A life lost in vain

News in general, seems quite sad, but some days, it is absolutely heart breaking. To read about Savita Halappanavar’s death just because doctors in Ireland refused to perform an abortion on a foetus which had already miscarried was just heart breaking.

The sad fact that the woman’s right to life was totally ignored in the belief that the foetus had a right to life. Never mind that she had already miscarried and that the baby had no chance of survival. Makes one wonder about the laws that totally ignore the mother and the conditions that surround the request for an abortion. Makes one wonder how anybody can consider such laws fair. Especially, since Irish women have been campaigning for years to get rid of the archaic laws that control their reproductive freedom. I remember a case of a young girl, who had been pregnant as a result of rape, and had been prevented from travelling to the United Kingdom for an abortion. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that it had been a while ago. I remember wondering how cruel can the laws be that they were ready to force that girl(a young teenager, if I remember correctly) to go through a pregnancy, which she had been forced into. Today, its so much worse. A young woman had to die – for no reason at all. Can anything justify her death? A woman, who was neither Irish nor Catholic, became a victim of the laws of the religion and the country.

Just another proof, I suppose, of how religion and it’s interpretations can lead, to lives being taken, unnecessarily. All the more proof that personal choice needs to be above religious guidelines or dictats. It never fails to amaze me that pro-choice and abortions are still election issues and debated issues in countries like the US. Why is it such a difficult thing to let the people involved decide whether they want to terminate the pregnancy or not. Health issues or not, why should religion or laws decide whether someone should or not terminate a pregnancy.

All I can say, I guess, that hopefully her death would not in vain. Hopefully, an incident like this would shake up the Irish govt and people in other countries as well, who, in their pro-life propoganda, completely forget about the mothers they might end up killing. Hopefully, one day, women will be in control of their reproductive choices and their own lives.

Breaking the cycle..

… Or to be more accurate, why breaking the cycle is so difficult..

Our friend Bikram raised some questions in his post here, and I thought I’d try to answer.

Bikram questions ‘The mother-in-law knew how his son was treating the daughter in law , yet she did not say anything Rather she was calling up the Girls father to give more, I mean WHY.. Did she go through the same when she got married and came to the family..

Let me explain with an example. I met a young woman here. She must be in her late twenties or at max, her early thirties. She grew up in India, but got married to an NRI who was 34 at that point in time. She was 18. She says her parents had no plans to get her married but when the proposal came up, it felt like a good one. She has three children, and lives in a typical joint family type of environment, here in the UK. One day we were talking and she started telling us about how tough it is for her. She works, but once she is home, she is expected to be the obedient, dutiful bahu, making tea for everyone, clearing up. It might not sound like a huge deal, but as she says, if you end up spending 45 mins for having a simple cup of tea- it becomes a big deal. Especially in a country where she has no maids or anybody to help out. If she fancies a cup of tea and makes it for herself without checking with the rest of the family, it is considered quite rude. A small example, but it affected her badly enough for her to share it with us. Then she went on to say, ‘What can I do, I can only wait for when it will be my turn to be the mother-in-law’.

I was stunned to hear that. Surely one would think that she would try to break the cycle rather than have it continue? But then I realized that, for her, it is just a fact, an accepted reality. As a daughter-in-law, she has to accept what is given to her, and she has to wait until her son gets home a DIL before she gets to throw her weight around. She does not think of breaking the cycle because she has accepted the system for what it is.

What horrified me, was just a statement of fact for her. Why? Because that is the system they have been brought up it, that is the system they are familiar with. They don’t see a problem with it. A boy will bring home a wife, while a daughter will be sent away. I have heard this justification from so many people.

Dowry is justified too. People think that it is perfectly legitimate. These days it is termed as ‘gifts’ which the girl’s side gives ‘willingly’. I don’t understand why gifting is only the woman’s parents prerogative? Then of course, people will explain that a daughter is going away to her ‘real home’ so her parents would like to ‘gift’ her things. That to me is the root cause of this whole thing. The imbalance in society which is brought about by the concept of a male child being ‘apna’ and a female child being ‘paraya’.

The system is also the reason a parent dreads the birth of a girl child, dreads the day they will have to shell out huge amounts of money to get her ‘married off’.

The only way the evils like sex selective abortions, dowry etc can be eradicated is the system itself changes. If both sons and daughters take up the responsibility of looking after their parents, if parents of daughters are not left destitute in their old age, if a daughter is not taught that no matter what, once she gets married, her marital home is her home, and not her parental home.

