Tina Dabi remarriage news has exploded on social media with a but expected barrage of nastiness from the public. The 2015 IAS topper is being cheered on and congratulated online by many, but not without a persistent tone of mean-spirited sarcasm that makes allusions to her past marriage that she is left behind and now is embarking on a new journey.
Dabi, who made history by becoming the first Dalit woman to top the civil service exams, shared pictures on Tuesday from her engagement ceremony with fellow IAS officer Pradeep Gawande. Know who he is. This marks the second marriage for each of them, as per reports. Dabi was previously married to IAS officer Athar Khan. Their interfaith marriage in 2018 had drummed up a lot of national noise, which resounded once again when the couple split in 2021.
Now as Dabi sets on the path of remarriage, internet trolls are working overtime to remind her of her past 'mistake' and, with entitled told-you-so airs, are making a show of 'accepting' her back despite her brush with what they feel was a case of love jihad.
In this country, ">divorce is taboo for women. The only other phenomena even more scandalising than divorce is remarriage for a woman. Both are faraway concepts to our culture, since India has - and prides itself on having - a shockingly low divorce rate of one percent (among the lowest in the world) and therefore, amid its marriage devotion culture, simultaneously ostracises single/unmarried women.
We just can't let women be, can we? And in our game of double standards, we are oblivious to the irony that glares through. How can we be averse to the idea of a woman divorcing, remarrying, remaining single, marrying interfaith and then in her faith all at once? Just what do we want women to do?
Slut-shaming, chastising, ridiculing: What social media comments are saying about Tina Dabi remarriage
I'll tell you. It is in our traditional society's best interest if a woman marries a man within her caste and religion, at the behest of her family, and then remains with that partner for a life that demands she relinquish her independence and bend over to every compromise that comes her way, unquestioningly and permanently.
Some remarks floating on Twitter:
"To date, this heading has proved true that this love affair was nothing but love jihad. #tinadabi," one comment on Twitter read. "Welcome back Tina Dabi mam in our religion. I hope you fully enjoy your engagement," read another. One user wrote Dabi "paiso ke liye buddhe (41) se shadi kr rhi." Another user wrote, "Tina Dabi: An ideal Woke *First, took the limelight for being a D@lit. *Then married an M & raised the flag of secularism & Bh!m-M!m."
This is precisely how patriarchy has commanded a stronghold over women for centuries. By gagging their voices and pushing them to the back seat as their husbands, fathers, brothers, strange men make their decisions for them - forever infantilising and patronising them as weaker beings incapable of making sound choices.
People on the internet are chastising Dabi, as she marks her second engagement, for ever having married outside her religion. Had she married a man in her 'own' community, the question of seeming incompatibility and divorce would never have arisen. Can the argument get more blinkered than that?
First off, how do random netizens feel entitled to judge a woman for any choices she may have made, even if her interfaith marriage ended in divorce? Should this become a point to justify our bigoted criticisms of inter-religious unions? Secondly, what is the guarantee that issues wouldn't have arisen if a woman picked a partner of the same faith as hers? Are we so naive as to think that divorces happen on the sole basis of cultural contrasts?
What will it take for our society, deeply rooted in bias and misogyny, to accept and let women exercise agency over their own lives? Be it in matters of marriage or separation, aren't these very personal choices ours to make without scrutiny or unsolicited advice from unwell-wishers?
Views expressed are the author's own.