#Opinion

Bizarre Reasons Parents Give To Justify Early Marriage Of Women

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Indian parents are used to justifying the early marriage of their daughters. Under very bizarre situations and reasons, girls are married off at an age that was otherwise reserved for their education. According to the Indian National Family Health Survey of 2015-16, 48 per cent of the women of the age group 20-24 were married at the age of 20 years old.

What is the reason behind the early marriages of women? Why are parents getting their daughters married without letting them complete their education? Even though the government is planning to raise the minimum marital age of women, how many parents are paying heed to it? Here are few bizarre reasons that parents put forward

  1. The idea of paraya dhan

Women in our society are brought up as paraya dhan. Even today raising girls is seen as watering the neighbour’s garden. So automatically when girls learn housework, parents marry them off to their real houses. Keeping paraya dhan (a concept where women are considered someone else’s property as they leave their home) at home for a long time is genuinely not right. But the question is why should women be seen as paraya dhan and hence a burden on the family? Why shouldn’t families raise them as their own children?

  1. The idea of dowry

The Dowry system is still prevalent in our society though it was abolished years ago. Many parents marry their daughters early to get rid of the burden of paying high amounts of dowry. It is considered more important to invest in their daughters’ dowry than in her education and empowerment. But is this a fair deal? Shouldn’t parents save money for daughters’ education so that she knows her rights and stands against the dowry system? Women’s education and empowerment are often enough to resist patriarchal oppression in society. But are parents listening?

  1. The ‘marriage market’ needs young brides

Another major reason why parents marry their daughters at an early age is the marriage market’s obsession with young brides. It is assumed that if the daughter grows old i.e. beyond 25, she will not be able to fetch a good groom in the marriage market. But why is it okay for men to marry at an older age? Why are women supposed to be young and beautiful while they marry? When are we going to get rid of our obsession with young age?

4. Early marriage means pregnancy on time

Many families want their daughters to marry early so that they don’t reach menopause and can conceive a child well in time. But dear parents, is pregnancy necessary after marriage? What if a woman doesn’t want to be a mother? Then why should early marriage be enforced on them? And even if a woman wants to be a mother there are several options that medical science has provided to conceive a child despite complications. Moreover, women can always adopt a child and embrace motherhood. Then is it right to force women to put an end to or pause their education and empowerment for marriage and motherhood?

  1. Educated brides are not preferred in the marriage market

If you have looked at some of the matrimonial ads, you can see how the marriage market wants a woman who is good at housework, raising children and is sanskari. Education and employment are rarely present as a requirement for a good bride. It is assumed that education “destroys” the mindsets of women and makes them outspoken and unsanskari. Moreover, education and employment are seen as a male domain and so it is inappropriate for women to be more educated than men. And so parents expect women to wrap up their education and marry early.

But dear parents, it is high time you understand that education and employment are the powerful tools using which women can resist any sort of injustice in their lives. More than marriage, women need the companionship of degrees and salary to live happily.

Views expressed are author’s own