In fact in the program, in both the first and the third episode, we had women expressing how it is so horrible for a parent to have their married daughter coming back home. It broke my heart to listen to that. I can’t even begin to imagine how helpless they must have felt. Where could they have gone? How could they have walked out on their marriages when all that has been drummed into their heads is that their parental home is no longer their home?

The moment that stigma goes away, we will find a lot of women comfortable about standing up for their rights. When they know that they will not make their parents unhappy if they land up at their doorstep. When women understand that they don’t need to accept everything that is thrown at them. When they are brought up with the belief that no matter what, their parents will always be there for them. That they are no ‘paraya dhan’.

Why every little helps..

Deeps’ post and this post on Women’s Web prompts me to write on this subject again.

A lot of times when I start discussing the topic of the condition of girls in India, I get that ‘There she goes again on her feminist track’. The thing is,whatever I say, I feel that it is not enough. It will never be enough – until the date that people stop this yearning for a boy. It will not be enough until people stop treating girls as the unwanted sex. Until a girl child is welcomed just as much as a boy child is. Until people stop saying things like, ‘Pehla bacha ladka ho to santhusthi hai’ – this was said to a friend of mine.

How will mere words help, people ask. Well, I think, words help in its own way.

For one, some people accept it as part of culture. Having seen the boy child preference practiced all around, they take it for granted. They assume that it is normal for grandparents to love grandsons more than granddaughter(I have come across people claiming this- educated people, by the way). So when they hear/read people talking about the injustice, and the why it is so wrong to shun a girl child, they might turn a deaf ear initially, but slowly, I think it will make a difference. One of the people, who used to loudly proclaim how her son was the favourite of his grandparents, has now toned it down. She is now careful not to mention things like that in public again. Probably after she realized that not everybody thinks this way. Hopefully her thinking might have changed too.

I have seen this happen right in front of me. While people might not change their thinking right away, they might start to understand that culture is not a justification for everything.

The same goes for dowry. The more people talk about it, shame it, publicly, and stop treating it as part of our ‘culture’, the more likely it is to die away as a custom.

I am so vocal about this, that nobody in my friends/acquaintance circle dares tell me to have another child to have a boy. Somebody I know told a friend of mine to try again, maybe this time she might have a boy. Only to be told on her face, that she doesn’t care if she has a boy or not – she is happy with her daughter. That was the end of it.

Will all this talking make any real difference. I think it will. I think it makes people think – even if it goes against what they have always seen. And even if one person rethinks what they have grown up with, it makes a difference, don’t you think? At the very least, they might think before speaking in front of vocal people like us, some may remember not to let subconscious discrimination enter their actions, some might go even further.. From the place that we are at – any progress is better than no progress, wouldn’t you agree?

More on adjustments, compromises, and a woman’s life.. Post 9

Commenting on Iya’s and Roop’s posts made me realize that there was so much more that I wanted to say on this topic…

Last year, someone we know got married. She was barely 22, not financially independent. The worst part was that she was getting married to an extremely conservative family, who lived in the same village as her parents. This also meant that she would not be allowed to drive her scooter(which she did before marriage) or wear anything apart from a sari even when she visited her parents. We had tried dissuading her parents and convincing them to let her get an education, and gain financial independence. But to no avail. They wanted the ‘responsibility’ out of the way. They wanted to get her ‘married off’ so that nobody accused them of ‘keeping an unmarried daughter at home’.  They believed that a daughter has no place in her parents place.

Not even a year down the line, she is back at her parents place. She has been verbally/mentally abused badly by the husband. He wants ‘money’ to shut his mouth. Things have got so bad that, she even tried to commit suicide a few times. Finally she is now back at home. Her parents are supportive of her, but they are still trying to see if a ‘samjhauta’ can be reached. I can’t help wonder what ‘samjhauta’? What compromise can be reached when the husband is not even concerned about her. When all he is bothered about is money.

Last year, I had met her when we were in India. She was newly married, and had a few concerns at that time.  I heard her mother/aunts explain to her that we, women cannot expect everything to go our way. We have to compromise, adjust. Don’t have high expectations. Just learn to be a ‘good daughter-in-law’ and everything will be all right. Having known her, I know that she is a sweet person, soft spoken, and someone who generally toes the line. Not someone who will try to make a fuss out of nothing. Knowing this, if she is unhappy, surely, someone should be listening to her rather than pretend that everything will be alright if she ‘adjusts’.

