Monday, December 04, 2017

Slavery (Or why there's so much drama over a girl choosing a boy)

At 18, you are expected to bear children, keep them healthy and craft a judicious citizenry. You are expected not to die in the process. At 22, you can renounce the world. At 13, you can stop eating food. That's not illegal.

At 18, you are expected to be sensible of human, civic, democratic rights. At 25, you can enter Parliament and make laws that govern the land. When you take an oath to uphold the Contitution, you are expected to be equal to this task.

But at 25, you are not deemed fit to choose the man you sleep with or your personal divinity. Indian girls and women, never let yourself forget – the men who rule your nation think you are old enough for sex and childbirth at 18, ONLY as long as you don't get to choose your mate.

There was a time they thought it was okay to have you handed over to a stranger at 12; the law did not see it fit to impose an upper age limit for the groom they picked out. They married you off at 8, or 9, or 12, or 14, or 18, because they wanted to pre-empt you making your own choice.

There are polite ways of saying it. That they are tradition-bound. That they did their best for you. That life is hard and match-making complicated. That they want you to be safe and the neighbourhood is rough. That you don't know enough about the world. But under the polite veneer remains the hard, cold diamond of truth – they want you stripped of choice. The corollary sounds worse: they want you to have sex as per their command. If it sounds ugly, it is.

Since I am not feeling polite these days, I will put in it simple words: this is slavery. A person who does not get to choose her/his sexual mate is a slave.


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