Nibhana Padega – How often have we heard that term! India has the lowest divorce rate in the world. 2019 report revealed that only 1% of married couples in India get divorced. A good news? A reflection of the country where couples love each other and live happily together ever after? Hold on your opinions because if India has the lowest divorce rate, domestic violence tops the crime rate in the country. Then, isn’t the low rate of divorce a subject of worry? Does it not reflect the lack of women’s agency and the prevalent stigma around divorce? Why are married women forced to sustain a marriage that doesn’t value her self-respect and identity? Nibhana Padega: why must Indian women live through bad marriages?
Nibhana Padega But Why?
Marriage for women in India is not always about falling love with someone who respects her, loves her and treats her as equal. It is about finding a protector who shields her from the predatory society that never values women. It is about seeking financial security in the society that is not comfortable with single independent women. Hence, marriage is considered to be the coveted trophy of a woman’s life.
But does that mean all marriages are equally shiny, happy and empowering? Should women be forced to marry and adjust just because it provides safety and security? Why can’t they be safe and empowered on their own? Is marriage about fulfilling needs and consolidating power relations or about mutual love and care?
Is marriage always the safest option for women?
Even if we have low divorce rates it does not prove that all marriages are good and safe for women. In 2018 NCRB report found out that the housewives recorded the second largest number of deaths by suicide. Most of these women faced domestic violence and dowry harassment that forced them to live in threat without dignity and basic necessities. Moreover, in 2019 NCRB recorded around one lakh domestic violence complaints from women. The cases of dowry harassment have also been rising and all this even though dowry and domestic violence have been criminalised.
Does marriage become a licence to flout all the laws and outrage the dignity and legal rights of women? If a marriage deprives a woman of her happiness, dignity and right to live freely, then why is she forced to sustain it no matter what? Does women’s happiness have no value?
For women walking out of a bad marriage means signing in for another bad relationship with the society as it legitimises its worst form of misogyny and moral policing by shaming single and estranged women. Why are women forced to choose between a bad marriage and social shaming of a divorced woman?
Why can’t divorce be a happy and right solution to a bad marriage?
Nibhana Nhi Padega: Women Have A Choice In Marriage And Divorce
Stop assuming that all marriages are good and, being the weaker gender, it is the woman’s responsibility to sustain it. Because marriage has no space for power relations. Stop normalising violence and harassment as a part of marriage and forcing women to be the silent and adjusting partner. Whether married or not, a woman has the right to raise voice if her basic rights are outraged. She has the right to choose the person she wants to marry and legally divorce him if she is not happy.
It is not the older times when wives used to be the war prize or slave of the king of the winning kingdom. Today marriage means love and equality and if either of it is missing, divorce is the right option.
Marital Status Doesn’t Define Women Empowerment
Rather than enforcing the idea that marriage is the safest space for women, normalise divorce and singlehood as a choice that a woman makes for herself. It should not be a stigma that gives society a reason to blame and shame women. Make society a safe space for every woman to live and thrive. A woman’s freedom and empowerment should not depend on her marital status. If men have the right to earn and live their life freely within or without marriage, so do women.
Views expressed are the author’s own.