The big fat Indian wedding is almost a cliché. Who’s-who of the west find it an instant attraction. Scroll through the channels on TV and you will find that all the daily soaps are unanimously based on this theme. In a country so obsessed with marriage when the Delhi High Court issues a commandment decreasing the marriageable age of Muslim girls down to 15 years, the impacts are deep and dark.
Unfortunately in our country of over a billion gender equality is still a far cry. The birth of a girl child is still seen as God’s disgrace in most of the places. The trend is not limited to the economically weak but is deep-rooted even in the socially affluent. While most of the parents today agree to an equal right to education, the way a girl child is brought up varies greatly from the freedom a boy enjoys. The society looks at girls as mere objects to be given away in marriage. Tying the knot is considered the ultimate objective of a girl’s life in the Indian society. They fix the age, the exact qualifications, and the possible desirable qualities in a bride and this sets the benchmark for a girl. Sadly, when her personal ambitions or beliefs contradict these so-called “norms of the society”, an Indian girl is almost always character-assassinated and/or emotionally tortured.
Medical Science has established that the right age for marriage for a girl is not less than eighteen years. It is at this age that a girl is prepared at least physically for a union of this kind. Marriage while just a teenager has several emotional, physical and psychological impacts on an individual as it’s that phase of life when stage is being set for the years to follow. A person is just a kid growing up and a heavy commitment like marriage takes all the innocence away. The argument given in court by certain Islamic political parties was that since the minimum age of consensual sex in India is fifteen it should be the same for turning the union “holy”. Fact is, while the teenage body has high sexual tendencies it still isn’t well-equipped for handling a pregnancy, which in certain cases might even be fatal to the mother. Even when the mother survives a child-birth at this age, it renders the body in a bad-shape for an entire lifetime.
Changes happen from the inside out. If the society has to stop victimizing females the first step has to be taken by the victim themselves. If one refuses to bear discrimination it not only boosts self-confidence but also sends out a strong message. The second change needs to happen in the mentality of the families. It’s high time the parents stop seeing daughters as a transactional entity and start respecting them as individuals with every right to dream without being burdened by the sexist theory of “the family’s honor lies in the hands of the daughters”. However, the biggest change in this particular case needs to happen in the political fiber.
The small-scale political parties still operate with the divide-and-rule policy. They seek the weakest points in a segment of society and target it in order to generate vote banks. Even the educated and working fall prey to such tactics. The big question is: Will the leaders of these political parties or law-makers ever let their daughters be married before the right age? Will they ever suggest getting married at 15 to their kith and kin? If the answer is no then its time for them to introspect and ask themselves who are they really to pass a judgment that has the potential to destroy several lives!