Rape “victim” marries accused in prison

On 15 July 2016, a “victim” married the man accused of her rape in Bhubaneswar, India. Since the man is still under trial, the marriage took place inside the prison.

This sort of news is nothing unusual at this point. Increasingly we are seeing reports of women accusing their ex-boyfriends of rape. They claim that they were lured into a physical relation under the false promise of marriage. In India, consent obtained under false pretexts is not considered valid.

You see, although India is rapidly liberalizing, pre-marital sex is still a big deal here for many. So once a man has sex with a woman, many women would expect him to eventually propose. With arising awareness about India’s strict rape laws, many women are finding a convenient legal weapon to enforce this traditional expectation. Pro-men’s rights activist Deepika Narayan Bharadwaj has said, “Everyone is telling women about their legal rights today. It’s blaring out of television, radio, the Internet, advertisements, chat shows, everywhere. This has led to more use and misuse of the law.

It may be true that many men actually entice women into a physical relationship using false promises. But it also traps men in abusive relationships. The burden of proof that consent was obtained lies on the man, while a woman can retroactively withdraw consent after she is dumped.

Back to the woman who married her rapist, she was quoted as saying that she would withdraw the complaint as the man has now married her. The marriage took place with the approval of the additional district and sessions court, so it is unlikely that she will be held responsible for wasting public resources.

She was also quoted saying that she was optimistic about having “a smooth marital life”. I am sure she would, since now she holds the leash to her husband’s collar.

Why very few people want to be called feminist anyone

Is Tanmay Bhat right about feminism? Did Lisa Haydon really misinterpret feminism? Or has Feminism gone from a movement for women’s equality to a misandrist and self-serving cult?

In March 2015, Shyama Krishna Kumar in an a column for the The New Indian Express argued, “Every day, women on the Internet and in the real world are called out for being feminists — labelled as bra-burning, man-hating liberals; when the opposite is true. Feminism is not an attack on men, but an embracing of the fact that all humans are equal, whether they are men, women, transgender or otherwise.” She was advocating the introduction of feminist teaching in Indian schools.

Recently in an interview with the The Times of India published on 22 May 2016, actress Lisa Haydon rejected the label of feminism. She said, “I don’t like the word feminist. I don’t think women trying to be men is feminism. I also don’t believe in being outspoken for the sake of it, or just to prove a point. Feminism is just an overused term and people make too much noise about it for no reason. Women have been given these bodies to produce children, and the spirit and tenderness to take care of people around us. It’s fine to be an outspoken and working woman. I don’t want to be a man. One day I look forward to making dinner for my husband and children. I don’t want to be a career feminist.

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Her personal choice to not be a feminist was highly criticised on the social media. Even several left-leaning newspaper and blogs condemned her statements. Writing for the DNA India, Nirmalaya Dutta proclaimed that, “Dear Lisa Haydon, if you believe in gender equality then you are a feminist“. On Miss Malini, a celebrity gossip blog, Priyam Saha wrote, “Lisa Haydon’s take on feminism is everything that’s wrong with the world“. Urmi Bhattacheryya writing for The Quint said, “Sorry Lisa Haydon, but you know nothing about feminism.

Around the same time, Tanmay Bhat, a Youtube comedian turned TV star, made a rant about feminism on SnapChat. In it he ptoclaimed, “If you believe men and women should have equal rights, that makes you a feminist. That’s it. There’s nothing else.” For his opinion, he got lots of pats on the head.  On the Firstpost, Swetha Ramakrishnan wrote, “Lisa Haydon should take tips from Tanmay Bhat on how not to misinterpret feminism“.

I could find only a few bloggers siding with Lisa Haydon. On The Frustrated India, there is Kalpojyoti Kashyap with his article “Why Lisa Haydon makes more sense than all feminists combined?” A journalist for The Times of India, Piyali Prakash wrote in a column, “Why Tanmay Bhat got feminism wrong“. She argued that she uses various perks offered to women like metro coaches reserved specially for women, thus she is “conveniently sexist”.
So, she asked Tanmay Bhat not to brand her as a feminist without her consent. The article brought outraged women to the comments calling her idiot and stupid.

idiot piyali

 stupid piyali

Despite for all their arguments, increasingly a lot of people worldwide are avoiding the label of feminism. In 2014, the hashtag #WomenAgainstFeminist went viral in US. It was started by women who said that they believe in true egalitarianism, and also supported men’s issues. Some of them believed that feminism censors dissenting views. More recently in January 2016, it was reported that according to a survey in UK, only 7% of the people surveyed called themselves feminists, but 86% of the men and 74% of the women supported gender equality. The survey was done by The Fawcett Society, a feminist charity, which choose to published report under the title of “We are a nation of ‘hidden feminists’“, thus forcing the label of feminism on the very people who do not want it.

