Monday, 29 July 2013

The Dark Side of Arranged Marriages

India has come to the point that, when families place advertisements to find suitors for their sons and daughters, they set out a list of criteria that would make you think they were picking out an appliance or a new car.

You will usually find an educational demand — must have at least a master's degree. A financial requirement — "six-figure salary preferred" and, of course, the ever-insulting skin-tone requirement. Most families want a girl with a "wheatish" complexion for their sons, which is a clumsy way of saying "dark-skinned girls need not apply."

This is just something you will see in any newspaper. I understand it is a tradition and traditions are important. And I can already hear some readers shouting "It's not that big a deal." Family pride is one thing, but trading your children like objects is quite another.

However, so often we come across people who are married purely by merit of caste, community, religion, family connections, etc., without getting to know the partner, simply because the families insisted on it and have lived to regret it. Families still put pressure on their kids to marry. Washing their hands off their daughters once they are married and turning their faces away when she cries for help, is like selling your daughter to slavery and sex. So this is a note to all parents out there who believe their kids must marry the partner of their choice: That if they expect the trust and respect to be given to them by their children, then they must live up to that trust and respect post the marriage too. Your kids helped keep your respect, help them retain theirs too.

Who you will marry is one of the most important decisions you will make. Some questions that crop up include: What sort of a girl/guy do I marry? Will they adjust with my family? How can I decide just by meeting her/him a few times? When should I marry? What if I make the wrong choice? Many men go for beauty when looking for a suitable bride. Sure, looks are important, but that should not be the most important criterion. Later on in life, it is her maturity and behavior that will make all the difference. Important thing in arranged marriages is just be yourself.

Those days are long gone when youngsters getting married hardly knew anything about each other. Now you can ask just about anything and no one is supposed to take offence. Today, a lot of young people may already have had a previous relationship. Though having had a relationship is neither uncommon nor something to be ashamed of. There is nothing wrong with it, if it is a thing of the past. What is more important is to be faithful to each other after marriage. An example of weird questions a girl has to face. Read it in some confession round. Worth reading and contemplating! Where is our generation heading?

“Are you pure?” asked the guy who came to see Bani for marriage. “Pure????” She couldn’t get his question. “Pure as in untouched?” he clarified. She now understood what he wanted to ask. “What are you looking for? A girl to marry or ghee?” she replied agitated by such a question. He was shocked at such a reply, but before he could say anything. Bani continued, “Well you can say if there was an exam about ‘purity’ I wouldn’t top it!” His family left. Next day he rang up her dad and told him that he cannot marry Bani as she is a girl with low morals. Bang on! Welcome to the progressive India where we claim to be modern people but still make virginity a base to check a girl’s morals or her capability to become a good wife.

Today when we claim that women have an equal status in the society with that of men, we still are under the orthodox views of using a white bed sheet on the first night of marriage just to check the bride’s virginity! The guy may himself have slept with number of girls but he wants a “pure”, “untouched” girl as a wife. Why? Answer- just to satisfy his male ego that the girl he is going to spend his life with has been and will be only his “possession”. If today a girl loses her virginity with a guy she loves truly but the guy turns out to be a cheat then she is tagged as a “slut”, “characterless girl”. Mind you these being the most decent words I can pen down, else there are a million more worse words in our mother tongue vocabulary. I ask what is the mistake of the girl? She loved a guy? She slept with someone she thought she would marry? Or, she now has lost her purity which would satisfy her to-be husband’s male ego and make him believe that she is fit to be his wife! And again no answers I could get!

I completely support the fact that we Indians should not give up on our morals and accept everything that westernization gives us but I wonder how can a biological wall in a girl’s body by breaking decide the level of her morals? Bani could have been a great wife, she was marrying the guy her parents chose, maybe she had a bad past. But all that was seen was that she wasn’t pure! Now I am forced to wonder that what would happen to those rape victims? Who would marry those girls? Moreover a girl from a sports background has always been told by the orthodox distant relatives to quit it, why? Simply because playing may result in the breakage of the so-called “moral wall”! “Urggghhh. Disgusting that is!”, that’s what I have always thought after hearing that!

