We Don’t Have Role Models Who are Single: Radhika Vaz
“Being single is like being a freak in Indian society,” said comedian Radhika Vaz during a panel discussion about the future of marriage and its relevance at the Times of India Literature Festival Mumbai.
“There is a group of people who say that we don’t want marriage or that we don’t need it. And then there is a larger group that does not have this liberty,” she said.
She spoke about how Indian society places more importance on whether a woman is married rather than if she is educated. The parents of a girl that she knows had been saving money for her wedding. When she asked them if she could use the money for a masters program abroad, they told her to get a scholarship.
Vaz said that in Indian society, it is a big deal to be alone. Even educated women do not feel safe enough to openly say that they do not want to get married.
Vaz also spoke about how the lack of role models, who are single, leads to women feeling like they are less than if they are unmarried. “Lots of us feel like we aren’t normal till we get married,” she said. She spoke about her own relationship and how sometimes she wasn’t sure whether she was in it out of the fear of being alone or out of pure love. She laughingly added that her husband wasn’t in the audience, but that he is always supportive!
“It worries me that it is almost a fear psychosis of being alone, or of watching our kid being alone that drives us to be pushing this agenda.”
According to census data, the percentage of single women in India has risen 39 per cent to around 71 million, from 2001 to 2011.
Single women face discrimination in India. India’s rules regarding the rights of single vs unmarried women can be regressive. A rule which mandates that an unmarried woman can hold only 250 gm of gold vs the 500 gm a married woman has been recently thrown into the spotlight.
Marriage is seen as a form of protection for women across all income brackets. Radhika Vaz is quite right when she says that most of Indian society does not have the liberty to question it!