Frequently, when faced with criticism of modern feminism, many feminists pull the dictionary argument. In the case of Lisa Haydon, Quartz India wrote, “Perhaps it would help if these celebrities look up the meaning of the word “feminism” before denouncing it.” I am bemused that a movement with millions of proponents and a three hundred year history is reduced to a narrow definition of a single sentence.

Over the years, the feminist movement which can be traced to the Suffragette have taken many forms. However in recent years, it has been taking a extreme form. The symptoms of this mutation can be seen among feminists who advocate putting all men in concentration camps and focus on fatuous and first-world issues like gender roles of video game characters and manspreading instead of real issues which still affects several women worldwide. No wonder more and more people now avoid the label of feminist.

Indian government to stregthen marital rape laws

After a bit of flip-flop, the ruling BJP government has agreed to strengthen the laws criminalising marital rape. In this post, we will examine the legal and social aspects behind this controversy in brief.

Recently, there has been a lot of controversy regarding marital rape in India. The feminist and liberal groups have been demanding that it should be criminalised. The conservatives have been arguing it should not be criminalised.

Some people may get the impression that in India, husbands are allowed to rape their wives. But, it is untrue. The Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code can be used to prosecute marital rape. The Section 498A is typically used to try dowry harassment cases. But it is actually there protect women from “cruelty” from their husbands or his relatives. Here, the broadly-defined “cruelty” may refer to mental or physical cruelty. This, thus, includes marital rape.  Under this law, the maximum penalty is 3 years imprisonment and fine.

Another law, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, explicitly criminalises “physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse” of women. The judge under this law can even evict the man from the shared marital property (which usually means his own house). This law has a maximum penalty of 1 year imprisonment for violating court’s orders and fine. You may have noticed that both these laws protect women only and are not gender neutral. Both of these laws are frequently misused by educated women to threaten their husbands. However, many real victims of marital rape are simply not aware of these laws.

The current cause of controversy is around a particular clause of the rape law, Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. The Section 375 is the Indian law that defines rape. It has a maximum penalty of life and a minimum penalty of 7 years. But, it has an exception clause, that a husband cannot be tried under this law, as long as the wife is not a child bride under the age of 16. The feminist and liberal groups are demanding that this clause be removed and marital rape be brought at par with general rape. Some of them think that without this, women who are victims of marital rape, will otherwise have no legal recourse. This is untrue as I have already mentioned two laws addressing marital rape above. Thus,  the actual debate is not whether we should criminalise marital rape, but whether marital rape should be punished under the same law as stranger rape.

This exception clause dates back to the British era. In 1889, a 10-year-old girl called Phulmoni Dasi died after her adult husband had intercourse with her. The British set the minimum age of consent to 12. Thus, as long as a bride was above 12, it was not considered rape by the British.  The age of consent was later raised to 16. (Now, it is 18.)

In 2000, the Law Commission had not recommended criminalising marital rape. However, after the 2012 Delhi gang rape, this became a big issue of debate. The Justice Verma Committee in its report had recommended deleting the exception clause. (The Committee had also recommended making male rape illegal, but it was shot down by feminists.) The UPA government passed a stronger law against rape, however decided to leave marital rape laws untouched.

After the BJP government was elected in May 2014, these was little hope of rekindling the debate, as BJP draws a lot of supporters from conservative Hindus. Traditional Hindus view marriage as sacred and don’t like any laws changing its definition. In October 2014, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) reported that 6,590 women in 100,000 were “forced them to have sexual intercourse against their will.” This is a frequently stated statistics on marital rape. (The women’s questionnaire used in the survey looked like this, see question no. 1107).

