From last few days an image on social media has been making rounds, in which a young man can be seen waiting outside examination centre, where his wife had been sitting for her B.Ed. Exams.
From the image it appears that the person in the picture is trying to lullaby his baby to sleep in absence of her mother. Netizens were quick to notice this picture and within no time this image started trending on social media platform across the valley.
What one could gauge from the reactions of people on the image is that the majority had taken a unilateral stand on this gesture and they had started projecting the person in the picture as a hero at the drop of a hat, as if he had done some great service by allowing her wife to appear in exams.
What might have been a normal and unnoticeable act in other parts of the globe is being blown out of proportion in our valley for simple reason, as pursuing studies post marriage seems like rear phenomena and when it comes to a lactating mother pursuing education, it sounds damn impossible.
The debate on this image has opened the proverbial pandora’s box regarding the educational rights of women post their marriage. The comments on the image by people speak volumes about our orthodox mentality regarding the sacred institution of marriage being a barrier in the academic progress of girls.
Why girls pursuing educational degree are often hesitant to tie a sacred knot during their stay in universities for higher education? Do they fear it might lead to their academic stagnation.
Why marriage instead of being a liberating force is proving to be opposite in our lives needs to be discussed; is academic stagnation one of the reasons behind our marriages getting delayed and girls preferring to marry above their usual marriageable age just to complete their education.
This is a gendered issue as our female folk are often at the receiving end of this cruel societal norm. Usually our sacred agreement of nikah is signed on the terms and conditions set by boy’s family, girl accepts these T&Cs as fait accompli without complaining about her genuine rights and duties enshrined to her in religion and state constitution.
In constitution as per article 21, every person irrespective of gender has right to live with dignity and earn livelihood for survival, so why can’t woman pursue her education after her marriage without prior permission from her in-laws, if law guarantees her so.
But in our patriarchal and conservative society rights and duties of a bride are dictated by her in-laws, in many cases it has been found our own mother in law plays spoilsport as she doesn’t want her daughter-in-law to pursue her studies or work outside her home. Instead she considers her as household assistant employed (read married) to lower workload in routine household chorus, nothing more. Some families are generous enough in allowing their bride to pursue her career goals, but that just appears to be mere eyewash.
With passage of time her education seems like undue concession from family and slowly enthusiasm towards her educational needs fades. Finally she is made to swallow a bitter pill of acceptance that after marriage education jumps out of the window and one should utilize her energy in serving family , that ultimately forces them to discontinue their studies midway.
Recently I heard one such tale of a girl straight from horses mouth; how she was literally forced to marry a person by her family, who happened to be a government employee in revenue department on verbal assurance that she will be allowed to work in private school and complete her master’s through regular mode after marriage.
One year after the marriage everything was going hunky dory in her life as she was allowed to pursue her career and attend the job, but the attitude of her husband towards her changed after she had a baby. First, she was barred from going to teach at school by citing the clichéd quote often used by men to discourage women from working; that women’s place is in her home not in the market.
She was not meant for earning as her earning is haram. Seeing this attitude of her husband towards her, she was forced to give up her studies; thus, her dream of pursing doctorate degree was cut short by a person who had assured her to pursue these dreams before marriage. Above story is the microcosm of our attitude towards our spouses who leave comfort of their parental home before settling with in-laws. This also busts the myth that educated husbands are liberal in allowing their wives to pursue studies.
Government and civil society should start some awareness program about rights of women especially post marital life, be it about inheritance rights at their parental home or domestic rights at home, so they can live a dignified life in future without succumbing to whims and fancies of misogynistic norms infecting our society.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.