I can’t comprehend the huge rush to get her back in her marital home. What if her in-laws decide to make her life worse for going and talking to her parents about what she faced? Why, why do people think that an abusive husband is not a big deal? Isn’t it better for her to get out of an abusive marriage now, before she has children and gets even more trapped in an unhappy life?

Clearly, nothing matters apart from the perception that the daughter is married. What is of utmost importance, is that an unmarried daughter is not at home, so god forbid, if the married daughter comes home. Lets find the quickest way to send her back. Lets talk about adjustments, compromises, whatever,  lets just get her back where she belongs. After all, she is the paraya dhan. So what if her next suicide attempt is successful. All that matters is that she is in her marital home. Nothing else, apparently, matters.

Adjustment – The magic word?

Couple of years back, we had friends staying over, and as usual, we spent the better part of the weekend, talking.

One of the topics that came up was of their niece who had just started working. Apparently, the family was trying to get her married off and she was being rather stubborn -according to them. They were lamenting about how girls these days have ‘fancy’ ideas and have their own demands before getting married. On asking what these demands were, it turned out that she wanted to continue working after getting married. The family was trying to get her to ‘adjust’ because obviously ‘getting married was far more important than having a career’.

I was shocked to hear this from a seemingly modern couple. They went to explain that they even tried to make her understand by giving my example. ‘My example?’ – was my reaction. Apparently they said that even career women like me gave up their jobs and adjusted. I tried explaining that I did not ‘adjust’ – it was my choice – I worked when I wanted to , I took a break when I wanted to, I was not made to ‘adjust’ at all – by anyone. I did not adjust, I just took a decision based on a lot of factors, but I certainly did not ‘adjust’.  All she wants is to have that same freedom. Why should she be expected to give up her way of life? Why not look for a man who has the same expectations as her. Why expect her to enter a relationship starting off with compromises and adjustments that she does not want to make in the first place. Of course, that fell on deaf ears.

It makes me wonder why a man can lay down expectations of wanting a working wife( or a non-working one, for that matter), but a girl having the same(or similar) expectations is told to adjust? If anything, I would think that it makes more sense to have all these thing on the table – right at the beginning, than expecting one person to give up all their expectations, and then have a frustrated life- all their life?

Last time, in India, I met a newly married girl. She had got married within the same community, near her parents. Her mother wanted more for her. She was hoping that her daughter gets married outside the community so that she gets a different life, but that did not happen because the mother does not have much of a say in matters like this. This girl, after her wedding, is now confined to wearing sarees, she can’t ride her scooty anymore, she can’t step out of the house without her in-laws permission. And to make it worse, most girls, apparently get a little freedom when they go to their parent’s place, but because her parents live in the same town/village, she has to go around with a ghunghat even when she visits her parents! And when she voices her frustration, she is asked to adjust, because that’s what married women have to do. She is told that she will get used to all this after some time. It wouldn’t surprise me if the cheerful, bubbly girl is transformed into a woman with hardly a smile on her face, the next time we meet her. Her husband’s life on the other hand, continues just as before.

Another girl, I know, married into a joint family. All the ‘family’ responsibilities came onto her. Including waking up before everybody else, cooking, getting breakfast ready, and even taking a bed-tea to her sister-in-law! On the weekends, her husband would go out with his old friends, while she stayed at home, looking after her in-laws. And this girl, in question was a professional, before she gave up her job because of all the pressure on her. When her husband went abroad on work, she was asked to stay back to ‘look after her in-laws’. I wonder how they would have managed had their son not been married? Oh wait – that is why they got him married! To get a care-taker! Is she happy with her life? Well, lets just put it this way – I would not have heard about all this, had she been happy.

The reason ‘adjust’ and ‘adjustments’ have become a dirty word, so to speak, is because more often than not, it is the women doing most of the adjustments. More often than not, a woman is expected to become part of a new family, take up responsibilities, live life according to other people’s terms, while her partner gets to lead his life just the way it was.

On the other hand, if both partners were to adjust, compromise, and work towards their marriage, one would feel less annoyed with the word – ‘adjust’. Of course, life is full of adjustments, compromises, but people would be happier doing it, if they did not feel forced into it. None of us will get everything on a platter, and we all have to work towards it, in some way or the other. All of us are fine with certain adjustments, but might draw a line at others. I guess a happy relationship is where both partners are not expected to make those adjustments, that they don’t want to make. So if a girl is clear about having a career, then don’t make her ‘adjust’ and get her married off to man who has made it clear that he doesn’t want a working wife. What is the worst that could happen? She might get married a little later – isn’t it better than a life time of unhappiness for both partners?

