“A divorced daughter is better than a dead daughter”.
You may have heard of this phrase previously but it cannot be stressed enough in current times. Living in 2020, we still come across tragic news of women resorting to suicide due to failed marriage or continuing to bear physical abuse from in laws or husband that ends in their murder.
In most of these incidences, despite knowing that this is not going to end well if she doesn’t escape in time, these women continue to face the ill effects of a bad marriage, ultimately losing their lives.
Why don’t they speak up and seek support of their parents?
One of the major reasons here is the burden of maintaining a certain societal status of her family. It is no news to anyone that parents often hesitate in accepting the fact that their daughter wishes for a divorce. They convince and in some cases force their rattled daughters to just accept her ‘destiny’ instead of being her staunchest support.
The gossips around their daughter’s divorce, acceptability of her new marital status in the society and a blur future exacerbates the situation, pushing them to overlook the right thing in these cases. It also raises questions on a woman’s character and her upbringing, which in turn is believed to bring shame to her family.
Is it really her destiny that she should accept?
Destiny is formed by one’s actions. There is no logic in choosing to stay rather than freeing yourselves from the shackles of pain and torture, whether mental or physical.
Still the families of girls follow the illogical route to avoid the taboo of divorce on their daughter. And if you think that this exists only in a handful of countries in Asia like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other gulf countries, you need to widen your knowledge.
There have been stories of women from Lebanon, China and many African countries who fear being called ‘used’ or ‘second hand’ once they break their marriage. Chile legalized divorce only in 2004 while Philippines is still fighting to have divorce legalized.
There is a Cantonese saying – “For men, do not ever choose the wrong career. For women, do not ever marry the wrong man”. In essence, if the marriage isn’t going well, the onus is on woman who chose the wrong husband and thus she needs to pay for her mistake.
What is the option then?
The biggest difference between women from eastern and western world is in their education and financial independence. When daughters are independent and have the knowledge and skills to take care of them financially, it eases the decision of parting ways in case of an abusive marriage.
This brings the responsibility back to their families, who in turn should ensure to educate their daughters and tell them – “no matter what, we will support you”. It is high time that we teach women to value themselves and prioritize their own happiness.
The patriarchal roots of the traditions have for the longest time coerced parents into knowingly pushing their daughters in a marriage that is no less than hell.
Welcoming back the daughter from a failed marriage
Daughters have been interchangeably considered a liability and a married daughter returning to her maternal home has thus been seen a liability returning. All these notions are born out of male chauvinist set ups that have existed in our societies blinding our conscience and rationality.
The male privilege in the institution of marriage can be eliminated only if our daughters get as much support in case of a broken marriage as our sons. Marriage is a bond between two equals and thus none of them deserves to abuse another in any way. Each of them should be free to walk away instead of suffocating themselves to death.
It is not only parents of the girls who need to change, we as a society also need to ‘normalize’ divorces and stop treating them as a scandal in one’s life. Men need to treat divorced women with respect and stop character assassinating them for a failed marriage.
As the saying goes, be the change you wish to see, we all need to do our part in bringing open mindedness towards divorce.
This article is being published on a special request from an anonymous reader who has also shared a beautiful poem:
I thought I was finally free,
But here I am, between devil and deep sea.
My heart is broken, soul shattered,
My choice, my wishes never mattered.
You won’t think, I gave my best,
Until I put myself to rest.
Forever gone from your life,
Papa, I tried to be best wife.
I gathered the courage to say all this,
After I realized I can’t be his.
Who hurts me and shows no respect,
This ain’t no lie but a fact.
I can’t be here anymore,
Please accept me to your abode.
Failed in marriage, not in life,
I want to live, rise and shine.