“When are you going to start saving? Don’t forget there’s a girl growing up in the house..”, countless wives have been reminding their husbands in Indian households and sometimes on TV screens. Parents in the country place too much emphasis on marriage. And if you’re a girl, this gets doubled. The moment the doctor announces the gender, the planning starts, the saving starts. And more importantly, the worrying.
Because of the pervasive dowry system that devours most families by attaching itself to destructive notions of what constitute status, honor and respect, this directly affects the family’s management of financial resources and how girls are brought up. An unmarried daughter becomes a burden to be removed which in turn subjects her to differential treatment. Giving your daughter’s marriage utmost importance means everything you do for her is ultimately influenced by this concern. You either don’t educate her beyond a basic level because you don’t have enough money to spend on both (and clearly you’ve decided marriage is to be given the bigger priority), or you educate her (often according to your own wishes rather than hers) with the prospect of fetching a well qualified groom so that she can be ‘sent off’ to a ‘respectable’ home.