It took us a 12 hours train ride to get from Jaipur to Jaisalmer, we shared our booth with a jewelry merchants family from the Jaisalmer Fort.
The proud father of the family told us they’re coming back from visiting his daughter who’s studying at the Jaipur college. He was well spoken in English and perfect manners.
He asked if we were married, and since we’re still not 100% sure on how to handle gay issues in India, and had 12 hours more to share, the answer was “nope”. I’ll leave that for another post.
He told us a joke: “Hell is to have an American car, a German wife and an Indian salary. Heaven is to have an American salary, German car and an Indian wife.” The wife smirked.
Then he became quite open with us, he boasted about the good relationship he had with his wife, a marriage arranged about 30 years ago: never a fight, never compains:”women were brought up to be submissive since an early age, to accomodate and serve. The day their marriage is arranged, they will move into the husband’s house and compromise, this way is easier for them.”
He kept going on on how “times have changed, and now my daughters are not as complying as their mother, they want a career, fulfill themselves, travel, but at the end, it’s the parents job to find a good husband for her”.
I felt wretched, there was this intelligent man in front of me, proud of his daugher’s accomplishments and at the same time undermining them by determining who her future husband will be. There are even websites for parents-meet-boys.
Today 70% percent of Indias marriages are still prearranged.
Women are almost not to be seen in the streets and markets. Rapes and abuses are too common and female foeticide (abortion) is extremely high, in some of the northern states there’s up to 115 boys to 100 girls.
The feminist revolution has skipped India so far, but there’s progress to be seen: reserved seats/areas/queues in public places, rapists convictions and legislation.
*During the whole conversation the merchants wife didn’t utter a word, the young daughter although shy, spoke perfect English and didn’t hesitate to argue with the male steward to get us more blankets: The winter of discontent. 😉
For deeper and way more professional info read: Women in India: Role and Status