Arranged marriage is legal in India

3. Marriage: arrangement, love, divorce Although for many girls and women marriage is linked to stories or experiences of violence and repression, there is hardly a woman who does not want to marry. Marriage is deeply anchored in the cultural thinking of Indians, it is a crucial component of their identity and significantly structures gender relations. Its importance is also expressed in the fact that for girls marriage in the ancient texts (for example in Manusmriti II: 67) is equated with the upanayana * initiation of young men, 1 the most important rite in the life of an adolescent man, his "social birth" symbolizes. Remarkably, the wedding is the only important rite of passage in which there is no periodic, ritual impurity for women, 2 and hardly any event gives rise to more dramatic spectacle than a wedding feast. A lavish wedding reception is very important, because weddings are considered to be the most significant family events.3 They are not viewed as the private affair of two individuals, but rather as the gathering of two families.4 It is not uncommon for parents to start with the birth of a daughter for their dowry and wedding expenses to save, which in the Indian middle class can often devour five to ten times the annual salary of a family. Regardless of how liberal or westernized, in India you don't get married in a pair of shorts, kiss the bride, exchange rings and that's it - it's much more than that. The upper limit of spending is open, because money, regardless of whether you have it or not, should not play a role in this overloaded, colorful and happy event. Similar to how temples were once built as replicas of royal palaces for the gods to worship, to give them to, to feed them, the wedding feast becomes a multi-day staging of a dream and fairy tale world in which the newlyweds takes on the role of a pair of kings or gods.5 Even the arrival of the groom at the decisive wedding ceremony resembles a dramaturgically perfect spectacle: the groom is no more allowed to walk than a king; Traditionally, he comes with his family and a band on a white horse (or drives up in a flower-decorated car) and is received by the bride's family. Even in the poorer strata of society, who make up around four fifths of the total population of India, a wedding obliges the community to hold a pompous reception, which also serves to gain respect from relatives, in the village and in the neighborhood. Maintain respect. So weddings in India are not a private affair, but a public affair. Publicity and control of relationships are decisive factors for the importance attached to marriage to this day.6 While young people only a few generations ago had no say and often saw their partner for the first time on the day of the wedding (in segments of Indian society that is still the case today), the 21st century is settling for a mixture of individual and family needs: All possible forms of semi-arranged marriages are emerging, which in India are tongue-in-cheekly called “re-arranged marriages ”.7 It would be premature to believe that arranged marriages would be rejected by modern young people if they had a free choice. Surveys of the educated urban middle class over the past 20 years show the opposite. A study carried out in 1994 with 1,715 adults in five Indian metropolises found that 74% of women and almost as many men prefer an arranged marriage to a love marriage. That this is not necessarily the result of a conservative attitude is shown by the fact that 80% 3. Marriage40 of the same respondents also took the view that men should help in the household.8 Exactly the class that increases with increasing economic independence and access to modern communication technologies Demanding individuality and sexual freedoms is more positive about a “semi-arranged” marriage in which parents and children come to a consensus than a love marriage. The concept of free choice of partner is on the one hand idealized and desired by the growing generation, on the other hand young women are pragmatic enough to view it as a romantic and dangerous “cinema fantasy” with an uncertain outcome, because whoever marries against the will of the family is also in times of crisis on your own. If the majority of the “urban fifth”, which calls for freer sexuality, advocate consensus with the family, one should be careful not to discount the vast majority of the Indian population - at least four fifths - with their ideas of arranged marriage as old-fashioned. The reason for this is that love marriages have a bad reputation in India - they are said to have an unfortunate outcome. This reputation is more than a rumor, because of the negative social attitudes that put these marriages under great pressure.9 For example, a study of various castes from 15 villages in Tamil Nadu found that only 5 out of 70 women had entered into “love marriages”. None of these five women (and men) had the moral or material support of their parents when they got married; they had to run away and get married in a temple. Four of the five women regret their decision today. «Resistance from her husband's parents has made her life miserable. Their husbands failed to break away from their parents due to financial problems, and they came into their new family “empty-handed” and since they cannot expect any support