Bareilly/Kanpur/Varanasi: From across the badlands of Uttar Pradesh in India, otherwise in the news for rampant violence against women and dowry-related deaths, a new positive trend is on the rise. A series of young women have been asserting themselves, refusing to be cheated or pushed into marriages with unfit men.
Hindustan Times reports that in Varanasi last month, a minor girl escaped a forced underage marriage when she called the police with the groom’s party at her door. The authorities arrived after getting a call from the reluctant bride and stopped the marriage, sending the girl to a child welfare committee.
In yet another case, a Dalit girl, Shakuntala Devi, refused to tie the knot with an ill-matched groom, Vipin, in Kanpur Dehat. Shakuntala’s relatives and friends noticed a lump on his back and that he had a problem opening his mouth. They told her about the groom’s problems. When she confronted Vipin she also found that he was drunk and without thinking twice, Shakuntala announced she was calling off the wedding.
Despite requests from her family as well as the grooms side, Shakuntala put her foot down and the two sides agreed to return all the things that they had exchanged in prenuptial ceremonies and the groom went home single.
In Kanpur, minutes before solemnising her wedding vows, Lavli Kushwaha discovered to her horror that the man she was about to exchange garlands with was not the one she had agreed to marry it was his illiterate elder brother, instead. The prenuptial ceremony was already complete by then, but she did not hesitate and walked out of the wedding, backed by her family and relatives.
The bride’s father revealed that the man they had matched Lavli with, Sonu, was replaced with his brother Ram Karan but the groom’s family disputed this, saying Sonu was already married.
These are only some of a rising group of brave young women across Uttar Pradesh that have been taking a strong stand against mismatched marriages in a state infamous for misogyny and deep rooted patriarchy.
Some of these botched weddings have reportedly been settled amicably, as was the case last Friday, 1 May, in Bareilly’s Aonla, where the bride discovered during the wedding rituals that her husband-to-be had very poor eyesight.
She noticed the groom kept missing the mark when asked to offer water to the deities and got up to tell her mother she could not tie the knot. As news spread, members of the groom’s family tried to convince the girl that the boy’s eyesight was alright but it soon came to light that the bride had been deliberately left in the dark about his problem. The groom then returned home unwed with the two sides sitting down amicably and deciding to share the expenses of the botched wedding.
The report says, such incidents are reported across religions as educated women refuse to compromise on their husbands and listen to the diktat of their family, rejecting obscene dowry demands.
For instance, Gulshan Khan, an educated Muslim woman in Kanpur, refused to marry an illiterate carpenter who demanded a dowry of Rs 1.5 lakh in cash and electronic gadgets. She went ahead and filed a police complaint against the man.
Mohammad Nazir Ahmad- the prospective groom, had reportedly been engaged to Gulshan for a good five years, during which time she worked hard on her education and earned two post-graduate degrees. Ahmed on the other hand remained illiterate, while still demanding and taking Rs 50,000 in cash and a motorcycle from the girls family.
The father of the girl- Mukhtar Ahmad Warsi, a septuagenarian had reportedly requested Ahmad’s family to accept his educated daughter without any dowry and said his family was already impoverished. He had gone so far as to put his turban, a sign of a man’s honour, at the feet of the groom’s father requesting that they dont demand a dowry. When Gulshan learnt about all this, she decided enough was enough and put her foot down, rejecting the match and went to the police.
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