burden. Equality begins at home yes, it also should exist in one's thoughts. As a society, we need to come together for this. Is it too much to ask?


This post is a part of the powerful series #FeministMondays on Naba's blog and you can be a part of it too. On the second Monday of every month, write an impactful post with the hashtag #FeministMondays and link it back to Naba's blog.

16 comments:

  1. So true Soumya. I heard a similar grandmother speak about a day old infant girl in the crib about the costs of her wedding. So sad. For me, I have two sons and I yearn for a girl child. My sons are just teenagers, but I am sure I will only go for a simple wedding and there will be no dowry.

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    1. Isn't it so sad? When will we as a society start accepting women as equals?

      We need more mothers like you, Lata.

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  2. I've never understood how a girl can be seen as a burden, least of all by the parents who brought her into the world. When I was expecting, both V and I longed for a girl. We actually picked out her name very easily ,pretty much the day I found out I was pregnant. The boy's name-- let's just say he would still be nameless, 11 years later. We never agreed on one!

    I am proud of women like you- the ones who stand strong and fearless in the face of opposition, who cares two hoots for the world and its ways. Your parents are your first people. Always. I honestly feel that about my own. As parents of two girls, my dad had to put up with a lot of nonsense. Fortunately, he is the kind who doesn't care for anyone's opinion. So it made life easier for us.

    This was a powerful post. But then, all your posts usually are :)

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    1. I've never thought of being a mother, but whenever I get the though I secretly wish for a daughter. Always.

      So proud of your father, Shy! He did raise the wonderful woman that I know today :)

      Thanks, Shy. You're way too kind.

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  3. All that you pointed out is true abs all goes on in society. Sad as it is, years of tradition and conditioning takes a long time to go away. I am hopeful that eventually these regressive rituals will go. We all can make a beginning in our homes and that is the only way to chip away at these ridiculous customs and expectations.

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    1. I wonder if this tradition will ever change! We need to start making a change at our homes first, within our own minds.

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  4. A loan of 5 years for wedding is indeed too much. I remember reading news about a baby child found in dumpster and it emotionally drained me. And to think that a women, a mother could do this. I even hate it when wives complain on how much their parents have to spend in gold for the first baby. Well, why don't you be brave and take a stand instead of complaining. They say mothers are strong, I don't know why they become a weakling when it comes to social norms. Thankfully it's a lot better in my place...and like yours, my in laws are extremely understanding.
    Loved your writing.

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    1. I know. But it had to be done back then :(

      If these two expectations are slaughtered, I think we would start accepting the girl child more.

      Thank you, Raj!

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  5. I totally agree with your points here. My husband and I planned on a simple wedding too, but since he is the youngest his parents suggested a grand one. Even though we were madly in love we had no doubt about sharing the cost. Truly educated wouldn't talk about a girl child being a burden. There is a saying that is common in thamizh, "parents are guaranteed to get the support of their daughter in the most troubled times." My husband and I are so happy about our little one. Truly girl children are Angels! We are two daughters and my parents have taken some unconventional life decisions for both of us. Sister is in martial arts and you know how and what people think! Many don't even consider it as a job and they say what passion and nonsense you are doing with your daughter. How will you find a groom for her! My love marriage did go through trials too. So I hear you! A family's growth depends on how the women in the family are treated! A simple wedding would be the first thing to stop female foeticide and that's true. And the loan thing, that's one point I miss my job, but I am lucky in some ways when it comes to the husband. I handle the things at home and that gives him the peace to work!!

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    1. You are truly blessed, Jayanthy. When ever I decide to become a mother, I would wish for a girl too. They are way too precious.

      Wow, your parents are so amazing. That's the kind of people the world needs more.

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  6. This is so very sad. But I am glad that you are writing about it. We need more voices like yours!

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    1. I hope more people do speak up now.

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  7. Isn't it sad, that even after all the progress we have done as a society, we lag so far behind in the basic concepts on life? Why the differentiation between boys and girls, I fail to understand. As if the boys all turn out to be like Lord Ram! And, frankly, I too don't have many hopes from people who follow such regressive values. If education couldn't help them gain any enlightenment, I wonder what will!

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    1. It is really sad, Shilpa. Education is not the issue, the mindset and upbringing is what matters.

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  8. Sad that even after all these years there are so many things which are wrong in the society leading to these stats. I only wanted a girl when I was pregnant. Truth be told, I would have been disappointed if I had a boy because I'm tired of all this skewed expectations from girls. I want to dote on my girl and give the best as much as I can because there are many in society who would only do it for a boy.

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    1. I so understand! If ever I am to have a child, I want a girl too. Hopefully others will some day understand that its doesn't matter if it is a boy or a girl.

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Care to leave a word or two? Thanks for dropping by :)