Like I tried explaining to my friends, if I had been forced to leave my job, I would have felt frustrated and annoyed. Today, because I have the option, I feel at peace with my decision. And if more women want that, the choice, – what is wrong with it? Unless both partners feel happy and secure  in their relationship, it can go nowhere. And an unhappy relationship affect both partners equally. Eventually.

This is my contribution to ‘The Great Adjustment Story‘ at http://www.womensweb.in.

Not Without My Daughter

The other day in the library, Betty Mahmoody’s Not without my daughter’ caught my eye. I had read it a few years back, but wanted to read it again, yes, I am one of those mad people who re-read books.

The last time I read it, it had moved me, but this time, I was practically in tears. I guess being a mother made me feel what she was feeling much, much more.

The mere thought that someone who you trust(or had trusted), enough to have a child with him, could turn out to be so different and would not think twice before taking away your child from you, is devastating, isn’t it? We dread anything that might take our children away from us, but how would we react when someone as close as your husband decides to do it? And even worse, when he takes you to a country where a woman has practically no say in anything at all. Where a child is always a man’s property. For a while, she was praying for her husband’s death, only to realise that on his death, her child would he his family’s property – not hers! She says, she stopped praying for that as soon as she realised that.

Betty’s chilling tale of how she managed to escape the country with her daughter,Mahtob, will stay with me for a long time. Her determination to leave with her daughter. The embassy in Iran gives her the option to leave without her daughter, which she refuses. She stays determined to leave and leave with her daughter. She explains towards the end how while in the US, she had seen another side to her husband, Moody. She had checked divorce as an option, but had backed when she realised that divorce would give her husband visiting rights at the very least, to her daughter. She decided that she had to take the risk and take her daughter to Iran at least once so that Mahtob is safe forever.

Trapped in Iran, with no friends or help, at times imprisoned in her house by Moody, she wonders if she did take the right decision. Thankfully for her, it all turned out well,in the end. It does make me wonder about how many women go through similar experiences, in countries across the world. Even in countries where laws are equal and fair, things like this could happen if the woman is not strong enough or independent enough. Betty had met another American woman in Tehran, who had accepted her fate and chose to be with her abusive husband in Iran, because she felt that she could not manage on her own, given her lack of educational qualifications.

In so many cases, in our own society, women are held hostage(so to speak) in marriages they are not happy in. While they might not be imprisoned in a physical sense, they are held captive by their lack of confidence, qualification or just the lack of societal support.

The book is thought-provoking in so many levels. It made me thank my luck that I was born where I was.

Financial freedom and women

A few years back, when we were living in Bangalore, I had a maid with whom I used to converse with a mixture of Tamil, few words of Kannada and sign language.

She was a single mother, with two children, one daughter and one son. The daughter being the eldest. She had an abusive marriage and had opted to throw her husband out and he was made to stay away by her helpful neighbors. She made their ends meet by working as a maid in lots of households like ours. Once she was talking about how she wanted so much more for her daughter. She explained that she wanted her daughter to be independent, financially free, so that she never needed to depend on anybody else. She went on to explain that she understood that not everybody can be a doctor or an engineer, but everybody should be capable of living by themself and looking after themselves and their dependents, if need be. I was surprised to hear that clarity of thought from her. Having gone through all sorts of trouble herself, she had realized what was most important for her daughter to be happy in her life. She had plans of educating her daughter, who was then in high school and get her some sort of vocational training, that would hold her in good stead. I remember being very impressed by her far sightedness and her determination to learn from her situation and to ensure that her daughter is better prepared for life.

Some time back a close friend had been going through some difficulties in her marriage. She was trying everything to make it work, and the one thing that she says, kept her going was her sense of self-worth. She knew that she was not in a desperate condition.  She knew that she could start from scratch – if need be. She had that confidence and one of the biggest reasons was that she knew that she was self-sufficient. She did not need to depend on anybody to live a decent life. She was not worried about her parents not taking her back or the society – mainly because she was independent.

I remember having a conversation with someone about the need to make sure that girls are made self sufficient before getting them married off. This person was almost offended. She asked me, why on earth does a woman need to bother about all these things, when she has her father and brother(s) before marriage and her husband after marriage to look after her. It was explained to me that it was attitudes such as mine that caused trouble in the first place. If women knew their place, apparently the need to be self sufficient would never arise! I had mentioned earlier as well, how a family, who should have learnt from their experience, but chose to send their daughter down the same path.

