5) A forced marriage with everything forced!
Scenario: This is a desperate and dangerous situation which Ms. W is facing at such a tender age. She is still 16 and her parents want her married to a man of their choice, who is aged 28! She has cried her heart out and convinced them that she wants to complete school but they refuse to budge. Women are supposed to keep silent and not raise any objections to matters of marriage in their family!
Next week, she will be meeting her future husband and in-laws for the first time and they are going to be married after two months. Ms. W meets Mr. M (who she starts liking secretly), who completely understands her situation and they have planned to escape at the right moment.
Ms. W vehemently opposes this decision as a final ultimatum and is locked up inside her room, and prevented from going to school as punishment. She vows to escape as she does not want to meet the same fate as her older sister, who was married off at the age of 14 and is now in an abusive marriage(with two kids to take care of )…
She has the guts to decide what is right for her, but she loves her parents. Why cannot they understand that her happiness lies in pursuing a rewarding career and not in marriage? Was she born to only get married one day and bend down to her husband forever? Does she not have dreams of her own? Why are her choice and preference not given any preference but treated as a burden of shame?
Point of View
Parents(of Ms. W)
“Ms. W has reached a marriageable age according to our family traditions and beliefs and she is someone else’s belonging(Amanat)…
” We are right in choosing for her an experienced and well-settled life-partner, with good age difference as there will be respect in their relationship.
” We have to marry her now as we are getting many marriage offers for her and these may decrease as she grows older.
” She will not raise any objections surely, as she knows that her elder sibling was married at an even younger age.
” Her future husband is not going to stop her from pursuing her education and we will be free from any tension of sending her to school if she wants to pursue her higher studies abroad in future, as she will not be alone.
” We still have more children to look after and marry in future and we fear we may not be able to meet with their expenses if her marriage is delayed further.
” We will coax her to sign the contract in the presence of close relatives and allow them to get comfortable with each other after our approval.
” She will gradually learn to adjust to her new life as someone’s wife and accept her future husband as the right life partner.
” It may look like a forced marriage to someone outside our family, but we are doing it for securing her future and to finish our responsibilities as her parents.
” I am so young and have not even finished school yet. Do I deserve to get married now just because I have to get married eventually someday?
” What if I choose to run away before the marriage and choose a life of my own? I do not even have the financial ability to support myself as I have not even completed school!
” Why am I being forced into a marriage, without my consent and will and without any regard for my feelings?
” Will I be really allowed to finish school and pursue higher studies to land my dream job after marriage?
” What if my husband turns out to be abusive (just like my sister’s husband) and shatters my dreams of a perfect marriage?
” Will my parents take me back if I leave him? Will they accept me with open arms and treat me with respect?
” What if I become pregnant and he is not there to help me after childbirth? Will my parents support me at this time, with a baby?
” Should I contact an NGO or a support group or the police to prevent this forced marriage?
” Even if this marriage is prevented, what is the guarantee that I will not be fooled into such an arrangement in a dubious way, or threatened with dire consequences in future ?(in an unsuspecting way)
” The Indian Constitution provides strict laws for protection in the case of a forced marriage.
” Girls under the age of 18 and boys under the age of 21 cannot legally marry in India, hence the marriage itself becomes illegal.
” In extreme cases where there is no option left, it is better to seek legal help and hire a lawyer to file a case under the following Acts:
1) Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 (PCMA)
2)the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 (G&WA)
3) the Majority Act, 1875
4) the Family Courts Act, 1984 (FCA)
5)Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA)
Forced marriage is like hijacking your Right to Life, which is your fundamental right. The Right to Consensual Marriage is also included in this right.
If your life is threatened with violence and abuse, it is better to call the Women’s Cell of the nearest police station.
The National Commission for Women lodges complaints in such cases and can help provide the right guidance to deal with the situation.
Love Commandos is another group you can contact for aiding you in the tenebrous alley of forced marriage. They provide shelter and relief to prevent forced marriages too. Phone Numbers- 09313784375 & 09313550006
Confronting the break in tradition -Part 5