Do arranged marriages take place outside of India?
Women in india
Dowry in India
The dowry has been a tradition in India for centuries. Although the law has banned it since 1961, it is still very common. Originally, the bride's family equipped their daughter with jewelry or other valuable items for the wedding, later the dowry became the source of income for the groom's family.
Often times, payments are a huge burden on the bride's family. Dowry disputes in Indian families repeatedly lead to women being mistreated, rejected or even killed.
A dark-skinned bride can be expensive
Even today, daughters and sons in India have to comply with the wishes of their parents when choosing a partner. A woman is expected to be happy when she is accepted into the household of her in-laws. Accordingly, the bride's parents have to pay when they get married. If the bride has an academic education, this rarely impresses the in-laws. The new wife in the family should continue to run the household to the taste of the mother-in-law.
Often the dowry is concealed as a gift, but in fact the parents negotiate a price that the bride's family has to pay the in-laws. The amount of the dowry depends on the bride's appearance, skin color and upbringing, as well as the husband's income, caste and future prospects.
The arranged marriage
Around 90 percent of all Indian marriages are arranged by the parents of the newlyweds. The families see marriage as an opportunity to secure themselves economically and socially. Even if consent for arranged marriages is crumbling, this practice still dominates: the partner and timing are determined by the parents and the eldest son in the family.
The search for a partner runs through marriage agencies or advertisements in newspapers and the Internet. Education, income and caste are decisive selection criteria.
Marriages that are concluded across caste boundaries are rare. But the arranged marriage is not always seen as a compulsion. Many young Indians even want their parents to look for a partner for them. The family has a high priority in India and the individual subordinates himself to the interests of the community.
Violence against women
The group rape of a young student in Delhi in December 2012 shocked the world. The young woman died of her serious injuries. This act sparked massive protests by Indian women. The dead woman's parents also turned to the public. Since then, the rape penalties have been tightened and the perpetrators are convicted more frequently. In March 2020, four of the six men involved in the gang rape were convicted and executed.
But covering up crimes against women remains a massive problem. Many officials are bribed by the defendant's family and refuse to pursue the case. If victims have the courage to turn to the police, they will simply be turned away. And that even though women and men are legally equal. But in India's cities there is increasing resistance to this disenfranchisement and abuse.
In India, more than 100 rapes are reported to the police every day. Between 2007 and 2016, the number rose by 83 percent. The number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher. This makes India the most dangerous country in the world for women.
Studies suggest that every third married woman in India is abused by her husband or his family. Every tenth woman is exposed to regular violence with serious injuries.
The disdain for women is also evident in dowry murders. It is estimated that around 25,000 women are murdered each year in India because the brides' families allegedly do not pay enough dowries. Women are burned alive: Because most Indian households have kerosene stoves, the perpetrators often disguise the murders as "kitchen accidents". Women who are mistreated in their in-laws often commit suicide. And women are still victims of so-called honor killings: especially in northern India, girls and women have to die because they allegedly defile family honor. The number of unreported cases is high.
According to experts, the violence against women is largely due to the large surplus of men in India. There should actually be 63 million more women and girls living in India. But because parents want sons, millions of female fetuses are aborted. Not infrequently, newborn girls are also killed.
Indian women fight back
Despite the massive violence, women's rights activists in India are calling for women not to be seen as just victims. This leads to stigma and passivity. More and more women are resisting their role in society. Many fight against oppression and for a self-determined life.
Although many middle-class women today have an education or a university degree, their careers usually end in marriage. They submit to the needs of the man and their in-laws. Only 24 percent of women in India have a paid job. But especially in the growing middle and upper classes, more and more women insist on working outside the family household even after marriage. If necessary, they refrain from getting married.
Emancipation through work
In recent years, employment agencies have been set up in India to recruit women. One of them is “Jobs for her”. It offers training courses to brush up on skills or acquire new knowledge. It is often the lack of self-esteem that makes it difficult for women to return to work after their job break. The agency connects women who were often isolated during their work break with colleagues.
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