Marriage : An auspicious occasion for Civil death of a woman, in a so-called advanced society
“Civil death (Latin: civiliter mortuus) is the loss of all or almost all civil rights due to any incident or event occurred.”
[civil rights, guarantees of equal social opportunities and equal protection under the law, regardless of race, religion, or other personal characteristics.]
After marriage, do the above rights remain vested in the woman as they are thought to be( can they be exercised with her own will, voluntarily?) ?
Answer is No. They cannot exercise any of the rights without permission of her Husband or his family but all others in the same house can do so without any objections.
Whenever a marriage ceremony is celebrated it is assumed that both Husband & Wife (who engaged in the spiritual ceremony) will live their whole life happily and will always take care of each other. It is also considered that they will form equal part of the Family such as the two wheels of a cart.
Can Brick made and cemented walls actually confine an eternal soul, thoughts and the many rights related to her, which every person ought to get, which are inherited by her as soon as she born as a social person in our society ?
If only a girl is considered to be prestige of a family and all respect and glory of family comes from her. Then why almost all the injustices are caused to her?
Why we started obstructing their rights from the very moment they take birth?
Is she there only to be within the 4 walls of an artificial house where after few years of marriage she is considered equal to a showpiece and all the duties which her Husband and his family have towards her comes to end.
Being a Human she must have Human rights equal to a man but everywhere her husband’s Identity become hers. After marriage-
- She has to change her surname with that of her husband’s.
- She has her own choices but choices are at the option provided to her .
- She creates a heaven within four walls but her whole life she works as a servant there.
- Rarely she is allowed to continue her study as per her wishes.
Here are a few more illustrations highlighting the condition of Indian women after marriage:
1•Forget your male friends and do not make new male friends –
A traditional man in India is more possessive about his married life especially about his wife and because of which large no. of girls consider getting married ‘a loss of social independence’. Going or planning to go for vacations, solo trips or trips with school or college friends or night outs become a very complicated issue.’
2• Husband are not to do household’s–
Men can be lazy or dirty or tired sometimes, it is True. So can be women, but in our Indian society it is considered that the husbands aren’t here to help their wives to clean up messes like women are expected to clean up theirs.’
3• Adapt to the new family whatever it maybe-
In our Indian culture there is a mandatory tradition called “Vidaai”- Transfer of Girl after marriage to the husband’s house. Where she has to stay with husband and his family with which she is not much familiar with. It is hard to become an important part of a new family instantly. In a few days with new norms and habits, to start living with a new set of people and sometimes being forced to make “a show of respect” and build social relationships with new people is another challenge for a woman.
4• Sacrifice of dreams, aspirations and future of her own education-
The occasion of marriage comes with a rosy picture but at the same time it includes making several tough decisions or hard choices that affect a woman professionally and also on the platform of equality. Mother-in-laws do not want their daughter-in-laws to work after marriage, even though she is ambitious and has some aspirations & expectations to make a career for herself but women are expected to fit in a role which can create or provide a better family life and have kids instead of going with their career choices.’ i.e. Child Marriage is a curse to society as it ends a child’s dreams instantly at the moments it is solemnized.
5• Do not allow to lead to divorce or to raise voice against family of husband-
It is a strict and foremost rule for an Indian bride that they must accept whatever happens in their married life or whatever is done to them by the husband’s family members. On the first day of marriage, she is taught not to raise her voice at her husband and mother in law (even if they are wrong), or else her life will be miserable alone and no one will be there to listen to her.
- What if the marriage doesn’t work out as expected?
- What if love between the couple is lost with time?
These ‘what-ifs’ are nothing less than a headache for Indian women because getting a divorce is still considered to be a taboo in India.
6• Losing personal time and energy-
Before marriage all the girls have the complete 24 hours to live a life on her own terms. They can spend a lot of time with friends and family and for their personal doings. But after marriage they usually do not have so much time to even think about these activities. She shall think only about her husband, keeping her in-laws happy, and also with the same energy she has to work at office and at home(if allowed to). Thus, there left with no time & energy for themselves.
7• To meet their own family they need a permission-
Some relationships are considered to be the most sacred and so fundamental that to have them in your life is essentially a blessing. But it is a growing trend that after marriage a woman needs to get permission from their husband and mother-in-law to meet her own family and to stay at their place. Here the question that comes to the mind is- “Why such a holy and sacred ceremony changes an individual’s life to such an extent that she needs approval even to go to her own maternal home?” Is it justifiable ?
8• To follow a fixed pattern of social responsibility and process-
We Indians have adopted a trend i.e. get married, make a beautiful living, have babies, raise them, pay for their education, take care of their needs, save money for their weddings, get them married, and the cycle continues.
What if one of the spouse do not wish to have babies?
Obviously it’s a personal choice, but dealing with relatives who are traumatized by this outlook is not a cakewalk.
Therefore, once married, a woman should leave her in-laws’ house only when she is permitted to do so. She has to sacrifice her social life that existed prior to her marriage to adapt herself to the post one. This boring dramatic line is often used in TV serials and movies to denote the unwavering loyalty and devotion an Indian woman is expected to show to her husband and her in-laws.
[In case of failed marriages, it is usual phenomenon that women are afraid to take any legal action. And when situation goes out of control, only a few women have the courage to enforce their rights and opt out of such broken relationship.]
The Constitution of India has provided many rights to married women. Some of them rights are:
- Right to Streedhan – A wife has complete ownership rights to all her streedhan, which are the gifts and money given to her before and after marriage. The ownership rights to streedhan belong to the wife, even if it is placed in the custody of her husband or her in-laws.
- Right to residence – A wife has the right to reside in the matrimonial household where her husband resides, irrespective of the fact that whether it is an ancestral house, a joint family house, a self-acquired house or a rented house.
- Right to a committed relationship – A Hindu husband cannot have an affair outside marriage or marry another girl unless he is legally divorced. A husband can be charged of adultery if he is in a relationship with another married woman. His wife also has the right to file for divorce on the grounds of his extra-marital relationship.
- Right to live with dignity & self respect– A wife has the right to live her life with dignity and to have the same lifestyle that her husband’s and in-laws have. She also has the right to be free of any mental and physical torture.
- Right to maintenance by husband – A wife is entitled to claim decent living & basic comforts of life by her husband as per his living standards. A woman, a legally wedded wife or one who is legally separated and is not remarried or who has been divorced from her husband , can claim maintenance.
- Right to child maintenance – Husband and wife must provide for their minor child. If the wife is incapable of earning a living, the husband must provide financial support. If both the parents are financially incapable, then they can seek help from the grandparents to maintain the child. A minor child also has the right to seek partition in ancestral property.
“As a matter of routine, every woman should be apprised of the fact that, as per law, they are entitled to all articles, movable or immovable received during their marriage and can even claim maintenance. Though they may have family support or may be in immense emotional trauma, they should step forward to seek maintenance for themselves and for their child from the court. It is important for them to keep themselves apprised about the finances of their husband, including details like tax-payments, bank accounts and monthly bills,”
-Advocate Sudarshani Ray, a renowned matrimonial lawyer, Delhi.
In the conclusion, it can be said that it is better to be aware of rights and responsibilities from the beginning, than regretting in the end. The life you have been gifted with is meant to be lived to the fullest, not to be suffered through in silence.