It really made me wonder that the logic which my maid was so clear about, was still so difficult for some people to understand. If every parent, instead of worrying about a daughter’s dowry, brought her up instilling a sense of confidence in her, giving her the tools to stand on her own feet, telling her that she need not be dependent on anybody, half the issues that women face today, would not exist.

My dad always says, ‘Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst’. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Today, I am not a working woman, but I know that I can take care of my family if I need to. I know that I can handle finances, I know that I will not need to depend on anybody else. Preparing our daughters to be in a position to accept whatever life throws at her and not end up a victim? We cannot prepare for everything, but surely we can give our children the confidence that they can handle everything?

This is my entry for the Indusladies International Women’s Day Blog Contest.

As per the rules, I would like to tag GM, Deeps and Saksh.


Send me no roses

He always brought her flowers. Red roses.. as red as her bruises…

He was loving and tender.. as tender as her body felt….

The more she hurt, the bigger the bouquet, the more loving he got..

But today was the last.. she was free at last. Free from the roses, free from the tender loving care.. free from the sudden eruption of rage that left her hurt and bruised. She was now at peace, nobody could hurt her anymore.. This time, the roses were for her funeral.

 

October is the Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Domestic violence is one of the most widespread and the most under-estimated crimes. Domestic violence is just not between spouses. Domestic violence may also be perpetuated by members of the extended family. Domestic violence may also be against children. Domestic violence knows no barriers. It exists in every community, country, race, ethnic group , class of people, sexual orientation and gender. It could begin in any phase of a relationship.  It could happen to any of ‘us’ not ‘them’.

There is no excuse for domestic violence. Nobody ‘asks’ for abuse. It can not be justified. Once one slap is endured, it might just be a matter of time before it escalates to full-fledged regular abuse.

In India, the societal structures make it even more difficult to combat. After I had my daughter, I had a lady who used to come and massage me. She used to tell me about another person who she used to massage, who she was sure was a victim of abuse. Apparently the lady, just weeks after giving birth, had black and blue marks all over her. And at no point was she allowed to be alone with this lady – either her sister-in-law or her mother-in-law would sit by, while she massaged her. Apparently new bruises would appear every now and then. Hearing all this broke my heart.. Here I was being pampered by my parents, and there was another young mother, possibly younger than me, but being treated so badly.

In India, it becomes even more difficult to tackle as a lot of times, even the police refuse to intervene citing it to be a personal matter – between the spouses, to be resolved within the four walls of the house.

I remember another friend whose sister got married to a man settled abroad, who used to abuse her so much that she finally separated. It was terrible for her to live in a new country, with an abusive spouse. Thankfully for her, her parents and family stood by her. She was not sent back to her husband and told to adjust, to compromise…as happens with so many other young women. When reputation in the society and what ‘the neighbours think’ become more important that their daughter’s life.

Physical abuse is not the only thing that is part of domestic abuse. Although we tend talk about women mainly, because going by percentages, more women than men seem to be the victims of domestic abuse, domestic abuse can happen to anybody – irrespective of the gender. Mental abuse is just as part of domestic violence as physical abuse is. Keeping the woman from meeting her friends or family, keeping tab of what she does, checking her mail can all be classified under domestic violence, because of the effect of such activity on the victim. A lot of abusers are extremely gentle and nice in public making it difficult for others to even imagine that the abuser is capable of such atrocities.

Apparently, most people affected by domestic violence are often unaware of the resources available. Which is where campaigns like Bell Bajao become so important. A lot of women will not feel so helpless if they are aware that help is at hand. And a lot of abusers may think twice if they know that their victim can get help!

One of the biggest myths surrounding domestic violence is that a couple should stay together, despite the violence for the sake of the children. Children are NOT better off in an abusive environment. I remember reading about a girl who grew up in a family where her mother was periodically abused by her father. She grew up thinking that it was normal and ended up married to another abuser. It was much later that she realized that she could and did break the cycle. There are long-term effects that have been seen in children who grow up in an abusive environment such as loss of confidence, stress related illnesses, they could copy the behaviour to become either abusers or victims later in life, blame themselves for it. A happy and secure environment with a single parent is far  better than an abusive environment with both parents.

Some interesting links.

