#Opinion

Nitish Kumar’s Comment On Dowry, Marriage, Homosexuality: Why It Is Problematic?

Nitish Kumar on same-sex marriages, Women-centric reforms, Nitish Kumar women voters
Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made a shocking statement about same-sex marriages. Speaking at the launch of a girls’ hostel in Patna, the CM said, “If a man marries another man, will there be childbirth?” This statement followed a strong call for ending the dowry system and child marriage in Bihar.

Kumar rightly said that taking dowry in marriage is one of the worst systems of society. But he missed the bull’s eye by saying, “You will only have kids if u marry, all of us here, we were born to mothers. Will anyone be born if a man marries another man? So you will marry and then have kids, and you ask for a dowry. There is nothing more wrong than this.” Is marriage only for having kids? And how long are our leaders going to disappoint us with their homophobic comments?

The Dowry system is a prevalent practice in Bihar. According to a report, Bihar stood in second place in the number of dowry deaths happening in India. So it cannot be denied that Kumar’s call for ending the dowry system is a need of the hour. If a minister puts in the effort to end a social evil, the impact is certainly huge. His campaign to end the sale and consumption of alcohol in Bihar for the sake of women’s safety has undoubtedly brought significant changes. So Kumar’s plans to end the dowry system certainly deserve appreciation and create a lot of hope for people like me in Bihar.

Nitish Kumar on same-sex marriages

However, Kumar’s steps to revolutionalise Bihar might not reach their aim because of his internalised patriarchal thoughts. As it is rightly said that change begins with ourselves, Kumar too needs to reframe his mindset before reframing the society. His comment that dowry is wrong because the woman from whom a man takes dowry is the only source of childbirth clearly reduces a woman into a birth-giving machine. Because a woman is required to increase the progeny of a family, she should not be measured in cash and gold or subjected to dowry harassment. But dear minister, doesn’t a woman deserve the right to be valued because she is an individual? Is it important to measure the value of women in terms of their reproductive functions? Would demanding dowry from a woman who cannot produce children be right?

The toxicity of Kumar’s comments was intensified by his homophobia. He freely established that it is against nature and societal rules for a man to marry another man. And the reason that he gives is that they can’t produce children. Kumar said this in a country that is already notorious for its homophobic behaviours and laws. However, things changed a bit when the court normalised consensual same-sex by annulling Article 377 in 2018.

But why should marriage be legal only if leads to childbirth? Can’t two people marry each other on the basis of their love and companionship? And doesn’t the minister know that a gay couple can have kids through many other means? Or does he believe that heterosexuality is the only natural and right way to produce children? Being a politician, was it right for Kumar to further stigmatise homosexuality? If leaders don’t understand homosexuality, how will others do?

So dear minister, thank you for leading a campaign to end one of the worst social evils- the dowry system. But while doing this, please don’t let other social evils like homophobia, forced motherhood or objectification of women breed in my state.

Views expressed are the author’s own.

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