Note: This blog is written as an inspiration from the response of an anonymous Indian woman to a similar question on Quora.
I have taken a slightly different approach to her brilliant take on societal taboo of dating in India, slut shaming, and general perception towards a woman’s sexuality.
First and foremost, dating an Indian woman is not for the faint of heart. I do not mean that based on how likely an Indian woman will accept a date.
Agreeing to a date can be a highly subjective assessment for any gender and it can stem from one’s own set of emotional baggage and preconceived notions. For Indian women, however, there may be other distinct expectations such as witty critiques of masala Bollywood cinema, general love of masala in Indian food, and inside jokes dependent on using any of the multiple languages spoken in India. Ok, those are all my biased expectations 🙂
For the sake of this post, I will ignore such trivialities.
Let me outline other significant reasons why dating an Indian woman is no easy task, particularly in India.
How good is your CV?
I am not talking about the CV that lists out your esteemed qualifications, though they are important to ascertain that both are qualified enough to support themselves and pay their taxes on time.
I am talking about a different kind of CV – Caste Viability.
It will take, perhaps, one or two more generations of bright minds to fully rid us of this wretched mentality of matching castes to confirm compatibility.
Typically, close-minded folks reserve this discussion of castes for marriage but it may surface as early as the dating stage. Even if both partners are intelligent enough not to pay attention to such man-made divisions of caste and religion, their parents or grandparents may still be brainwashed.
Even if you clear the hurdle of caste, you may still be interrogated with other questions about your rashee (zodiac sign), gotra (descendants from some unknown male ancestor), astrology (tracing movement of planetary objects based on your birth chart that defies science) and zoology (the number of buffaloes that reside in your ancestral village).
Ok, the last one is not real.
Given all these ridiculous factors that need to be fulfilled down the lane, you may as well date the buffalo.
Of Sex & Ratios
The first requirement to dating a woman is that a woman be available. Even in a populous country like India, you are still plagued with such an issue. The culprit here is rooted in demography.
Barring the state of Kerala and Union Territory of Pondicherry, the sex ratio is skewed to favor the man in every other state of India from years of sex selective abortions and female infanticides. (Kerala and Pondicherry have their own set of grievances of sexual assault and rape, as does every other city of the world.) Frankly speaking, you have a lot more men than women in most of India.
Even if you are so fortunate to find a woman, chances are that she is already married from family pressure; or resides in a home where dating before marriage is prohibited because it can malign the family’s ‘sabhyata’; or is so overwhelmed by the slut shaming she receives for even being seen in public with a man that she is turned off by the concept itself, thereby reducing your dating pool even further.
And don’t be surprised that some of the most educated and respected professionals still carry this mentality about women.
Here is one Indian man’s response to an article showing outrage against a self-proclaimed “moral policing” group thrashing girls and raiding a normal party organized in Mangalore.
Now that I briefly talked about sex ratios, let’s discuss a byproduct of that – sexual trafficking.
The significant disparity in the male to female population leads to hundreds of young women and girls being bought and sold for marriage to men in states where they cannot find a bride. Even more women from distraught and impoverished backgrounds are trafficked and forced into prostitution to appease the sexual needs of these “excess” men who freely treat their victims as commodities to use and abuse at their free will. This scenario is true for many countries with patriarchal roots and poor sex ratios such as China and Pakistan. However, pimps with their dark and secret networks abduct women and children in developed nations just as well. So as long as there is demand, trafficking will continue.
Women, too, are responsible for this fate of other women as human trafficking reports indicate that quite a number of brothel owners are dominant matriarchs who will go to great lengths to silence and even kill the outspoken women to continue the stream of money. However, these criminals need not go to such great lengths because the women in bondage are coerced to sleep with hundreds of men every week, and more often than not, their customers refuse to wear condoms. Thus, most women die before the age of 30 from poor nutrition, physical and mental torture, and most notably, AIDS. At times, a poverty-stricken woman without any other means of employment may choose such a profession for herself to survive. This situation is relevant for many women around the world and this trend will continue so as long as individuals exploit other helpless humans and consider women inferior enough to kill her inside the womb, or outside through forced labor and slavery.
Now, I come to the next and final difficulty in dating an Indian woman – finding the so-called “good” Indian woman.
The “Good” Indian Woman
When I referenced the adjective “good” with a woman, the first thought for some nincompoops may have been chastity and submissiveness.
I will address this concept of “good Indian woman” by quoting one of my favorite books.
In the Pulitzer Prize winning book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” co-author Kristoff interviewed an Indian man who worked as a Nepal-India border intelligence officer to monitor illegal trafficking of goods. Of those people and goods he scanned, trafficked Nepali women were not one of them.
When Kristoff questions the man why he didn’t help rescue such women at the border, his response was as follows-
“There is prostitution in every country. And what’s a young man going to do from the time he turns eighteen until when he gets married at thirty?”
Kristoff- “Well, is the best solution really to kidnap Nepali girls and imprison them in Indian brothels?”
The officer’s response to this question is appalling, disgusting and a terrible mindset held by many men who think of women nothing more than objects to satisfy men’s needs.
“These girls are sacrificed so that we can have harmony in society. So that good girls can be safe.”
Not only is the woman, who is forced into prostitution, tortured without any basic human rights, but she is also ostracized from society for no fault of her own. And all this is done because men like the border police officer think that such women can be sacrificed so women from so-called “good” backgrounds won’t get raped by the same brutes turned husbands.
A Few Good Men
In contrast, take a look at gangrape survivor and acclaimed human trafficking activist, Sunitha Krishnan and her husband, Rajesh, an award-winning filmmaker and scriptwriter.
Kuduz is another example of a man who fell in love with Meena, a survivor of sexual trafficking. Manooj, a cruel relative of the brothel owner who enslaved Meena, was beating her profusely when she fled for her life and Kuduz, a local of the town, saved her life. An organization called Apne Aap Worldwide helped Meena rescue her two children from the brothel. Their wonderful story is noted in the aforementioned book, “Half the Sky.” Here is an small excerpt below:
“…for a woman like Meena, who was scorned by society, it was startling to have anyone speak up for her….Meena and Kuduz lived near each other in Forbesgunge, and the incident created a bond between them…and then he offered to marry her. Thrilled, she accepted. Manooj offered Kuduz 1 lakh rupees ($2500) to give Meena up. Kuduz wasn’t interested in the deal. ‘I will not give her up,’ Kuduz said. ‘Love has no price.’ After they were married, Meena bore two daughters with Kuduz.”
Those who respect and accept such brave women as their wives, daughters, and fellow humans, are the ones who merit true praise.
This post is primarily intended to raise awareness about human trafficking. January is HT Awareness Month (all other months are equally necessary for awareness.)
Let us all continue our efforts to eradicate any mentality that creates hate between us and bring an end to modern day slavery for that is the only way we can achieve true harmony in the world at large.