Why put all burden on girls' parents?

Why put all burden on girls' parents?

Why are the ‘Lakshmis’ of India let down by the very people who revere the goddess?

Why are the girl children not wanted in our country?  Is it that our age-old customs and traditions are so anti-woman that the mothers and fathers of India do not want their daughters to be brought up in this skewed nation of ours? Is there some truth in the contention that girls are what one can consider a ‘double trouble’? 

 All things being equal, the expenses on both boys and girls are equal right from their nappies and baby food to education.  Gone are the days when the boys were given preference in the matter of food, clothing and shelter.  Both are given equal opportunity as far as materialistic considerations are concerned in a reasonably affluent and affluent family. The schooling provided is the same. Most times both siblings of different sexes attend the same school making the fee structure the same. Enough convenience in the form of tuitions, study time, study room is provided so that both can excel in their academics. Both are provided with many comforts and pocket money. Both of them are asked to do as little chores as possible in the present environment. Both are given equal opportunity for them to pursue their higher education.   As statistics prove girls do excel in exams and more often than not they manage to get admission in premier institution and their dreams are fulfilled. They can become engineers, doctors, chartered accountants, MBA or the like as per their wishes. They get into a good job, maybe in campus placement and pursue the career of their choice. So far; so well!

At a raw end

All is fine at the time of peace. Once the marriage is finalised, the equation changes. The system of giving and taking dowry or other expensive gifts is still present in most communities that parents of a girl child find themselves at a raw end in a deal. There is a kind of one up-man-ship as far as finalising an alliance for your son and conducting the marriage in style is concerned. The crux of the matter is, be it an arranged or a love marriage the entire marriage expenses are borne by the girl’s side. Even the advertisement plays to this tune of having a tag line, ‘need to save for your daughter’s marriage.’    Why is it so? All things being equal right from birth, why should the equation change now?  I enquired of many a friend belonging to different communities; all have the same to say. Yes, there are a few, practically a handful of enlightened people who accept that it takes two to marry and as their son too is involved they offer to share in the expenses, but this is an exception rather than a rule.

This scenario is very unfair to parents of only girls. We are in the midst of small family norm. Many a household has only two girls. The parents spend not only on their education but have to shell out quite a few lakhs on the marriage too. At the end of it, they have practically no savings and are forced to live a life of austerity. On the other hand, parents of one or two boys not only save on this expense but also receive gifts for not spending!  So right from the start of a married life the odds are against the girls.

Let’s come to the history of how this practice became prevalent.  Girls were not educated in the earlier times, neither were they given a share in the ancestral property. So, to give them a good start in life they were married off in style with good amount of presents and dowry so that they can have a modicum of prestige and a fall back in case of necessity. All this has obviously changed. Girls now get education, a share in the property and their own income. So it just does not make sense when the marriage expenses are still considered to be the prerogative of the bride’s side.

Moreover, the expenses do not end with just the marriage. The onus for a major chunk in expenses for myriad functions like ‘grihapravesham’( house warming) , the seemantham,( baby shower)  the delivery of the child and many more is still with the girl’s family.  Why, in certain communities even the death of the boy’s parents constitutes a major expense to the girls’ side!

All the above and more make the discrimination of girl child rampant in our society. We forget the love, affection, care and the beauty the same gender brings to our lives but remember only the fact that she is ‘paraya dhan’ or rather that her responsibility solely lies with her marital home and she is not the one to take care of her parents in her old age.

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