"Why do girls have to leave their home after marriage?"

"Why do girls have to leave their home after marriage?"

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Sushmitha Rao started this petition to Ministry of Woman and Child Development and

Why do only women have to move to their husband’s house after marriage?

Marriage — a union of two people who want to spend their lives together — is a beautiful journey. However, our patriarchal society has completely twisted this beautiful and equal concept into a male-dominated, male-led relationship. Therefore, although both husband and wife are marrying each other, only the wife is expected to leave her home and move into her husband’s house, wherever that may be. She is expected to leave behind her parents and start living with her husband and even his family. And if she has to move cities, she also has to leave behind her work, her friends and her family, just to move to her husband’s place.

What is the husband expected to do? Nothing! Just get married! He will continue living wherever he wants to, in whichever city he is in. Only his wife will have to leave everything and move. The girl is literally uprooted from her existence and expected to start a completely new life. When she gets married, she has to pack up her entire life’s possessions and move to her husband’s place. People start referring to her original home as her “mother’s home” and suddenly her husband’s house is called her home. Why? It doesn’t make sense to me. When two people are getting into the partnership of marriage, it should indeed be an equal partnership. Both partners should have the choice to discuss where they would like to live. But in Indian society, the girl is never given this choice. It doesn’t even occur to people that she might want to choose where she wants to live.

As a result, girls of “marriageable age” never know what their future is going to be like. Where they will be. What they will be able to do. I’ve heard my friends hoping that they find a guy from ABC place, and not from XYZ because they don’t want to move to XYZ. One of my colleagues was unable to decide her career path because she didn’t know where she would be after marriage. Why should we put girls through all this? Under the garb of marriage and tradition, we have robbed away their autonomy over their own lives. The right to live is one of the most fundamental rights one has. Yet, we don’t let girls decide where they want to live (and in some cases, also with whom). 

It’s also unfair to separate a daughter from her parents just because she is getting married. A society that cares so little about the bond between a daughter and her parents, cares extra about a son-parent relationship. Any suggestion of the son moving out is shot down by- “how can we separate the son from his parents?” Girls who wish to live separately and not with in-laws are judged for depriving the parents of their son. By this logic, we should judge EVERY single husband who married his wife and made her move to his place. Because every husband separates the daughter from her parents. 

Does the husband ever move to the wife’s place? No. Does he go stay at the wife’s place? Rarely. I have heard girls say “My husband is very understanding, he said I can go to my parent’s place as often as I want.” Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is extremely problematic. First, he is expecting his wife to move out of her home and into his. Second, why does she need anyone’s permission or acceptance to go live with her parents or anywhere she likes? Third, He never goes and lives with her parents. He only “visits” for dinners. In fact, I’ve noticed many husbands find it unnecessary or even burdensome to go live with the wife’s family and get to know them as intimately as they expect their wives to know their family.

This needs to S-T-O-P. We have to realise that it is NOT normal to expect only ONE partner (by default, the girl) to give up everything and move to the other partner’s place. Choice of residence cannot be given to the only partner and completely taken away from the other. It’s one of the most unequal practices in a marriage.

Where the couple wishes to live should be a matter of discussion and mutual agreement. It cannot by default be the husband’s place/city. So where do you want to live? YOU decide! Marriage or no marriage, but especially in a marriage! Stand up for yourself and what you want, and you will find that things can always be worked out differently. Of course, if you DON’T speak up, no one can help you, because no one will even know what you want! The choice is always yours- the choice to stand up for yourself, and hopefully, the choice of where you want to live!

As women, we are forced to leave our home after a certain age. Why is it mandatory to do so? Why cant it be reversed? As women we can do all the things that men do, Why can't men do this?

If you’re a girl reading this, I would love to know your thoughts. Did you think about these things with respect to marriage? If you’re not married yet, do similar uncertainties about the future cross your mind?

And if you’re a guy reading this, I hope you think about your wife/future wife and ask her what she wants. Ask your wife, if given a free choice, where would she have wanted to live? And please tell her how much you appreciate the silent sacrifices made by her!

Right to Live with Dignity and Respect
A wife has the legal authority to live with proper dignity and self-respect with her in-laws. She also has the right to have the same lifestyle that her husband’s and in-laws have. This legal right provides married woman independence after marriage. The married woman also has the right to voice out against any physical or mental torture.

The Supreme Court said, “A daughter-in-law is to be treated as a member of the family with warmth and affection and not as a stranger with respectable and ignoble indifference. She should not be treated as a housemaid. No impression should be given that she can be thrown out of her matrimonial home at any time. The manner in which sometimes the bride is treated in many a home by the husband, in-law and the relatives creates a feeling of emotional numbness in society.”

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