Rituals Over Rights: Can We Shift Our Focus To What's Good For Women?

In India, not just the rural but the urban population too has women kept in the carapace of their houses. They still need a male member’s approval to exercise their fundamental rights.

Ratan Priya
Jul 09, 2021 09:35 IST
parents upset their daughters, Rituals over rights, pressure to marry
Rituals Over Rights: Our society's need to always blindly follow the rituals often comes in the way of women exercising our rights. If that is not the case then why do we put a man's education over a woman's? Why do we think of weddings as the ultimate goal of a woman's life and not her career? Why are women still being forced to marry whoever their families approve of?

If we think about it, before women's suffrage came into force people simply accepted that we only need the male population to choose a leader who would run a democracy. The custom that had been going on for such a long time was finally abolished after women took to the streets and demanded their rights.

We know that the place where women of the world are at this point in time is because of the continuous battles fought by the women who lived before them. They rejected the patriarchal customs and the laws that stemmed out of them in order to exercise the rights which men had been enjoying for a long time.

In this day and age, we are eligible to vote, we have the right to education, the right to earn a living and yet so many women around the world are still kept far away from exercising these. Why? In India, not just the rural but the urban population too has women kept in the carapace of their houses. They still need a male member’s approval to exercise their fundamental rights. Why?


Rituals Over Rights: Dowry Vs Higher Education

Many women in urban and rural parts of India are either married off in between their school/college education or are never allowed to start it in the first place. According to a report by Economic and Political Weekly, the female literacy rate in India stands at 64.6% while male literacy is at 80.9%. The report also states that over 80% of women are not able to complete their degrees and they drop out.

The recent case of dowry harassment in Kerala came as a shock to many people. Some thought the woman’s murder to be an extreme case while many expressed disbelieve that the system of dowry is still thriving. Well, of course, it is.


Parents would rather save up for their daughter’s dowry than pay for her higher education. Many parents who do not follow the regressive custom of showering the groom and his family with expensive commodities still want to put up a lavish wedding ceremony for their daughter. Sadly, they show little enthusiasm when their daughter talks about pursuing masters from an expensive college!

Son’s education Vs Daughter’s education

The aforementioned data proves that a man’s education is still preferred over a woman’s education in our society. Families dealing with financial issues think it wise to make the men of the family pursue education as it will result in income. The same is not expected of women.


It doesn’t stop here. As the dowry system evaluates a man’s worth too, an educated man can demand more dowry. The male members of the families are expected to be the sole breadwinners whether they want to or not.

Men who think of their wives as their equal and believe in running the household together are shamed for not being manly enough. Do you see the problem here? The fact that a husband and a wife cannot peacefully decide for themselves on fundamental subjects even though they have all the right to is deeply concerning.

Are we to blindly follow rituals ignoring if it doesn't fit in our present?


Seems like people feel compelled to go into debt because they want to have a 'dreamy' wedding ceremony. It is a choice that many people around the world make. Between heterosexual couples, marriage means different things to the man and the woman. For the woman, it is considered the most important milestone of her life.

No matter how much that woman has achieved in her life, her parents will probably shed tears of joy at her wedding. They would probably send a text message congratulating her for her dream job, but they will spend their life savings to celebrate her marriage. Why is one still more important than the other?

A woman's marriage is also considered a matter of prestige for her family members and her community. In 2021, we are still seeing women being taken away by their family members from their husband’s houses because they simply did not approve of the marriage.

The hyperbole around ‘Love Jihad’ is just one of the many ways to keep women in control. It is to keep them from making their own choices. It is to preserve the so-called “honour” of the communities. The custom of only marrying in the community is stopping women and men to exercise their right to choose. Their right to life.

If you ever question an elder member of your family about the logic behind a certain ritual, they would probably have no answers for you. They were also made to follow them blindly. As individuals, we must try to not fall into the loop and unlearn.

#sikh woman conversion row #Dowry Harassment case