The world of matrimony and match making is still deeply sexist, casteist and classist in Kashmir
By Raees Mohammad
A friend recently told me about this Kashmiri matrimonial app eManzimyoor that has been developed by a US-based Company Musalleen. I was told that the app is a digital version of Kashur manzimyoor and supposedly takes into consideration the local culture and traditions of Kashmir. Out of curiosity to know more about the app, I signed up on the app. First I was asked to make a profile and give some basic information about myself. It was followed by questions on the kind of match I was looking for. One of the mandatory options that was required to be filled while making my profile was that of my “Family name” (surname). After completing the signup process, I started looking for matches. Unfortunately, the feed only gave me other people’s surnames. They were people without names and looked like Ms. Syed, Ms. Mir or Ms. Bhat. The surname was accompanied by brief information about them and the kind of partner they were looking for. On the basis of this little information and the surname, you have to decide to send a request to the other person so that you can get more information about them. Any further information, including the name of one person, is revealed to another person in steps after they have matched by sending and accepting the requests.
This concept of “Family name” introduced in the app seeks to erase the individuality of those who are being matched. It is based on the assumption that marriage is a familial obligation and it is not just the two individuals who marry but the larger community also has a role to play. The first thing after downloading the app is to register and verify your mobile number. It is followed by an option “This Account is for?” under which it gives ‘son, brother, sister, daughter, myself and other’ options. “Son” is the default option while “myself” is the second last option followed by the “other”. Such options have been clearly crafted to provide for a family-friendly app. A look at the images that accompany the app on the Google Play Store further endorses the point that the app promotes the marriage of families over individuals. In one of the images titled “ask any questions you may have”, there is a screenshot of two parents messaging each other. One parent right after saying that his daughter is a teacher asks, “Where is ‘your family’ from?” The parent on the other end replies, “My family is from … area of Kashmir” The obsession of the makers of this app with family can be gauged by this screenshot also. Just two messages discussing the profession of their children and they right away come to their families. Please note that there is a clear emphasis on “my family” and “your family”.
The app in question has been developed by a US-based company that has an offshore office in Kashmir. It is supposed to take care of the ground realities of Kashmiri matchmaking but no one expects a US-based software company to develop an app entirely based on “family” and “family name” (caste system). The app, in the guise of preserving Kashmiri culture, protecting the “privacy and integrity” of the Kashmiri community and reflecting the ground realities of matchmaking in Kashmir does a great disservice to the power of the internet and software in transcending caste barriers in making matches. While there is no gainsaying the fact that matchmaking in Kashmir does involve casteism to some extent but if eManzimyoor wants to be innovative, it will have to stop perpetuating casteism. Right now, given the American connection and all the features of the eManzimyoor app, it can be said that the app is the ‘Sima Aunty’ of Kashmir matchmaking.
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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