(I find it amusing that they call themselves the National Family Heath Survey, because they primarily interview women between the age of 15-49. In the 4th NFHS, 625,014 women were surveyed and only 93,065 men. The men’s questionnaire was loaded with questions like “When is a husband justified in hitting or beating his wife in?” or “What do you think a husband should do if a woman refuses to have sex with him?” So, you can forget about getting any data about male victims of  rape or domestic violence from them.)

In April 2015, BJP Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told the upper house Rajya Sabha that, “It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, the mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament.” This statement led to a lot of angry blog posts, tweets and opinion pieces.

In late April 2015, Preetika Rana writing for the Wall Street Journal trained her guns right at the ruling party with the article “Modi Government’s Reasons for Why Marital Rape is Not a Crime.” In May 2015, Hindustan Times published the article “When no is not an option: Marital rape denies right over her body” by Poulomi Banerjee which cited an UNFPA survey that “nearly one in five women interviewed spoke of having faced sexual violence from a partner in an intimate relationship”. (I couldn’t find the details of the methodology used in that survey.) In June 2015, an opinion piece titled “When even rape is legal” by one Kanika Sharma and Aashish Gupta appeared in The Hindu, which cited the above NFHS data.

In April 2016, Minister for Women Maneka Gandhi said the government was seriously considering criminalising marital rape. This is an interesting move, since in India, men cannot be raped by definition, and the MPs of this very government have blocked a bill to decriminalise same-sex acts, another British-era relic.

I would very be interested in how this law would be designed, as it would have to pander to both the feminist groups and BJP’s right-wing Hindu vote bank. It would probably give a lot of legal firepower to women, as many laws in recent years have (like the dowry laws, domestic laws and workplace harassment laws). These laws are usually designed to be too strict on men and lead to a lot of misuse by sly women. They usually don’t benefit the actual victims, as they are usually too uneducated to know about them. In many cases, the perpetrator is also equally uneducated, for the knowledge of the law to serve as a deterrent. In the end, most of these laws primarily end up as means of legal terrorism against educated men by educated women. There is now a strong need that such laws should be designed such as to prevent their misuse.

I will keep you updated on any news about this marital rape issue.

Jian Ghomeshi’s acquittal and the Twitter outrage

Recently, a Canadian radio personality Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted of sexual assault charges. Following the news, women (and some men) on Twitter accused the Canadian legal system of being anti-women and some even abused Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein. In this post, I will explore the incidents in detail.

In October 2014, Jian Ghomeshi was fired from his job at CBC, where he used to host a show called Q. He had been with CBC for 12 years. The reason for his firing was that Toronto Star had been working on a story based on the allegations from three of his ex-girlfriends, that he had been violent with them without their consent. Some of the allegations dated back to 2002. After Ghomeshi was fired, the story was published. Ghomeshi maintained that although he liked rough sex, he had always done it after getting consent. He claimed that these were lies being spread by his jilted ex-girlfriends. By late October 2014, Toronto Star was claiming that at least 8 women had contacted it saying that they had been sexually abused by Ghomeshi. By 6 November 2014, magazines were digging up stories from his college days in the 1990s and claiming that “there had been foreshadowing for years in the circles in which Ghomeshi moved”. Of the 8 cases (15 according to some), three women came forward and filed complaints with the police.

The trial began in February 2016. Ghomesh was represented by noted defence lawyer, Marie Henein. The first woman said she met Ghomeshi at a Christmas party in 2002. She and Ghomeshi were kissing on a couch in his house, when suddenly he pulled her hair, pulled her to her knees, and then punched her on the head repeatedly. Ghomeshi’s layer, Henein, pointed out that the woman had sent a flirty email to Ghomeshi with a bikini picture, after the sexual assault had allegedly taken place. The email correspondence went up to a year after the supposed crime. The woman had previously testified that she had no contact with Ghomeshi after the sexual assault.

The second woman was a TV star, Lucy-Anne DeCoutere. She was the only woman who allowed her identify revealed to the press. She claimed that in July 2003, when she went to Ghomeshi’s house, he slapped her without warning and choked her until she couldn’t breathe. Marie Henein told the court of the flirty emails sent mere hours after the incident to Ghomesh. Henein also pointed out that DeCoutere had maintained contact with Ghomeshi for years after the incident, which included hand-written notes. DeCoutre said that the relationship was platonic and she did not like having negative feelings towards anyone. In 2005, she sent a picture of her fellating a beer bottle to Ghomeshi.

