#Opinion

Backlash To Alia Bhatt Proves How Premarital Sex Still Raises Eyebrows In India

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Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor announced that they are expecting their first child on June 27 via an Instagram post. Bhatt posted a picture of herself with her husband from a hospital. They seemed to be excited as they looked at their baby on the screen during sonography. Since then celebs like Priyanka Chopra Jonas to Anushka Sharma, have congratulated the couple on this new beginning. The star couple had tied the knot in April this year in the presence of their family members and close friends.

While most people – their near and dear ones and fans are ecstatic at the news, there are some who are surprised at the sudden announcement of Bhatt’s pregnancy. Even though the news of her pregnancy came right from the couple and there were no speculations whatsoever about the same, it was still hard for some fans to believe. The reactions ranged from “That was quick”, “abhi abhi toh shaadi hui hai” to “this is publicity gimmick”, and “this is Brahmastra promotion” amongst others.

In midst of all the celebration on the Internet, Bhatt is also being trolled for getting pregnant so early into her marriage. Many have gone as far as to speculate that she was already pregnant at the time of her April wedding. When did Bhatt conceive her child is none of our business, but the conversations floating around show how it’s still a taboo in our society for a woman to have a sexual relationship before marriage and the resulting pregnancy.

Agreed, in our society, usually, pregnancy follows nuptials, but in recent times, there seems to be a turn in the tide as people appear to have made a shift to pregnancy before their marriage. Leading this trend are stars. Remember Sridevi, Sarika, Konkana Sen Sharma, Neha Dhupia and Dia Mirza? These are but some names that come to mind immediately.

It takes two to make a baby

It takes a man and a woman to make a baby, so why is a woman targeted singularly? I wonder if Ranbir Kapoor is also being judged at all.

If one can recall, Dia Mirza had to answer probing questions about her pregnancy from social media users after she shared pics of her baby bump. A user had enquired about why she didn’t make the pregnancy announcement before the wedding. To this she replied, “Interesting question. Firstly, we didn’t marry because we were having a baby together. We were already marrying as we wanted to spend our lives together. We discovered we were going to have a baby while we were planning our wedding. So this marriage is not the result of pregnancy. We didn’t announce the pregnancy until we knew its safe (medical reasons). This is the happiest news of my life. I’ve waited for many many years for this to happen. No way I would hide it for any reason other than medical.”

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Dia Mirza shared the news of her pregnancy on social media last year.

My query again remains – was Vaibhav Rekhi, her husband, asked such intrusive questions? I guess not.

Well, because it’s the woman who must exert control over her sex life, because it’s she who upholds the family’s honour. She is answerable for her every action which seems to be a threat to the fabric of our society.

Do we need anymore proof that we live in a misogynist society seeing the reactions to Alia Bhatt’s pregnancy?

Women have the right to decide on pregnancy

The Supreme Court of our country declared in February 2011 that it’s woman’s “choice” to either have a baby, or abort or prevent pregnancy. It is her right. Supreme Court judge A K Sikri said this while speaking on the state of affairs relating to women’s reproductive rights and the dominant role played by the menfolk and the family in imposing their decisions.

“Reproductive right, which of course is a human right, is based on the human dignity. When we talk of reproductive rights, it is mixed with another right of women, that is the sexual right. When we talk of reproductive rights in India, there again the choice is of the husband in the family or what the elders say…when there should be a child, whether that child should be male or female etc.,” he went on to say.

Why legally the rights of women over their wombs are clearly spelled out, does society hold the same views?

Alia Bhatt backlash: It’s a personal choice

Getting pregnant before marriage is a personal choice, why is it so hard for people to accept this? It’s between two adults who are mature enough to take a decision for sexual relationship and then take the responsibility to bear a child or not if circumstances arise. So, why is everyone jumping in to add their views?

From the social media post of Bhatt it was clear that she and her husband were excited to become parents. When two adults are ready for parenthood, whether they are married or not, it’s their decision, nobody else’s business. And come to think of it, they must have thought out the pros and cons of having a baby under any circumstances. So why is their pregnancy being scrutinised?

Marriage and pregnancy are two different issues

A hasty marriage isn’t necessarily the only way to provide a future to a child. Having said that I want to again emphasise that marriage and pregnancy are two different issues. Couples should not get married because the woman in question has conceived, just as two people should not continue in an unhappy marriage because of kids.

Two people should marry only if they love and care for each other because that is what will sustain the marriage. In Bhatt and Kapoor’s case this seems to be the reason. The couple have been in a relationship for five years now and knew each other well and must have planned well before hand the consequences of an intimate relationship.

Views expressed are the author’s own.