from their own parents, the situation has only widened exacerbated. ”10 Other studies also show that women who fail a marriage 41Arrangement, Liebe, divorce marriage can only rely on family support in the rarest of cases and not have the opportunity to return to their parents' home. Sripriya, for example, a poor mother, had to leave the house of her parents-in-law when her marriage failed: "They didn't give my child anything to eat, I went hungry and nobody cared about it." 11 Precisely because the marriage was based on the status of the entire family and If their ancestry works, it is considered too important a decision to be left completely to the young people. The ritual indissolubility of marriage (not the legal option of divorce), the high status associated with marriage, and the Difficulties that women in particular face in a failed marriage lead the majority of unmarried women from conservative as well as liberal parents to rely on the experience and judgment of their parents when choosing a partner, or at least to include them. From a “western” perspective one could criticize that they shy away from taking responsibility themselves. The consensus of the family, however, often gives them a security that they would not want to do without in this decisive life decision, even if they had the choice.13 In the self-image of many young Indians, the right choice of partner must not be based solely on individual wishes, love and sexual Attraction based. Viewed more soberly, marriage as a ritualized form of bringing two families together often places economic interests and the regulation of the (hierarchical) social order in the foreground. In the urban middle class of the 21st century, economic interests play a decisive role in partner choice, in most cases far more than romantic longings. This is also reflected in newspaper advertisements and online portals. Fifteen years ago, when I was doing research on social and religious changes in urban women, ideas of the bride and groom were almost identical to the ideas that can be found on online portals today. To put it bluntly: apart from specific characteristics such as caste membership, family background or region, she should primarily be slim, fair-skinned and very well educated, i.e. have at least a college degree; he should have a good income or a promising profession, whereby the desired professional direction is often specified. It is not surprising that the praising of young women and their family and personal backgrounds takes up a much larger space than that of young men. What is new is that in addition to shaadi.com, the largest online market for those willing to marry, there is now also an online portal for divorced women and men (a reference to the fact that divorced partners in India, especially women, have little chance on the regular market have to reconnect). Although the Indian advertising market is segmented by region (Bengal, Punjab, etc.), caste (jati *), religion (Christians, Muslims, Buddhists), language and professions (engineers, medical professionals, merchants, etc.), it has changed in this regard changed a lot. There is a much greater openness to marry outside one's own caste, region or religion than a decade ago, which correlates with the increasing mobility and economic independence in urban centers. Even if 90% of Indian marriages continue to be arranged within the boundaries of “community”, religion and caste, the 10% marriages that were concluded outside of these previously almost insurmountable barriers point to a significant change.Matchmakers report that such connections have doubled in the last six years, an indicator that young, educated people are placing increasing value on what their partner expects from life and how they can shape it together, i.e. that origin or religion are becoming secondary factors .14 ​​Even if the number of semi-arranged marriages in the more traditional segments of the population were to increase rapidly in the next few decades, pure love-marriage will usually be the only and true path to happiness in Western societies will not prevail in the broad society of India. Family cohesion is too important for that, aside from the benefits of an arranged marriage, which are often overlooked. Possibly the greatest attraction is that young people are relieved of the uncertainty in choosing a life partner. Whether you look good or not, are thin or fat, simple or complicated - you can trust that your parents will find a suitable partner. While looking good is important, it does not count in the choice of a spouse as much as it does in western societies. In India, the cosmetics industry can certainly build on women's need to be beautiful; However, it cannot - as in the West - stir up fears that a woman who does not do enough for her beauty will not find a partner. But is there love in arranged marriages? Does love have to perish in favor of security, economy and other reasons of reason? In an arranged marriage the exhilaration of erotic passion may not materialize, but the dream of love does not die out. Rather, it is often a "quieter affair" without the frenzy of desire that marks the time of courtship and the beginning of a marriage in the West. If the couple gets along well with each other, the mood is more like a happy community in which mutual erotic desire can gently set in - not necessarily immediately after the marriage, sometimes not until years later. Of course, there are objective conditions for the likelihood that a couple will fall in love after marriage. Arranged marriages work best - and perhaps only - when the partners were sexually segregated in their youth and when the weddings take place before the two have an opportunity to compare a range of possible partners. With the exception of a narrow upper class, these conditions are still widely valid for the majority of Indian society to this day. The hormonal pressures of youth and the lack of experience with the opposite sex are almost an assurance that a young person is biologically and emotionally ready to fall in love if the marriage partner is even reasonably acceptable.15 In all social classes in India Marriage is celebrated as the central event in a person's life, so it is not surprising that marriage and fertility are the most important building blocks of female identity. «What does the happiness of a marriage depend on? Of the fertility of women, of course ”, 16 comments a Brahmanic astrologer from South India who, like many Indians, measures a marriage less by fulfilling sexuality and the intimacy of the partner, but by whether a woman can give birth. "A woman can only call herself a woman after she has had children," comments the father of a young Durga-Vahini * activist (a widespread Hindu fundamentalist organization) who does not want to marry.17 The non-Brahmin castes in Aruloor (Tamil Nadu) do not prepare the usual birth horoscope for girls for comparing the horoscopes of potential marriage partners, but rather a horoscope that begins with the time and date of their first menstruation18 - a reference to the fact that their childbearing ability is far more important than the time of theirs own birth. As this example shows, the perception of young marriageable women as a person continues to be of secondary importance in many communities on the subcontinent. To put the woman as the subject in the foreground - and thus to give more weight to the erotic - requires a culture that exempts sex from the obligation to procreate. Erotic playfulness as an antithesis to "purpose-related" sex in marriage has a long tradition in India. As shown in Chapter 2, the Kamasutra speaks extensively of pleasurable sex with courtesans or lovers and has dedicated one of its seven books to this topic. The courtesan, however, is the opposite of the wife; her sexuality is decoupled from motherhood and is not expected to be nurturing arrangement, love, divorce - she is the essence of feminine eroticism, a romantic figure, devoid of the honor of the wife, but nevertheless endowed with power.19 The aspect The fertility and childbearing potential in connection with an ideal marriage is also reflected in the name of the heroine Sita *, who is so popular in Indian mythology, who is regarded as the pativrata * - ideal wife: Sita means "furrow", 20 an allegory known in many cultures for the female sex and fertility. She is the heroine of Ramayana and has served as the ideal of femininity for all castes and classes for centuries. To this day, Sita is probably the most frequently cited example when it comes to defining what constitutes a “good”, virtuous (married) woman. Even if its effectiveness is fading with the young, urban generation, it is still a role model for millions of women, especially in traditional communities. A study of 1,000 men and women in Uttar Pradesh (northern India) revealed that Sita was understood by an overwhelming majority as a role model for a selection of 24 goddesses, heroines and famous historical women.21 The content of the Sita myth became sociological in a number of ways Examinations from different perspectives are discussed extensively. Sita's story is the tale of suffering of a devoted wife, who shares the eventful fate of her husband - God Rama * - full of self-sacrifice and selflessness, but who is suspected of unfaithfulness and ultimately rejected by him. The majority of urban women of the educated middle class are critical of Sita's submissiveness, as I can confirm from many conversations and interviews between 1998 and 2014 with women of various age groups. But it is deeply anchored as a cultural idiom in the psyche of Indian men and women and continues to be a role model for many conservative-minded Indians. For example, in 2013 Kailash Vijayvargia, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party *, was carried away to the remark that women who were outside the 3rd marriage46 of the Lakshmana Rekha * should not be surprised if they encounter Ravana *.22 This reference to the The great Indian epic Ramayana is understood by every Indian: Lakshmana, the brother of the god Rama, draws a circle in the dust (Lakshmana Rekha) with a stick, which Sita is not allowed to leave for her protection. When she does it anyway, she is kidnapped by the demon Ravana. After the rape of Nirbhaya in December 2012 and the subsequent protests, this well-known excerpt from the Ramayana was not accidentally used by politicians and religious figures as the most frequent example, because the story of Sita's border crossing and kidnapping reveals the alleged female complicity in male violence culturally underpin (see also Chapter 8). Religious texts such as the Ramayana, especially in their