The third woman claimed that Ghomeshi had put his teeth on her and squeezed her neck which they were kissing on a park in 2003. In this case also, Heinen pointed that she had exchanged text messages with Ghomeshi following the incident. Marie Heinen’s smart dissection of the accussers’ statement inevitably brought the focus on her. Everything from her family background, former clients, her style of dressing and her law firm was discussed in the media. A female writer wrote an entire article about her high heels. Meanwhile, the prosecutor’s case, which was obviously full of holes, was falling apart.

On 24 March 2016, the judge declared Ghomeshi to be not guilty. The judge said that prosecutor had completely relied on the witnesses’ testimonies and had no other evidence, “There is no other evidence to look to determine the truth. There is no tangible evidence. There is no DNA. There is no ‘smoking gun’.” The judge also pointed to the inconsistencies in the testimonies. I seemed to me that even if the incidents had happened, women did not consider them a crime or serious enough to be reported at that time. But later, they changed their minds.

After the verdict, Ghomeshi’s sister Jila gave a statement, “We are relieved but not surprised by the court decision today. It can only be surprising to those who rushed to judgement before the trial had started and before a single word of evidence had been heard.”
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A group of activists arrived chanting “We believe survivors”. A topless activist with “Women declare Ghomeshi guilty” written on her body was arrested by the police.

Another case from a single complaint will go to trial in June 2016. Ghomeshi may or may not be held guilty in that one.

As soon as the news of the verdict was released, many Canadian women (and some men) on the Twitter were outraged. They proclaimed that despite the non-existence evidence, based on the shady testimonies alone, Ghomeshi should have been held guilty. Soon #Ghomeshi and #IBelieveSurvivors were trending on Twitter in Canada. In this post, I will examine some of the tweets that caught my attention.

Tweets claiming that the verdict will discourage victims from coming forward.

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A lot of women were concerned less about the actual verdict and more concerned about the impact of the verdict. They were not interested in establishing the facts at all. If they had the means, they would have held Ghomeshi guilty, merely so as not to discourage future victims from coming forward. They perhaps believe that any man accused of sexual assault should held guilty, only so that future victims do not feel discouraged.

Tweets claiming that the Canadian justice system is broken.

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There were also a lot of tweets claiming that Ghomeshi was acquitted because the legal system of Canada is broken. I had trouble understanding what they meant by that. I also read some of the links shared by them, but they all talked about suggested reforms like free legal counsel for women and separate courts. Some of them argued that testifying in front of their attacker is traumatising for the victims. But none of them exactly explained how in this particular case, the “broken” justice system supposedly let Ghomeshi walk. Unless, the argument is that the accusers forgot that they emailed Ghomeshi for months, by the trauma of facing him in the court.

Tweets attacking the judge.
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There were also a lot tweets criticising the judge. Someone were offended by the words he used in the verdict, others argued that he should have upheld the flawed testimonies of the accusers. In an opinion piece in the Times Colonist, two women law professors wrote that they accepted the verdict due to the lack of evidence, but were offended by the words used. The verdict said, “is impossible for the court to have sufficient faith in the reliability or sincerity of these complainants.” The writers argued that judge should not have called them dishonest.

Tweets attacking Ghomeshi’s lawyer.
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There were a lot of vitriol filled comments towards Marie Henein. Some pointed out that she had previously defended Michael Byrant in a drunk driving and accidental death case. A lot of tweets however accused Marie Heinen of being a party to injustice and a betrayer of womankind. A blog claimed that it had found that the judge’s son was working with Heinen’s brother in some firm. Thus, there was a conflict of interest and the judge should have excused himself from sitting over the case.

Later in an interview, Heinen defended herself. She said that she found the tweets accusing her of betraying women to be distressing. She also said, “Hashtag I believe is not a legal principle, nor should it ever be.” In a speech at the Young Women in Law gala in Toronto, she said, “Throughout your career in this profession, you will be told what you should do, how you should act, which way you should bend. Do not listen to any of it. Do not be dissuaded by my experience. Do not for a moment be disheartened. I am not.”

Not all tweets.

