A survey done by University of Maryland and the National Council of Applied Economic Research in 2004-2005 and 2011-2012 claimed that only 4.99% of Indian women are equipped with the power to choose their own partners. Shocking, isn’t it? But true.
The Indian Human Development Survey (IHDS) report surveyed over 34,000 urban and rural women, between the ages of 15 and 81, in 34 Indian states and union territories, reported HT. The survey concluded that partners of about 73% women are chosen by their family members and relatives.
A few women talked to SheThePeople.TV about this scenario. Charvi Kathuria, a pass-out of Delhi University, said, “In a country where women do not have the choice to wear clothes of their choice, how can we expect them to have a say in the choice of their life partners? Arranged marriage is the popular norm since eons. The kind of patriarchal society we live in, I think it’s very difficult for this norm to change.”
While it is true that norms take a whole lot of social change to transform, but having zero to little involvement in the most important decision of a woman’s life is bizarre to begin with. Things are a bit different between urban and rural women as the urban class engages in openness and liberal behaviour. However, the women in rural areas have to suffer more as most of them have no control on their lives.
Ritu Makhija from Nashik is of the opinion that parents are far more open today than before. “The percentage is still a little hard to believe because as a young woman from this generation, I don’t think today’s parents limit us from dating or choosing the right partner for us. I may be wrong or this stat could be based on facts from the rural society but a majority of women today are convinced about what they really want from marriage.
She added, “If not, then those parents should let their daughter feel free. After all, it’s the independence that empowers us.”
What Ritu gets right is that the change is happening and can be seen. Nikita Bajaj from Mumbai agreed with Ritu, “I’m surprised at the numbers, but I guess it is only because I come from a privileged family. I forget that I’m probably part of that 5 per cent.
She added, “I believe this a reality check for us. At the expense of making a generalised statement, a majority of the families even in the cities come from a middle class background, which often foster traditional and orthodox rituals. For such families, any girl who has completed her graduation should get married, and this works as a rule for many.”
This makes it clear that the divide between urban and rural is still huge in the mindset. But even urban has a similar subdivision, which is more of a problem.
Picture credit- lookism