How to recognize abuse

Title inspired by a book by Jenny Tomlin called Send me no flowers, which tackled the subject of abuse and was one of the most brutal and shocking books that I read on the subject. It also brought home the different kinds of abuses that comes under the umbrella of domestic abuse.

 

My biggest blessing..

is my little girl..

My daughter gave husband and me a ‘gold star’ each. Mine was for cooking her breakfast, and his was for feeding her 🙂

She gives us so much joy in so many ways, and these little gestures just make me want to gather her up and hug her for ever. We have so many dreams for her, biggest of which would be for her to have a happy fulfilling life, for her to be able to achieve everything that she sets out to do..

Would I have loved her more if she had been a boy? Does the gender make any difference for us parents? I would like to think not. Though, I always wanted a girl, I am sure that if we had a little boy, we would have taken equal joy in his antics, have the same aspirations for him, treat him just the same as we treat her. Why then, do we, as a society, set so much store by the gender of a child?

Though we worship the female form in the form of Durga, Lakshmi , Saraswati, we don’t think twice before aborting a female foetus..

Though we are claim to be more spiritual than the materialistic West, we pray for sons, for purely materialistic reasons..

Though, we are progressing in so many ways, we still have a heavily skewed gender ratio, with illegal gender determination clinics flourishing.

That people still assume that a having a daughter is a ‘sad event’ in one’s life.

Today, is supposed to be Daughter’s Day.  Apparently, sex selective abortions have resulted in ten million women being missing from the Indian population. Where sex determination is not possible, infanticide is practiced. And it is not the rural or poorer strata of society where the gender gap is growing – it is in the richer(and educated) classes that the gender gap is growing. So much for education and awareness.

All I want to hope is that a day will come when a daughter is not a curse, that people will not need to console parents who have daughters. A daughter will not be a liability- just a cherished child. When we just don’t pray to goddesses, but also treat women and girls with the dignity they deserve, not as unwanted members of the society.

A day will come, when son or daughter, we would be equally happy. Son, or daughter, will have the same opportunities. When girls will not be killed even before they are born. When daughter’s days will not be a reminder of how dire the situation of a girl child in India is.

Breaking the cycle…

A family broke up a few days ago.

They were a middle class business family, until the husband’s business failed and the wife was forced to start a ‘tiffin business’ to help provide for her family. With her persistence and hard work, she managed to get things going, educate the children – a girl and a boy and even support her husband to start another business. Today, we heard that apparently the husband raised a hand at the wife , said some stuff and she raised alarm and got neighbours and relatives to chuck her husband out of the house.

Well, I am certainly not getting into the rights and wrongs of this – I do not know enough to make any kind of a judgement.  What really shocked me was that they were planning to get the daughter married of soon. She just competed her twelfth. 19 years old. Apparently they just want to finish off that ‘responsibility’.

It just makes me wonder  – will this cycle ever break? This particular mother wants to marry off the daughter – because she has some money now and can afford it. She is not sure if she will be able to afford it later. The logic is that anyways, they don’t expect her to be a ‘doctor/engineer’ so why waste money and time educating her? We are ready to sponsor her education, if that will persuade them to allow her to study a bit more. But from the look of it, it looks doubtful. It just makes me feel so helpless.

Another child married off – simply because that is a responsibility to be ‘completed’. I wonder if anybody thinks of her aspirations, her dreams.. And more practical matters like getting her equipped to deal with whatever, that comes her way.  Won’t an education open up her mind, give her a way of supporting herself if need be? There are so many things that can be done – diplomas, courses that can help her support her family..  If she is ever, god forbid, in the situation that her mother is today, won’t she be better off with a little education. If not anything else, I think it will make her at least more confident, more likely to able to  take the right decision, than a 19 yr old getting married off to the first man who comes her way.  And also, likely to get a far better match. But no, a better future is something that is important only for the son… for the daughter, the most important thing is to get married off, as quickly as possible..

After all, if we do not break the cycle – it will never break, will it? If this girl is married off now, it is more than likely that she will have little say in the choice of a husband. She might have little say in a lot of things in her future too.. And she might end up meting out the same treatment to her children as well…

I have been told, that I am just not understanding their condition. That is, it is best that the girl gets married off now..  I’m sorry but I just cannot comprehend it – will this cycle ever break? Why do so many of us accept this so calmly?  Does a parent’s responsibility towards a daughter end as soon as they marry her off? Am I being too ’emotional’ in my reaction?