Social ties provide people with a sense of identity, purpose, belonging, and support. When a person without-disability marries a person with-disability, it is a three-tier acceptance: partner, family, and society. It sets in motion other changes. Here, the thinking capability of the wedding partners defeats the narrowly conceived perception of the society.
This thinking capability is further unknowingly substantiated by the medical science by the instances of children born thereof without any bodily impairment. The dignity that this integration bestows upon the person with-disability is unique in perception.
The resultant feelings of ‘we are family’ cures the social humiliation experienced previously. The children become the carriers of the ‘socially fractured dreams’ of their parents. Government schemes such as ‘Award of Incentive of Rs. 50,000/- for marriage between PWDs and normal persons’ can’t generate a proper understanding within our society.
Marriage, a culturally recognized union between people later called spouses, establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws. It is considered a cultural universal, but the definition of marriage varies between cultures and religions, and over time. The marriage is a pious relationship between man and his woman and is endorsed by the Holy scripture. About the tranquility that marriage bestows upon, we find a mention at many instances in Holy Quran. I quote one such mention: “Our Lord, grant us from among our spouses and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us as an example for the righteous”. Quran (25:74)
The importance of marriage cannot be underestimated as it provides social, economic and emotional benefits to partners. Marriage is expected to promote physical well-being due to a greater availability of emotional, social-support and control which are key processes to meaning and purpose in life. Several studies have found that married couples enjoy several benefits with notable ones such as having fewer acute illness, reduced depression, lower rate of psychological distress, and morbidity risk, lower rate of suicide, better mental and physical health, better chance of living longer, and happier.
Several theories have been developed by different schools of thought such as Institutional, Economic, Demographic, Sociological, and Theories related to dowry. The cultural beliefs and myths of society have limited the marriage opportunities for people with disabilities. People with disabilities are perceived as less eligible marriage partners. They have limited chances of getting married as many families reject them because they are perceived to be asexual and unproductive. Society has historically stigmatized and discriminated against people with disabilities in general which affect their participation in society. Domestic challenge is a major factor which affect people with disabilities in marriage. This is due to the traditional definition of household duties such as ‘breadwinner’ and ‘housewives. The traditional role in the house is hindering people with disabilities especially women in most communities since their disabilities limit their participation.
Although Article 21 of the Indian Constitution provides for the ‘right to life’ to all its citizens, ground realities leave a lot to be desired. The Right to Life for people with disabilities is not explicitly stated even in the disability laws themselves. Even the new RPD Act, 2016, does not explicitly mention the right to life. Research needs to be promoted under the Human Development Model of Disability (based on Amartya Sens Capability Approach) about the marriage of persons with disabilities. Marriage has a strong bearing on different aspects of human life. Despite being an individual level phenomenon. Its effect can be realized both at the familial and societal levels. “The Ministry of Human Resource Development should embark on public education with the focus on attitudinal change towards people with disability and their marriage”.
Janib M Wani is a Ph. D Research Scholar working on Disability Rights at Department of Political Science, University of Kashmir.