repetition of important topics and conflicts, can provide information about socio-cultural paradigms, since ideas, ideals and models of a culture are often significantly shaped by the powerful (and thus socially influential) groups. Even if religious writings like the Ramayana are not seen as a mirror of social reality, they shape the perception and identity of the vast majority of Indian women and men. It is the equation of steadfast "husband worship" with "ideal worship of God" that makes Sita a symbol of immeasurable strength and ability to suffer. The majority of Indian wives, especially the poorer classes, recognize themselves in this role - women who have endured violent or otherwise bad marriages for decades. In the perception of conservative women and men, Sita has format and character because of her steadfastness - qualities that from a liberal perspective she is downright lacking. This attitude is illustrated with an example: Muli, a Dalit * of the Bauri caste of a small village in Orissa (northeast India), who lives with his wife in a loveless marriage and regularly goes to prostitutes, connects their sacrificial arrangement, love , Divorce riding unquestionably with her (inner) strength: «My wife works very hard and is definitely stronger than me. She usually earns more than I do. She can cut the rice plants faster and better than the men, and hardly anyone can keep up with her when she works on the road construction. She does not like to eat without having earned her wages. She becomes impatient when she has to spend her time at leisure. ”23 A woman gains respect and respect in the eyes of men if she fulfills her role without complaint, regardless of whether she is treated well or badly in marriage for it. "Women are born to suffer, you have to steel your heart," says Bandini, a box office hit in the 1960s.24 That has changed little for millions of women. The suffering, hardworking woman wins the respect of her husband and the community and in the end becomes the moral winner of the Indian gender game, which (also) endows her with power in the course of her life cycle (see Chapter 5). This dynamic runs through rich and poor, through all castes and classes of Indian culture. In my Indian circle of friends, a well-educated academic who could easily stand on her own two feet economically would rather endure the emotional non-commitment of her husband, who regularly cheats and makes no secret of it, than to get a divorce.So she would rather pay the price of her devaluation as a subject and live in an emotionally dry marriage than apart from her unfaithful husband. The former gives her a higher social status and respect than if she were divorced and lived alone, while her husband has no reason to leave the warm family nest in which he has settled so well. This form of coexistence between married couples is more common in India, even if the number of divorces in the metropolises is increasing rapidly. The silent willingness to sacrifice and submissiveness of women is surprisingly often idealized by men of all classes and castes and often leaves them (paradoxically) feeling guilty. But this can also turn into aggression if they are devalued by their wives as weak and useless. The expression of the "ideal wife" attached to the heroine Sita is an ideologically charged term: pativrata is the name for a virtuous wife who has taken a vow (vrat) for her husband (pati ).25 This suggests that that the hierarchical inequality between husband and wife in the Indian social order has a long, culturally anchored history. The patriarchal family structures are still valid in much of India, especially in rural areas. However, it must be noted at this point that the divergent communities of the Indian subcontinent have produced the most varied forms of patriarchal structures; one should therefore be careful about generalizing Brahmanic values, which also include the ideal of the pativrata. Marital relationships of the Sema Nagas (Nagarland, Northeast India), for example, are based on free choice of partner, a girl there is never married against her will.26 In parts of Ladakh (Himalayas, North India) polyandry has ruled for centuries - there women could live with several husbands (not vice versa). But what makes an ideal wife (pativrata) in the dominant culture of Brahmanic Hinduism? She is expected to serve her husband like a god, so that her devotion will favor his happiness and long life. Qualities such as gentleness, patience, obedience and the withdrawal of personal needs are expected of her as well as sexual chastity, submission and loyalty. With this idealistic idea of ​​an obedient wife, however, it should not be underestimated that the cultural paradigm of pativrata, which sacrifices itself for the benefit of her family, not only places the wife in an indissolubly dependent relationship with her husband, but that the husband - in his possibilities Coping successfully with life - arrangement, love, divorce just as much depends on the benevolence of one's wife. As a good pativrata, she has the power (shakti) to protect her husband, but if she does not keep this vow, she can also weaken and ruin him. The idea (ideally) gives women a powerful position, 27 and she knows that. Although this is not a statement about power relations in social reality, it points to a cultural understanding