Yes, I am also a girl, an Indian girl, who values her morals, for whom her “izzat” is priceless, who has always dreamt of her “raajkumar” coming on a white horse to marry her, and who has always planned her wedding dress! But I am also a girl who belongs to the globalised world, interacts with the opposite sex, loves, has break ups, overcomes them and smiles again and no one has a right to tag me anything for that reason! I just request you that next time you go looking for a girl for marriage, search for a true heart and not something like “pure ghee”, because she is going be your life partner and not your meal to satisfy your hunger of ego. People even ask, 'Are you from a co-ed college?' Heights that is!

When you look at a beautiful girl coming dressed in a red lehanga leaving her world behind, to become a part of your world, accept her, make her life a bed of roses rather than testing her loyalty by making her lay down on a bed with white bed sheet because true love will make your marriage successful, her “purity” won’t!" Also, a ruptured hymen is not an indication of having had sex. Women can lose it while horse riding, doing gymnastics, etc. Therefore, virginity should not be a question on a girls’ morality. And definitely no girl owes any guy or his family an answer to stupid baseless questions. Heaven’s sake, it’s the twenty first century!


  1. Nicely written. This the actually the situation. But frankly, it's not the girls alone who face all this. Men also have problems when marriages are imposed on them

    1. Thank you, Stefi. Yes men too face such problems, but my focus here was that people pose virginity as a question on a girls morality.

  2. According to you everyone should marry a guy/girl of his/her choice, it doesn't matter what their choices are?
    So what if a guy choose to marry a virgin?? [is not he free to make his choice, irrespective of anything and everything]

    But I agree, he should not judge the girl or insult her, just walk off saying "you are not my kind of girl !!" And girls can also have similar choices if they wish to...But my question to you, here, would be why girls are not able to make such choices or demands? or in other words most of girls don't even have a demand...

    So instead of blaming a guy it would be better to teach a girl to demand, fight for what she likes, teach her to say NO, make her believe she can get a guy of her choice and she would not be satisfied with a forced-arranged marriage

    P.S.: I do advocate for Arranged Marriages but I don't oppose a love marriage if its not un-natural (meaning a highly qualified MBA girls ready to marry her father's driver )

    1. guru: I didn't mean that, nor am I projecting that aspect via my post. I just expressed that when you come to see a girl that's not how you question her. These days, no matter how bad the guy is, he wants a 'pure' girl. This seems the latest trend. which is utterly wrong.

      and yes about girls too having such demands, I have mentioned "no girl owes any guy or his family an answer to stupid baseless questions." Also, I suggest girls be like Bani, outright. If not demanding, then atleast she should stand up for herself. I appreciate your thoughts too. :)
      I don't advocate any kind of marriage either!

  3. It's strange that out of all points against arranged marriage, you choose to highlight the 'purity' part more than anything else. What about dowry, what about control/domination, what about bridegroom's side asking the girl to 'forget' her parents after marriage, what about lack of a system to evaluate who is right for whom and using salary/status/beauty as the only evaluation factors?

    Tell me one thing - How can you be confident that a guy/girl who's been in multiple relationships prior to marriage, will not get into the same habit/addiction after a short while?

    1. Destination Infinity: My major issue was 'Virginity- question on a girl's morality'
      and the ones you mentioned are valid to, anytime. just that nowadays, they take a backstage at times.
      Apart from dowry, rest points are applicable after marriage. And using salary/status/beauty as the only evaluation factors is what I have mentioned at the start. the rest of the points come into picture after marriage.
      yes you have a valid point. one can never be sure. 'trust' plays an important role then :)

  4. @Aayesha....
    Thanks for your reply :)
    I would like to add one more point ...

    I have seen time and again journalists, feminists, humanists, bloggers writing and blaming the guy who rejects the girl for her "impurity" but none blaming the guy who left the girl "impure" at the first place. Don't you think we should empower the girl to make informed decisions and teach a lesson to the guy who leaves her "impure" at the first place??

    1. You're welcome Guru :)
      Absolutely! We need to do that! Girls should stop being sati savitri and take everything silently. It's time for them to be strong and fight back! And most importantly, not give themselves up to the wrong guys out there!

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