Who is K Sudhakar And Why Doesn’t He Want Indian Women To Stay Single

k sudhakar, k sudhakar comments on women
K Sudhakar comments on women: It is easy to blame “modern” women for not wanting to marry or have kids, but no one talks about how we fail to create a society where these acts do not become a burden on them or hamper their careers.

When K Sudhakar, the Health Minister for Karnataka, got on the stage in front of hundreds of students, mental health professionals and intellectual minds present at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences and chose to diss modern women, while speaking on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, it was not surprising.

Unfortunately, Sudhakar represents thousands of such minds in India who feel that western influence is ‘making’ women choose not to marry or give birth to children.

It is as if women are too naive to understand what is good for them and can be influenced easily. Whatever happened to our free will? And where is social accountability, which often forces women to make these hard choices, by making it hard for them to balance work and life post marriage or motherhood?

For a large part of history, men got to control women in public spaces and private decisions, purely on the reason that they are the ‘breadwinners’. Women’s bodies were seen as a reproductive well and by default, the property of men they are associated with/ are under the ‘guardianship of’.

Earlier, the social norms around her were simple and strict- birth, learn household chores, get married, childbirth, please the husband and in-laws, stay in a toxic relationship till death,

Then women stepped out, to work. Families learned the importance of education. With education came knowledge and sense of identity. Women realised that life wasn’t to be defined by gender, but choice. A woman could go out to work or be a homemaker, she could be a single parent or opt for surrogacy, she could wait till her 40s to get married, or as long as it to for her to find the right partner. She had a choice.

But with these choices, also came the baggage of social resistance. Will I be ‘allowed to work after marriage? If I take maternity leave, will someone else take up my position? If I tell the company I am joining about my upcoming marriage will they deny hiring me?

There are many questions that an urban woman has to ask before making certain decisions like marriage, children, etc. To be mocking that and calling it a bad influence is just an example of how regressive thinking works.

“Today, I am sorry to say that a lot of modern women want to remain single. Even if they get married, they don’t want to give birth. They want surrogacy. So, there is a paradigm shift in thinking,” said the Karnataka Health Minister.

What he failed to ask is- why are Indian women not thinking of marriage?

According to the 2011 census reports, there has been a 39 percent increase in the number of single women in India. The records are of the years between 2001 and 2011.

Many women in their 20s are familiar with the question, “When are you going to settle down?” which is asked by people in social gatherings, meetings, informal talks etc. Here “settle down” is the code word for marriage.

Most women find these questions irritating. The 20s is an age to explore and understand self, how to answer settling down questions when you, yourself, are unsettled?

The definition of marriage: According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the state of being united as spouses in a consensual and contractual relationship recognised by law. Where is the mention of marriage being necessary?

The state health minister also spoke about women choosing surrogacy over childbirth as a problem. On January 27 2019, Ekta Kapoor ‘chose’ to welcome a baby boy via surrogacy. She wrote on social media about her feeling of gratefulness towards the newborn baby. She also said that not everything in life goes according to the way one wants it to but there are solutions to those hiccups.

Many single unmarried women agree with Kapoor’s decision on getting a baby through surrogacy and they too are opting for it. A woman might have a busy work life or does not want to marry, but still want a child. Where is the problem?

People like K Sudhakar are wrong in telling women that they are under “bad” influence if they choose single life or surrogacy because it is not about preserving a way of life, it is about reclaiming your right to choose. If Sudhakar and company want women to choose pregnancy and marriage, then they need to create a society where household duties are divided equally, where women don’t have to choose either childcare or work and where women know that their families have their backs on all days and not just on Women’s Day or Mother’s Day.

Image Credit: The New Indian Express

Views expressed are the author’s own.

Suggested Reading:

Why Can’t Society Let Women Walk Away From Dysfunctional Marriages In Peace?

Why Is Misogyny Not Considered As “Real Issue” By Politicians?

The Wedding Ritual Of Baraat: Why Should Grooms “Take Away” The Bride After Marriage?

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