In India, most people refer to divorce as "die-vorce". This manages to give the word a morose, bleak sense following which a person's life is over. The "die" is emphasized and the rest of the word is dissolved in the kind of sigh that is usually reserved for funerals. A common postulate used by the conservatives to justify this dreary verdict, is the post-thirty, declining fertility. According to these praja pundits, the biological clock is just a rusting time-bomb. Men of course, they claim, are less affected by the misadventure of die-vorce.
Well, its is time for these dictums to change. The 21st century is here and so is the new image of the Indian woman. Of course, a divorce is in no way representative of modernism but the single Indian woman, by herself and yet happy, is now becoming an acceptable persona in society. This means divorce will now be less of a tragedy. People will hopefully not burst into tears upon hearing that your marriage didn't last and if they do, well, hand them a tissue and walk away, your head held high.
Women have careers, aspirations and access now. Education and technology is at their fingertips and the middle-class is more worried about their daughter's degree than about getting her married off. They are realizing the importance of financial independence. While the cosmopolitan desi woman is changing fast, the rural areas still await the rising. Nonetheless, one hopes that it will soon reach the areas where it is most needed.
With an education and an ambition to match that of her man, women are less likely to settle down for a marriage of convenience where provision is the sole benefit. Parents are less inclined to have their daughters married off without much thought. The Bharatiya nari now seeks a soulmate.
This will probably be the most difficult period for Indian society. Whenever major cultural transitions occur, society as a whole, experiences growing pains. There are always a few who are threatened by this sudden and unsettling atmosphere of increased competetion and shared control. Some societies or communities simply do not like the prospect of a woman playing a man's role. They find it unnatural and worthy of contempt.
Let us take the example of divorce rates and their correlation with women's liberation. Divorce is a social occurence which has for long played an ambiguous role in Indian societal issues. Studies in developed nations with high divorce rates show that children from broken homes experience a wide variety of emotional problems. Traditionally, in Indian society, a woman's role has been to hold the marriage together with the binding glue of sacrifices, submission and tolerance. This makes deeply cultural civilzations contemptuous of divorce. However, social studies have ignored the unrest in society caused by a marriage patched together for monetary reasons alone or due to a lack of options. Domestic violence, monetary losses, property cases, child custody battles all swarm the overburdened family courts in India. Caught amidst most unhappy marriage are the guileless faces of children who don't show the manifestations of having gone through this experience until much later in life.
There was a time when a slap here and some verbal abuse there was considered a common thing among some cultures. In fact even today while the 498A and Dowry Act are available for the protection of a woman in need, the implementation is severely challenged. The police who are the first in line to respond to such complaints fail to maintain a professional disposition and quite casually inform the abused woman that "miya-biwi an-ban" (husband-wife squabble) is a common occurence and they shouldn't make a police case out of it. So while the women are taking on new roles, civil mentality has a long way to go.
True education demands not just qualifications or credentials but also cultured thinking. As this change comes over society, one always finds men and women alike fighting the growth. Developed nations have all had to go through this teething problem whenever the conservatives grew vary of metamorphosis. Resistance has been encountered plenty of times in the history of civilizations. Widow re-marriage, educating the girl, legalization of abortion were all faced with vehement counteraction by certain elements of Indian society who were reluctant, to say the least, in moving forward.
What is different today though is the range of options available. Women if they are brave enough to make the choice, can have the financial ability to walk out of a disrespectful relationship that threatens their safety. They have the right to equal opportunities, careers, education and most importantly the right ambiance. We are amidst an evolutionary stage. Both, the legal watch and society look down upon dowry and undue pressure to produce a child. Organizations are available for aid and occupation. There is a whole world and an entire lifetime worth forsaking an abusive relationship over. Educated women in the cosmopolitan cities with acess to all the opportunities and means have very few credible excuses for staying in a marriage that puts them or their children at risk. But the choice has to be one's own; the priorities, the courage and the initiative has to be taken by the woman herself.
Being your own woman requires that one not be bothered by the wide-eyed gasps of "Die-vorced" or "Still single?" or "No children...yet?" It is crucial that the sound of your own liberated and strong voice drown the cacophonic trill of your biological clock. Children are wonderful and bring immense joy but only when there is an environment which ensures such a blissful scenario. Bringing a child into the world in the hopes of salvaging a bad marriage is the worst thing one could do to quench their own reproductive anxieties.
Never finding a Mr.Right should probably be less scary when compared with having to spend one's life with Mr.Terribly Wrong. There was a time when a woman my age would've been expected to be married and with child. Today, the decision is my own. The empowerment, mind you, was my own as well. With power come responsibilities and these independent choices come with a price.
All one needs to do is flip the first two letters of the word "empowerment" to find its true meaning. Empowerment is only "me-powerment" in disguise.
- » Published on November 08, 2007
- » Type: Opinion
- » Filed under:
Author: Aditi Nadkarni
- Subscribe to RSS 2.0 feeds for:
- » Comments on this article
- » Culture
- » Culture: Desi
- » Culture: Family
- » Culture: Education
- » Culture: Crime
- » Culture: City Life
- » Culture: Children
- » Culture: Men
- » Culture: Relationships
- » Culture: Religion
- » Culture: Social Issues
- » Culture: Sex
- » Culture: Society
- » Culture: Women
- » Politics: Freedom
- » Desicritics.org articles by Aditi Nadkarni
- » All Opinion articles
- » All Desicritics.org articles