However, not all tweets were disheartening in this manner.
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Some people were disappointed with the verdict but they still understood the importance of evidence.
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Not all tweets were hateful of Marie Henein either.

The bottomline is that when a man is accused of sexual assault, everyone will presume him to be guilty. The concept presumption of innocence simply disappears. Anyone remotely associated with him or defending him will be vilified. Canadian men (and men around the world) should try their best to avoid getting entangled in such cases.

I will also write about the next trial of Jian Ghomeshi. In the upcoming weeks, I will write about how the media and society views men accused of sex crimes. Until then, let’s be thankful that the judiciary system is not a democracy run by Twitter Feminists.

 

 

Arranged marriage still beats dating in India

Recently on 2 April 2016, the Indian newspaper The Hindu published an article titled “Running in the family“. In this post, I will make some observations about the article.

The article opens by quoting an excerpt from the women’s self-help book – Do you Know Any Good Boys?: A Woman’s Guide to the Arranged Marriage by Meeti Shroff-Shah. The excerpt mentions how the authoress was asked by a relative of a prospective groom if she can cook. The author’s reaction to this was to outrage internally, “If I were a little kid, this could be the moment I flung a toy car at his face.” I think the reaction was rather excessive. Good cooking skill is an essential attribute that almost every men looks in a wife, usually after beauty and youth. I think all men should also have good culinary skills to be more well-rounded and less dependent on women. The article also mentions that the authoress went through about 40 prospective men before she found a man willing to marry her. Quite amusing, if you think about it, since she can admittedly cook only pasta. I am not surprised at all. She probably had very high requirements for her man. I pretty sure her one of make or break questions was: “What do you do?” It is code for “How much do you earn?” Anyway this book seems like a bag of laughs. I will probably buy a copy.

The article then mentions that only 5% of Indians marry outside their castes. I have mentioned it my last post. Many love marriages are actually same-caste marriages. I have observed many women discreetly asking about the caste before they start dating the man. This ensures that there is less resistance from the families at the time of marriage. Thus, even while dating, family is frequently on the mind of the young people. Many people also date the person suggested by the parents before they get married. This they call the “arranged-cum-love marriage”. This kind of arranged dating is also gaining popularity in India. Most young people in urban India nowadays, have at least some say in their marriage, as opposed to the old days when basically most of the decisions were made the parents. The article also mentions that all this is an illusion of choice as various limiters still exists on their choices, such as caste, class, horoscope, food (omnivores vs. vegetarians) etc.

The article mentions to a study from the National Institute of BioMedical Genomics (NIBMG). The study by Analabha Basua, Neeta Sarkar-Roya, and Partha P. Majumdera was accepted by the PNAS in December 2015. The study took DNA samples from 367 unrelated individuals. According to the study, endogamy (marrying within caste) started around 1500 years ago for higher castes. The study also found that male members of higher castes had offspring with lower castes for sometime. But the reverse was not observed, indicating female hypergamy based on caste or higher castes misusing their power. The Marathas continued to draw warriors from the peasant castes, but eventually the warrior castes or the Kshatriyas closed themselves off from the lower castes around 1,100 years ago. Given that the caste system has existed for hundreds of years, it will be slow to fall.

The article also mentions the rising popularity of dating apps. But notes that most people use to apps to experiment and then settle into an arranged marriage. Mostly because there are no established rules and no experiences of elders to draw on in dating. For some dating comes first, and arranged marriage is a last resort if they are unable to a mate by dating. Harrish Iyer’s case has been mentioned, who is gay and whose mother is looking for a boy for him to marry.

Either way the basic rules that I have mentioned in my past posts still apply. If you fulfil those criteria, it will be relatively easy for you find a girlfriend or wife.

Caste, dowry and the illusion of scarcity

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Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

In my last post, I talked about the origin of dating and the female mate selection strategy. Some of you may have thought that, the traditional Indian marriage is better where parents search for matches for their children. In this post, I will talk about the traditional marriage market in India and try to dispel some of the myths about it.

