According to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in 2017, India’s divorce rate was as less as 1%. This is not because all the marriages in India are working just fine, but because couples struggle to keep up failed marriages and women suppress their problems in marriage and do not opt for divorce.
In India, Marriage is still considered to be the ultimate goal. And breaking free from it at any cost is considered not a good thing. When a couple decides to get divorced the advice they hear from everyone is to not do it. “Adjust with each other”. “There would be a little differences in every marriage”. “This is the way every marriage works.” These words are given out to even in the gravest cases where even domestic violence is involved.
Especially the woman, the wife is asked to adjust and accept everything. Women in India are painted out to be the epitome of sacrifice and endurance. She is supposed to accept and endure everything and not say a word in return. Many times, when a woman decides to get divorced her own parents would refuse to support her and would not want to accept her back into their homes. They would themselves advise her to adjust to the adversities.
A girl growing up in India is always considered to be someone who should get married someday. She is considered ‘paraya dhan’ (someone else’s property) in her own home. She is considered to have no existence of her own as a single person. And hence when a woman decides to get divorced the family panics. They are not sure if she will get married again. And hence her single existence is a threat to their honour.
Even the legal process for divorce is also such a hassle in India. Even the court tries to keep the couple together as much as possible. This is another reason why couples avoid going to court for a divorce. Normal people would want to avoid the legal hassle and prefer just living separately or adjusting to the problems with each other and living together.
Oftentimes, a couple who wants to get divorced is asked to stay together ‘for the kids’. Divorce indeed will negatively affect the kids and their living situations and mental health. But living in a house where parents do not have a good relationship will also adversely affect their kids. If they are forced to live in a toxic atmosphere the mental health of the kids may permanently be affected.
India scorns the high divorce rate of the developed countries and says that the kids of those countries grow up in such unstable conditions. A low divorce rate and hence a stable living condition for kids is our pride. However, we do not consider the kids who are growing up witnessing domestic violence, or even daily fights between the parents. We turn blind eye to the households that have problems in them with the motto that ‘ghar ki baath ghar me rehni chahiye’ (Matters of a house should remain in the house).
Family problems are often not discussed or talked about in public. Many households with big cracks in their relationship pretend to be a happy couple and a happy family in public. Showing that they have problems between them in public is considered shameful. Many, many middle-class Indian households go on like this.
What we need to do is normalise divorce. Couples need not continue with a troublesome relationship that is difficult to keep together. The legal systems for divorce should become much less of a hassle process. And we should all just accept the fact that nobody, not just women, should have to endure a bad marriage for the sake of anyone else. They should be allowed to break free and breathe freely with happiness.