Forced Marriages And Challenges of Finding Life Partners
- By Sam George
- Published 05/3/2007
Sam George is the Executive Director of PARIVAR International - a non-profit initiative to address the needs of youth and families of Asian Indian origin in North America and to the Asian Indian community worldwide. Parivar means family in many Indian languages. Sam George also serves as one of the founding directors of Urban India Ministries
www.UrbanIndia.org Sam George and his wife, Mary have spoken at premarital and family events in many countries. They are parents of two boys and make their home in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Sam is the author of the book “Understanding the Coconut Generation: Ministry to the Americanized Asian Indians." Check out this website www.CoconutGeneration.com Coconut (brown on the outside, white on the inside) is a metaphor for the Americanized Asian Indians. Sam George can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently I read a story from Andhra Pradesh (India) about a 21-year-old bride who protested against her parents on the eve of her wedding. As a result, she was subjected to violent abuse in full public view by her parents trying to force her into submission. Sadly, this incident happened in front of the groom and her aunt’s son!
Under the domestic violence act, marrying off a major without her consent is a violation in India. But everyday there are scores of children (especially women) who are married off without their consent. Marriageable girls are seen as a liability to parents in India. The societal expectations, dowry, communal pressure, gender inequality, arranged marriage systems etc have worked against marriageble young people.
In Indian culture, it is the parent's responsibility to find a match for their children when they come of age. No matter how you have raised your children or how educated they are, if you fail to get them married at the “right” time, you are considered as a failure. Getting children married (so that you will have grandchildren) is often considered as the highest parental duty.
Often brides and grooms who are expected to live together for life, have no choice in this matter to express their desire or opinion about choice of their mate. This is tragic. Many parents do not have any clue of their children’s outlook or aspirations. Finding a match within a caste/religion, economic assets, social status etc are a driving force behind parents choice, while young people look for emotional compatibility, personal aspirations, like and dislikes etc.
It should not be one way or other. I wish both parents and marriageable young people are able to see why they need to take both views into account. With a steady rise in broken marriages in the Indian society, which once prided itself in strong family culture, we need to develop a more comprehensive approach to help future generations to find right mates and help them build strong marriages.