that has far-reaching consequences for the gender relationship: namely that of the inner strong woman capable of suffering and the fragile, strong man on the outside. The topic of male weakness is also taken up in many ways in the popular Sita legend. Sita’s husband Rama is portrayed as a divine hero, but in his doubts about Sita’s chastity he is characterized as emotionally weak, suspicious and jealous at the same time.28 The right to equality - as a claim to equal rights - exists, as already indicated, in the Hindu worldview Not. The idea that roles and duties are assigned to every being according to their dharma * leaves little room in cultural thinking for concepts of equality, even if these are legally anchored in India's constitution and are demanded by young women of the rising classes. The different characteristics of men and women are seen as a natural consequence of the biological sex body. For example, the prevailing idea among many Indians is that women are not more tolerant and capable of suffering than men because of social conditions or their socialization, but because they are women. An assignment of gender-specific qualities legitimizes role assignments in the form of social duties and virtues, which are already expressed in the Brahmanic-Hindu understanding of dharma. Dharma thus not only comprises a life ritualized according to (religious) norms, but actually structures the social hierarchies. There is the dharma of women (stridharma), the dharma of animals (pashu- 3. Ehe50 dharma), the personal dharma (svadharma), the extended family dharma (kuladharma), etc. According to this idea, only those who can hope for salvation are theirs dharma fulfills - and thus follows the socially determined role models. However, social reality, as well as a multitude of mythological stories, shows that such established “dharmic rules” are always embedded in the context of the Hindu world of ideas and are therefore “negotiable”. I would like to illustrate this with the story of Subhru, who negotiates her marriage in the role as an ascetic, which is not intended for women, in order to be able to be redeemed. With lifelong practice of the most difficult ascetic discipline (tapas *), Subhru grew old and weak and decided to step out of life. She was convinced that she would be redeemed, but Narada *, the mediator between heaven and earth, gave her to understand that no unmarried woman could achieve this. So Subhru offered to transfer half of her ascetic merits to whoever was willing to marry her. Galavi married her for one night and thus gave her access to “heaven” .29 The high acceptance of gender-specific role assignments on the one hand and the possibility of a positive identity with Hindu models on the other, in which women not only suffer the injustice of men but each other at the same time Being able to feel as strong inside and superior to them enables them not always to feel social inequality as such. Even where they perceive gender discrimination, they usually do not question the system. It is easy to overlook the fact that women often have a significant amount of control over their husbands. This can also be seen in the smallest “niches” that they create for themselves: For example, a large number of women in rural areas and in the lower classes manage and dispose of the money their husbands earn. Without downplaying the everyday oppression and violence that millions of women are exposed to, what has to be said about Arrangement, Love, Divorce here is that India may be the only country where married, oppressed men organize in groups. This phenomenon of rebellious husbands is not an isolated case; such groups have increasingly formed in the last twenty years, among other things because the good legal situation for the protection of women is also abused by them: Quite a few men are blackmailed and threatened or wrongly by their wives indicted.30 Not only women, but men too, are expected to put their individual desires and needs aside in favor of their family and marriage. Ashok Row Kavi, a well-known gay activist, said that when he was young and his family pressured him to get married, it broke out in him that he loved to fuck men. "I don't care if you fuck elephants or crocodiles," snapped his aunt offended, "why can't you get married?" 31 Getting married and fathering offspring, no matter what sexual inclinations or other interests one has, is in in the imagination of many Indians, an obligation to parents and to the social group. The experience of an exclusive love relationship between two people, in which tenderness, eroticism and human depth form the foundation, is desirable, but not necessary. In the poorer classes of India, it is enough for many women if the man does not drink and does not hit them. A lack of intimacy with the partner in such unrelated marriages, which can also be found in other social classes, is not infrequently compensated for by religious and spiritual practice, and many women tend to overload their children, especially sons, with their emotional need. Put simply, this closes the cycle again, i. H. the (emotionally) overwhelmed sons seek a certain distance from their future partners in order to switch off the "all-devouring mother", while the partners react with frustration to the lack of intimacy and ultimately shift their needs to other