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Updated: March 30, 2014 19:37 IST

“Many women have no say in marriage”

Rukmini S
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Four out of ten women in India still have no say in their marriage, eight out of ten need permission to visit a doctor, six out of ten practise some form of head covering, and the average Indian household gives over Rs. 30,000 in dowry. These are among the findings of a major new large-scale sample survey shared exclusively with The Hindu.

The National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) conducts the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), the largest household survey in India after the government's Nation Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) surveys, and the NCAER is the only independent body that conducts such large-sample panel surveys. The survey covers economic data on income and expenditure, development data on education and health, and sociological data on caste, gender and religion. For the next two weeks, The Hindu will report exclusively on the key findings of NCAER's latest round that covers 2011-12 data. This survey covered 42,000 households across the country, weighted nationally, and 83% of them were also interviewed for the 2004-5 round of the IHDS.

The data shows that India has made progress in child marriage, with 48% of women over 25 reporting in 2011-12 that they were married before the age of 18 as opposed to 60% in 2004-5. The average number of children that women (over 40) reported they had had has also come down slightly to 3.55, indicating that fertility is falling. The practice of marrying a cousin or relative – more common in the south than the north – is becoming less common, but over 20% in Andhra Pradesh and Karnata still marry relatives.

However, women's autonomy remains severely constrained. 41% of women had no say in their marriage and just 18% knew their husbands before marriage, a statistic that has not improved. Women's say in marriage rose with their level of education, with income and with level of urbanisation and the southern states did better.

Just 10% said that they could take the primary decision to buy large items for the house, less than 20% had their names on the house's papers and 81% needed permission to visit a doctor. 60% of women – including 59% of forward caste Hindus and 83% of Muslim women – practised some form of `purdah' or `ghunghat'. Over half of all women said it was common for women in their community to be beaten if they went out without permission.

"Those of us in the women's movement and in progressive groups have been saying right from the beginning that instead of focussing on instruments of security like the police alone, there needs to be a transformation inside the home, in schools, in communities," Suneeta Dhar, director of the women's rights group Jagori told The Hindu.

The average Indian family gives over Rs. 30,000 in cash as dowry and 40% admitted to giving large items like TVs and cars as dowry. The practise of giving large items as dowry was most common among forward caste Hindus and lowest among Muslims. Wedding expenses ranged from nearly Rs 1 lakh in the poorest village to Rs 1.7 lakh in small cities, a big jump over the 2004-5 survey. Kerala and Delhi had the most expensive weddings.

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Wow. Only such small lies??

Maybe the writer got tired or would have kept lying for another 2

from:  rahul
Posted on: Mar 20, 2014 at 04:26 IST

Women's rights are not a boon granted by men.

They are capable of winning themselves.

What is needed is financial independence through education, skills training and
employment opportunities.

from:  RKRAO
Posted on: Mar 20, 2014 at 01:57 IST

Women were equally powerful and important in Ancient INDIA.Unfortunately
as the Invaders eroded our culture and society, things started to
change.High Time women are made aware of their strengths and we must
ensure they have equal say in everything.

from:  Raaj
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 23:50 IST

"18% of women had not met husbands before marriage" is true for the men
also. They also didn't meet their wives and it is a risky marriage for
both partners. Not sure what the point is here.
Also Dowry in itself is not a bad thing unless the parents are FORCED
into giving huge wealth to the boys family. From my hindu friends I have
heard mostly these are parting wedding gifts which parents give to their
daughters, which seems to me would make the girls more independent.

from:  Fatima
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 18:40 IST

It is very simple. If the woman knows about the man before marriage the marriage will never take place. Even in the so called dating etc. they project an image to attract the other and act much against their true nature just to hook the "right" person.

from:  K.S.Subramanian
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 17:53 IST

What does the survey say about Educated Working Class Women, do they approve dowry

from:  karthik
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 17:49 IST

From centuries we are showing and following that man has to show and win
in his skill to get the woman in marriage. We have treated the woman as
commodity.Link of "Love" which should be prime in marriage is missing.
We are following one way traffic rule.

Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 16:18 IST

this is case with males also

from:  ramesh
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 15:10 IST

knowing husband before marriage can not be considered as a parameter as
with women marrying their close relatives they would have already known
them..Even in arranged marriages where woman does not have acquaintance
with husband earlier, the choice is made mostly by girls..

from:  ramesh
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 14:15 IST

Yes, women face issues, but everyone takes advantage of situations. I encourage The Hindu to research and publish an article on false 498a cases.

from:  Sudhanshu Vyas
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 13:10 IST

Absolutely disgusting, and we call ourselves a developing country that wants to become a superpower. When half of the population is not given any respect and freedom to express their opinions, how does the country aim to progress. Its shameful that even in 21st century, when women are going out and working, they are the ones who have to take up the marriage expenses. Even when the media is encouraging people to not spend so much on marriages (a Hindu article), we have commentors going against it and saying that this huge and unnecessary expenditure is ok. Why would a woman want to marry in such a scenario.

from:  Nitya
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 11:55 IST

Happy to see that Tamil Nadu has been a front runner on the progressive
movement towards women empowerment.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 09:05 IST

The land of 'Sati' and 'Swayamvaram' where the ultimate power, it is believed, wrested in the female as the 'Adi Parashakti'!! It is ironic that the Indian women now suffer such powerlessness as being reported in this article, makes any fair mined person cringe! Perhaps, it has something to do with the domination by other cultures in the course of the nation's history? Emancipation of the Indian women, once again, is a true and urgent mission of the society at large. There may be some misogynists out there who may want to continue with the system of control that is in existence. Fair minded men should join the movement and rescue the women of India from such an unacceptable state of entrapment. Time to civilize in this area!

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 06:48 IST

Well at least some residual results of the Dravidian movement's attempt
to restore Tamil matriarchy is seen - on women having a say in marriage.
But caste, dowry, horoscopes, religion, etc. all continue to play a
role. As for head coverings, apart from orthodox Muslims, head covering
was never a part of Tamil culture - so the comparison is unfair and

from:  Na. Palaniappan
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 06:36 IST

A study exclusively on rural women should be conducted to realize their travails. In the absence of financial support from their husbands, who spend their earnings on wine and women and other vices, these women's sacrifice to nurture their family/children cannot be measured by any yardstick. Compared to them, urban women are living in paradise.

from:  J.Nagasubramanian
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 04:41 IST

There are some encouraging news in the national statistics: (1) 59%
women have some say in their marriage, (2) 91% have cash on hand, (3)
76% have their say in purchasing goods and (4) 55% have their name in
bank account. The bad news are:(1) only 18% of women knew their
husband before marriage, (2) 48% are married before the 18 years,
(3)81% of women need permission to go to a health center, and (4)60%
practice head/face covering. The Tamil Nadu stands out in excellence
with 94% of women having a say in heir marriage, and (2) only 6% of
women practice head/face covering. Rajasthan fairs worst in women's
suffrage with only 20% having any say in their marriage and (2) 96% of
women practice head/face covering.

from:  Davis K. Thanjan
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 03:59 IST

Newsflash: Most men don't have a say in arranged marriages either. And I'd think the figureds would be much higher than 40%!

from:  Arthur
Posted on: Mar 19, 2014 at 00:06 IST
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