A Mistaken Future

78902505_d1d68d9c75_o.jpgA small little lively girl, who has not yet reached her adolescence, is being led to her new abode which is nothing but a reflection of a prison house for all the ‘life’, that she represents. That’s how the movie ‘Water’ begins. The small little widow is abandoned in that widowhouse for the rest of her life. Her beautiful hair is cut off, her head is shaved off, her bangles are broken and her colourful saree gets replaced with a bare plain white. All for no mistake of her own!

Today we must feel proud of the fact that, we have come a long way from that particular past. Today we are the modern men, harbingers of metro culture. But, keeping aside our very close surroundings, have we ever realized that there is still a vast expanse of our country that is untouched by such radicalism, such liberty and such modernity that we claim to belong to?

Child marriages are still prevalent. It is still practiced in several regions of our country. October 25, 2007, the Supreme Court of India, has ordered compulsory registration of marriages of couples, from all religions throughout the country, in a very significant directive to all States and Union Territories. One of the fundamental objectives of the Court’s order was to curb this very practice of child marriage, which has been infesting, our very existence with such traumatic memories of the past.

This latest order was passed by a Bench comprising Justice Avijit Pasayat and Justice P. Satharivam, on a petition filed by a divorcee, named Seema, who sought directions for making of registration of marriages obligatory. As per its earlier order, the Supreme Court directed all States and Union Territories which have not enacted rules to this effect so far, to frame the necessary rules within a period of three months. However, this noble cause is being marred by the religious angle that seems to get included in the clause, by default. Though the Bench has categorically stated in its order that marriages should be compulsory registered “in respect of persons who are citizens of India, even if they belong to various religions.” ; various State as well as UT Governments reported compliance under Hindu Marriage Act only. In a majority of cases, suggesting non-compliance, religious barriers governing the matrimonial custom and its registration emerged as the biggest stumbling block, refraining the Government from uniformly bringing the Courts order into effect.

In the wake of such a situation, how radical, how modern and how modern can we truly call ourselves becomes ambiguous. Are we then really ‘modern’ citizens of a ‘progressive’ country?

Arunima Chandha

[image by chintanamin]