objects of love such as gods and sons. One could continue with a multitude of divergent examples, in which it becomes clear that intimacy in marriage in the Indian understanding is hoped for, but not necessarily expected. The central, identity-creating role as parents is, however, pursued with a great sense of duty. This is one of the reasons why dysfunctional marriages are divorced much less often than in more individualized societies such as Northern Europe or America. India is still one of the countries in which, statistically speaking, barely more than 1% of all marriages are divorced32 (in almost all western countries it is half of all marriages, in Germany 49%). Divorce rates among the Indian middle class are increasing - in Delhi they are said to have doubled between 2006 and 201133 - but mainly in the cities.In 1980 there were only 2 courts in Delhi that dealt with divorce issues - today there are 16.34. While divorce was a taboo in the past that was only enforced in the last decade, the attitude has become more common among the younger, professionally successful generation changed: Better to get divorced than live in a bad marriage, is her credo.35 How new this attitude towards divorce and possible remarriage is is expressed in the advertising clip of a jewelry chain that presented their jewelry for the first time in 2013 with a video. second marriage »marketed. What would not attract any attention in Europe was applauded as breaking a taboo in India.36 Most of today's divorce-seeking couples live in major Indian cities, they are between 25 and 35 years old, economically independent and both partners are employed. Two thirds of the divorce petitions are filed by men, either because their wives cheated or the problems with the parents (of the husband) seemed insoluble.37 Even if the rising divorce rate is a phenomenon of the 53 arrangement, love, divorce in big cities, separations are in the country and more common in the poorer segments of society than the statistics would lead us to believe, simply because marriages are seldom legally dissolved there and thus not recorded statistically. Many women in rural and urban slums who have been abandoned or abandoned their husbands live in “wild marriages” with a second or third husband. Although women are morally more strongly condemned than men for separation or divorce, Shobhita Jain observed in her study of tea pickers in Assam that separations there almost exclusively emanate from women. Usually they are put under severe pressure by their community for this and are accused of having no affection (mamta) for husbands and children, even if alcohol and violence were actually the reasons for the separation.38 As our housekeeper, who out comes from a traditional village in Uttaranchal (northern India), wanted to legally dissolve his unhappy marriage a few years ago (he had been separated from his wife for years), the women of the village gathered and exposed him with drums and jokes. The judge in the nearest small town also rejected his request, saying what this nonsense was supposed to be about. The man was forced to withdraw his divorce request. The statistic that only 1% of all marriages in India are divorced does not reflect the social reality, because many more married couples live separately from one another, also in rural areas. Added to this are the involuntary separations of millions of men who emigrate from poor states to more affluent areas in order to earn a living for their families who have stayed behind in the village. Most of the time, they only see their wives and children once a year. Basically, Indian women as well as men are prepared to tolerate and endure far more in a marriage, to get through marital crises together or to live side by side than couples in Western societies. For many women who have been brought up to endure their 3rd marriage54 fate, violence in a marriage is rarely a reason for separation. Women often suffer more because in a dysfunctional marriage they have fewer options to live in an alternative way. Also, the children (unlike in Germany) are often given to the man, not to the woman, and divorce results in a loss of status for women, which men do not experience in this form. "This is our life, we have to cope with it," say women, aware of how vulnerable they are to the demands placed on them on behalf of family and kin.39 In Tamil Nadu there is the term sondam sudum - «Relationship is burning». The unquestioned willingness to sacrifice oneself for the husband, the children and the extended family, that is, to fit into “circumstances”, regardless of how much it demands of them as a person, is imparted to girls and young women early on and runs through all social classes . Even if the rapid social change in India's metropolises leads to more open attitudes towards alternative life contexts, independent women have different leeway to reflect and demand their own needs, and the focus shifts from the extended family to the couple and their wishes, marriage becomes a reality continues to be valued as the only form of coexistence that gives a couple social acceptance and status. Marriage, family and the procreation of children are and will remain a central building block in the identity of Indian men and women, which turns all other ideas about life, desires and ambitions into secondary factors.