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Trend of late marriages: Kashmir is on brink of social precipice

Marriage constitutes an important milestone in the life of every individual. It is described as a spiritual and emotional tie-up between the two souls. But the trend of late marriages in Kashmir poses a huge challenge. It has affected individuals socially

Post by on Monday, May 10, 2021

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Mir Baseerat


Marriage constitutes an important milestone in the life of every individual. It is described as a spiritual and emotional tie-up between the two souls. But the trend of late marriages in Kashmir poses a huge challenge. It has affected individuals socially and psychologically.

Caste system, dowry, unemployment, poverty, the tradition of extravagant weddings and government jobs are some of the reasons for the late marriage trend in the valley.

Many believe decades-long political uncertainty has also played its part in changing the traditional social value system regarding marriages as it has taken a toll on people both financially and psychologically.

A comprehensive study “Emergence of Late Marriages in Kashmir” conducted by the department of sociology and social work at Kashmir University has revealed that the average marrying age in females has increased from 21 to 28 years in the last two decades.

Recently, a survey was conducted by Tehreek e Fala-Ul-Muslimeen, a non-profit, non-political organization based in Kashmir. The survey revealed that more than 50,000 girls in Kashmir have crossed ideal marriageable ages.

Owner of Tehreek e Fala-Ul-Muslimeen, Abdul Rashid Naik said that their organization has been conducting the survey since 2016 and the initial plan was to find those girls in Srinagar who are over-aged.

“We were shocked to know that 10,000 girls are unmarried in Srinagar only. After that we expanded our survey to each and every part of Kashmir and as of now more than 50,000 girls have crossed marriageable ages,” he said. 

Naik said during their survey, apart from the financial constraints they came across some bizarre reasons for the late marriages of many girls.

“People nowadays, during the match finding process for their daughters and sisters concentrate on things like caste, income, academic qualification, family background, earning capacity, and other such things.”

“Not only that, people also have their preferences about religious sects,” he said.

Naik said a major issue besides girls not getting married at a proper time is that families put weird conditions which make it difficult to get married.

“Girls these days have difficulties with joint families. They do not want to be married in larger families. It has become so problematic and leads to late marriages,” said Naik. “It is a high time they get educated properly.”

In the survey the organization had found that “the main reason for the late marriages in the downtown area of Srinagar is lack of financial sources.  Moreover, the families of grooms demand dowry.”

Naik said another important reason for the late marriages is the competition set by a group of people wherein the “underprivileged families” try to compete with their neighbours or relatives belonging from the “well-to-do families” in spending over the marriage ceremonies.

Nighat Fatima, an expert from GDC Bijbehara said marriage is usually delayed by many years when the employed person starts looking for a suitable spouse.

Fatima said late marriages are taking a heavy toll on the mental health of youth.

“A person who has no one to share his/her feelings with, frustration is likely to occur; whether it is physiological or psychological,” she said.

“Modernization gave rise to materialistic outlook and it resulted in the crimes, immoral activities and drug addiction,” said Fatima.

She said late marriages for brothers and sons of the family is justifiable because they need to settle down, “but as far as the daughter and sisters are concerned  parents should not wait for their daughters to get settled first and married later as it has many after effects which are bad for our society.”

Experts say that the situation has got more complicated pushing the average marrying age further.

They say there are so many reasons for delayed marriages; however, the major reason is roadblocks to finding job.

“After getting a good livelihood, the choices become complicated, as well. In many cases, well-settled girls do not prefer boys who earn less than they do,” they said. “Well-settled males also have difficult choices. They wish younger and educated girls as their life partners. Traditional dowry practice too has become quite expensive, causing trouble to the poor and even to people belonging to the middle class.”

Experts say the solutions include guest control and legal ban on dowry practice, and conducting marriages without extravagance.

A research scholar from the University of Kashmir said men and women prefer late marriage is because that they do not want to be accountable at an early age and believe their freedom gets curbed,” she said.

 “Furthermore the other reason being unemployment which has been the biggest hindrance in the marriage setup in our valley where it take 35 years to get government job and in some cases people do not even get a government job  while most of the families demand the job for girls and in this way whole system gets trampled,” she said.

However, some NGOs providing monetary help to such families who don’t have resources to marry their daughters.

Many voluntary groups have been organizing mass marriages aimed to help orphans and economically challenged people for whom marriage has become more of a burden rather than a religious and social obligation, as they cannot meet the unrealistic standards that the society has set for marriage nowadays.

Mohammad Altaf Bhat, Chairman of an NGO Tawheed Forum said they are bearing marriage expenses for girls who belong to a poor family.

“We provide assistance to 40 girls every year. We bear the cost of clothes and other necessary items,” said Altaf.

Shaista Akhtar, a local from downtown Srinagar said out of all bizarre things, the worst is the caste system.

“I was denied marriage because of my caste and due to this my brother suffered as well,” she said. “I don’t want to get married anymore, as I am already 44 years old now.”

 

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