Empowering Women

“I decide whom to marry”, says a young bride from Rajasthan

By Rachna Gahilote Bisht

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We extend our sincere gratitude to Rachna Gahilote Bisht for her contribution to Nari. Her insightful and thought-provoking story highlights the significant changes taking place in rural India, where education is empowering young women to voice their opinions and make their own decisions. This narrative sheds light to the transformative power of education and the evolving societal norms that support women’s autonomy. Thank you, Rachna, for bringing this important story to our readers!

Choosing a life-partner is still primarily a prerogative of the parents or guardians in India. Primary consideration in choosing a suitable match for the child is their family, financial status, education and other physical attributes. In most cases the first choice is given to the groom’s side and the groom, then comes the bride’s family while the view of the bride is not given much importance. It is presumed that the girl will follow the commands of the family and the parents can never go wrong with the decision. Love marriages which were not much appreciated are uncommon even today. More so if we talk about villages.

Rajasthan is a male dominated society where women traditionally follow the purdah system. However, over the years there have been visible changes in society. Girls are now getting the opportunity to attend school, although the male child mostly gets priority over the female sibling. Whenever there is a need to prioritise between two children, preference is given to the male child, be it for spending on their education, leisure or other related demands.

One of our staff who hails from Rajasthan took leave for a month as his marriage was fixed. He left Delhi on 15th May as time was required for preparations and later certain ceremonies had to be performed. He was to return on 1st June but then every time he would push his return by a few days. Initially we thought it was the desire to stay longer but then we realized that his marriage did not take place on the decided date. First, the excuse was someone in the bride’s family had passed away, so the date was pushed by a week. Later, we were told that the marriage would take place at a later date as the bride’s family was delaying it on one pretext or another.

As the prospective groom returned to Delhi yesterday, he narrated the entire story to us. The girl from the village in Bhadnore was 10th pass which is no mean achievement, while our staff member was totally illiterate and had never been to school. The girl was not too happy with the match which was fixed three years ago. She expressed her concern to her family, who, breaking many norms, decided to call off the wedding.

Not to say that we do not feel sad for the boy but then this story has many grey shades to it. But one thing that stands out is the girl’s power to make a decision and the support she managed to garner from her family. Education gives you the confidence to speak out.

This is the changing rural society where girls, even though in small pockets, are beginning to voice their likes and dislikes even in matters which were otherwise family decisions with absolutely no say from the girl. Such lone incidents do show the changes education can bring about in one life.
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