Why are divorces becoming more common in India?

IndiaDivorce is a shame

Vasant Vihar, a district in the south of the Indian capital New Delhi. Financially well-off Indians live here. A decorated tent is set up on the edge of a small park. A Hindu wedding is taking place in this large tent.

A priest sits in front of a consecrated fireplace and recites Sanskrit texts. Again and again he pours clarified butter into the fire to nourish it. In the form of fire, God Agni is present at the wedding. In a few minutes the bride and groom will walk 7 steps together, it is the Sapta-Padi ritual. As they advance, the newlyweds say prayers and take 7 vows for the success of their marriage. According to this ritual, the Hindu marriage is concluded.

Like almost all marriages in India, Radha and Dinesh's wedding was arranged by their parents. Bride and groom are well educated and belong to the same caste, a specific class of Indian society. Love marriages, as we know them in Germany, are the absolute exception in India.

"Parents see it as part of their responsibility to arrange their children's marriages. They haven't done their duty until the offspring are married. But sometimes the children reject the spouse chosen by the parents or they want someone from another Marrying a caste - something like this always means loss of face for the parents. Such behavior of the child can also have a negative effect on the siblings' search for a spouse. "

Says sociologist Prof. Rajni Palriwalah from Delhi University.

In India, it is believed that parents would best find the right partner for their son or daughter. And it is also believed that love between spouses will set in after a while. But many young married couples, especially in the cities, do not want to wait any longer. Spouses, predominantly from the social middle class, often decide after a short time not to stay together anymore.

Rajni Palriwalah: "In India, young people of different sexes don't just meet each other. So they cannot find the right partner on their own and they also have no other relationship before marriage. The marriage arranged by the parents saves those willing to marry the search for a partner it is extremely important that a marriage in India has the blessing of the family. "

Writer and activist Madhu Kishwar explains:

"In India, marriage is not just the union of two individuals. It is a union of two families with the aim of bringing about the next generation. This is very important in India."

After the wedding, the couple lives in the household of the husband's parents. Most wives don't know anyone except their husband. It is possible that - unsettled by the new environment - she makes mistakes with housework or in dealing with her husband's relatives. And there are disputes, especially with the mother-in-law.

Rajni Palriwalah: "The daughter-in-law has to get to know the customs of the new household first. Her husband's mother has no understanding for mistakes that happen to her in the housework. Often there are educational differences between the mother-in-law and the wife, which leads to tension. One University education of the wife is often not valued at all because it is of no importance for housekeeping. "

Conflicts between the wife and the mother of her husband also lead to discussions among the spouses. But many young men are still of the opinion that a woman should follow the classical Brahmin ideal of women: she should serve her husband, devote herself entirely to him and put her own needs aside. The Brahmins, members of the highest caste in Indian society, see the religion of women in service to their husbands. A woman is said to behave exactly as Sita did towards her husband Rama in the Indian epic Ramayana. But educated wives in particular no longer want to follow this image of women. This creates friction in the marriage. This is not hidden from the relatives either.

Madhu Kishwar: "The married couple's families have a great interest in making the marriage work. When problems arise, the families try to fix them together: They seek a conversation with the married couple. Sometimes a spouse is admonished to do so please reconsider his behavior. All of this is done to ensure a lasting marriage. "

But sometimes all the efforts of the families do not help to save the marriage: there is a separation.

Rajni Palriwalah: "Of course there are divorces here. Quite a few people are of the opinion that the divorce rate has risen. But what I believe: Nowadays people are not hiding as much as they used to be when spouses do not harmonize with each other. Mostly in the middle class of our society you are now more open about it. "

The individual religious groups in India have their own regulations regarding marriage and divorce. For the Hindus, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 is authoritative. There the reasons that justify a divorce are listed: For example, in addition to violence in marriage, an infectious disease such as AIDS, and incurable leprosy are listed. Religion-related reasons can also be found in the Hindu Marriage Act: If a spouse converts to another religion or turns away from worldly life and pursues a spiritual path, the marriage can be divorced.

Madhu Kishwar: "In India you cannot rely on the official figures. For the simple reason that not everyone files for divorce at the court. Similarly, marriages are rarely reported to the competent authorities. Marriages and divorces are regulated within the community. Bei In the event of a separation, the families and spouses come together with a mediator and agreements are made. This is how most divorces happen in our country.

However, the agreements made are often not adhered to. And most of the time it is women who suffer. For example, there are no maintenance payments or a fortune is not shared. The women then have to seek help from their families. It is much more difficult for women than men to find a new spouse after a divorce. But the separation also puts the man in an awkward situation: To participate in Hindu ceremonies, he needs a woman by his side. Divorce, of course, damages the family's reputation. Concern for a good reputation makes people inventive:

Rajni Palriwalah: "Separations are often veiled. They then say that the woman is back in her parents' house to look after the seriously ill mother. And when suddenly the man is absent from the household, they say that he has found a new job somewhere else. It There are several ways to hide a divorce instead of being open about what happened. "