But for a government job

The above mentioned survey says that the average age where a human being must get married has increased from 24 to 32 years.
But for a government job
Representational Pic

Five years ago, a survey conducted by Kashmir University's Sociology Department brought the rot in Kashmiri society to the fore. The survey held that a government job added to a girl's chances of getting a suitable and early match.  The situation continues to be as grim as it was five years ago. 

Umaira who works in a private firm was rejected five times. All the boys who came to see her were interested in a girl with a government job.  Umaira will enter complete  thirty-six  years  of her life next month. And by local standards, her marriage is already late by 14 years.

Umaira is not the only girl in dilemma in conflict torn Kashmir. There are many others and the problem has now assumed alarming proportions.  According to unofficial estimates, thousands of boys and girls have crossed the marriageable age in Srinagar alone.

The above mentioned survey says that the average age where a human being must get married has increased from 24 to 32 years.  During the survey 1,500 respondents were interviewed. Sixty four percent of them revealed that late marriages adversely affected the pre-marital behaviour of the youth.  "Since sex is a biological need, the youth want to satisfy themselves through any means."

One hundred and eighty respondents agreed that it was difficult to control biological needs. The  `unfortunate' trend has led to extra-marital relationships. The survey gives a host of reasons including poverty, unemployment and  the on-going conflict for the unfortunate phenomenon. According to the survey, late marriage has devastating consequences like psychiatric problems, suicides, drug addiction, pre- and extra-marital affairs, sex scandals and a spurt in divorces.

The trend has a serious bearing on the demographic composition of the Valley.  A noted social scientist said the number of single men and women in Kashmir had gone up to 65 per cent. According to her, they comprise 45 per cent females and 20 per centmales.

Shockingly, there has been an alarming increase in love marriages during the past few years.  Customs, newly invented vices and the demand for working women has wreaked havoc with the institution of marriage in Kashmir. But modern eves and boys have found a way out. The reservations of conservative society notwithstanding, love marriages are becoming acceptable slowly but surely.

Muhammad Yasin, an untiring social worker earns his livelihood by writing petitions in the  court. According to him, more than five court marriages are solemnized every day in the court premises. When asked how he can be so sure about the number, Yasin said: "The marriage agreements drafted by Advocates or petition writers have to be notorised. A lawyer designated as Notary Public signs the affidavits and other documents. In the evening, the data can be obtained easily by visiting the chambers of the Notaries. In addition, we have an Imam in the court who performs the Nikah. So there is absolutely no difficulty in getting the data on a daily basis."

Yasin, however, could not say with certainty as to how many marriages take place in district and tehsil courts. "There was a time when the parents of the girl would lodge a complaint under section 363 Ranbir Penal Code (RPC). Section 363 RPC deals with kidnapping. In the past the groom had to elope with the bride for a fortnight or so. More often than not the newlyweds would be recovered by the police. But times have changed. Now nobody lodges such complaints now", he said.

Anjum is a computer wizard. Two years ago she fell in love and opted for court marriage when her parents refused to accept her prince charming. "My parents were forced to accept the marriage because they could not find a suitable match for my younger sister for the past two years. She is educated but unemployed. The boys want employed girls", she said.

Anjum says the love marriages not only simplify the marriage but save a lot of money as well. "In a love marriage the husband cannot even dream of dowry. The conditions are fixed", she said smilingly. A senior Advocate vindicates Anjum's stand. "Around 80000 youth got killed during the past two decades. There is dearth of boys. The quest for a working wife has further complicated the problem. Late marriages in Kashmir are a result of this trend. It has forced many a girl into prostitution", he said.

Marriage, according to Rukhsana (name changed) has become too costly an affair in Kashmir. "Poor people cannot afford marriage. The love marriages, therefore, are becoming popular", she said.

Religious and social workers have been appealing the people to refrain from a crude show of ostentation during marriages. The important institution is getting polluted. The clergy alone cannot save it from further rot. The society has to wake up and do the needful.

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