Bihar girls get tough, reject unsuitable grooms(Feature)April 30th, 2008 - 1:19 pm ICT by admin
By Imran Khan
Patna, April 30 (IANS) When Pushpa Kumari, in her early 20s, found the courage to spurn a mentally challenged man chosen to be her husband, she was not alone. In rural Bihar, where the social scales are tilted heavily against women, over half a dozen such cases have been reported in the past week of brides refusing to marry unsuitable grooms who were illiterate, deaf or unemployed. Times seem to have changed for women, with several schemes being launched for their empowerment by the state and central governments.
Pushpa, who resides at Hathi Tola near Maner, about 25 km from Patna, refused to marry Ranjit Kumar last Thursday after she noticed his unusual behaviour and complained to her father Ashok Rai and other family members.
“After my father inquired and found him to be mentally challenged, I simply refused to marry him because it was a matter of life for me,” a soft spoken Pushpa, who is proud of her decision, told IANS.
What hurt her was the fact that her parents were told the groom was healthy. “I saved myself and my family from more trouble,” she said.
She is happy that not only her family but villagers too supported her. “After I refused to marry him, villagers asked the groom and his family members to return the dowry items,” said Pushpa. She has become a household name in neighbouring villages.
She has now decided to marry a suitable boy only after interacting with him before the wedding.
In another case, a bridegroom returned empty-handed in Gopalganj district, about 250 km from here, after the bride refused to marry him. Poonam Kumari (name changed), a 19-year-old college student, refused to marry the groom when she was informed by her friends that he was not only unemployed but was ugly too.
“Some of her friends were shocked when the groom was unable to respond to their queries. Soon they informed her and she refused to marry him,” Surendra Singh, a villager, said.
In another case, Manju Lata stunned everybody when she refused to wed Sunday after she discovered that the groom was illiterate and not suitable as a life partner. She was a resident of Jagtauli village in Gopalganj district.
Nisha Kumari of Mirhata village in Siwan district, about 150 km from here, walked off even though half the marriage had been solemnised as per Hindu rituals. Nisha bolted after she found out that the groom was deaf and not fit for her.
“She simply walked away from the sacred fire,” said a close relative.
There are several such cases across the state that go unreported. In rural Bihar, hundreds of weddings take place in the traditional marriage season known as ‘Lagan’, which is on now.
Till a few years ago it was rare for a woman to spurn a groom chosen for her. In fact the reverse was the rule, as it was the groom or his parents who would often refuse marriage on grounds like inadequate dowry or a bride’s unfair complexion.
Evidently, many women are now seeking marriage on their own terms. It seems to have been made possible by measures initiated for women’s empowerment.
Women in Bihar lag far behind men in terms of all human development indicators. The gender ratio was 921 women against 1,000 men. The female population is 39.7 million as against 43.2 million males. The women’s literacy rate is just over half of men.