First of all, the traditional marriage market in India is highly fragmented, due to multiple linguistic divisions, religious sects, castes, sub-castes, gotras, horoscopes, etc. Within each segment there exists hypergamy i.e., the tendency to marry up, especially among the female’s family. In the past, almost all decisions regarding marriage was in the hands of the parents. Nowadays, the parents mostly screen the prospective matches and the man or the woman has the final say. While hunting for prospective matches, parents frequently look for a “good family”. This term usually has different meanings for the parents of the man and of the woman. For the man’s parents, it usually means a family belonging to the same caste segment and economic strata as them. But the girl’s parents, it is just another term for hypergamy.

The woman’s parents typically look for a prospective groom who is more educated than the woman and has a higher income. If the woman is less educated and unemployed, then the man’s education and wealth is compared to the girl’s father’s or to that of other relatives. Now, there may be several men fitting these two criteria for a women in their town or city, but the additional criteria like religious sect, caste, sub-caste, etc. reduces the number of prospective grooms. Thus, an artificial scarcity is created. This raises the value of the grooms greatly. The parents of the grooms also apply several of their own criteria while bride-hunting, but there remains a degree of flexibility. Due to the perceived scarcity of grooms, there occurs a bidding war in the form of dowry price.

The concept of dowry may sound counter-intuitive because of the high male to female gender ratio in India. The value of females should ideally be higher in such a society. In China, for example, there is the concept of bride price, where the man pays a hefty sum to the woman’s family. But in India with its segmented market and artificial scarcity, there is still dowry. Even though asking for dowry it now illegal, it may exist in the form of bridal gifts given by the woman’s family at the time of her marriage. These gifts usually include whatever it is thought to be essential to start a new household, like a vehicle, a television, kitchen appliances, furniture etc. Expensive jewellery, clothes, watches etc. may be included. Sometimes it may also include an apartment or house. The high cost of dowry has been one of the primary cause of female infanticide in India since the medieval times. This continues today in the form of female foeticide.

Usually, the tradition of dowry is blamed on the greed of men, but it is actually a side-effect of hypergamy. The castes were originally based on occupations. They are from an era, when the son inherited the father’s property and followed him into his vocation. They don’t carry much meaning in today’s urban society where public education is almost free and there are a variety of occupations which are open to all. Rural regions in India still cling strongly to caste though. Yet, caste lives on the minds of many Indian parents in urban. There can be only so many educated and high earning men within their sub-caste. Since they are unwilling to look outside their own sub-caste, they are forced to raise their bids. This usually done by increasing the dowry or value of the bridal gifts. Some parents spend hundreds of thousands of rupees educating their daughter. The degree is almost never used as the woman becomes a trophy wife. This is another way of raising value of one’s daughter in a groom-scarce market. Some states which introduced affirmative policies in their universities, like reservation of seats for women or subsidised fees, saw their plans backfiring as they essentially created factories for trophy wives instead of empowering women.

Men also face scarcity as there are also a fixed number of young beautiful women in their sub-caste. The men who are the bottom of the barrel in their segment have to be flexible and look outside their traditional criteria. In states like Haryana, where the bride-shortage is acute due to the skewed gender ratio, men are looking for brides in states as far as Kerala. The men who are the cream of their segment, can easily get a bride. But, sometimes after marriage they may feel that the dowry given was below their worth and may demand more. In some other cases, many men enter marriage without knowing how much marriage costs and find that their dowry money doesn’t cover it beyond the first few years. This sometimes results in the bride’s torture, suicide or murder.

I am not absolving the men who do these things. But, a lot of the problems caused by the artificial scarcity can be fixed, if it were not for the caste system and hypergamy. For example, if they are unable to find a good groom in their own segment, parents could look for a similar groom in a lower caste or settle for groom earning a lower salary. With the blurring of caste lines, we will some of these happening and the segments disappearing. At the same time, the dating market will continue to expand. But, hypergamy will continue to exist as its genetic for women. According to a survey, only 5.4 percent of the total of marriages in India are inter-caste marriages. Some of the government policies such as reservation of university seats and public-sector jobs for lower castes, may have slowed the downfall of the caste system. Some lower caste women from those scheduled castes may find themselves reluctant to marry into a higher caste, because their offspring would lose those benefits.

At the end of this all, Indian weddings tend to have the most elaborate and expensive rituals and traditions. For the middle class, a wedding can wipe out years of savings of the couples’ parents. It is typically way more expensive for the woman’s family. Thus, many prefer a boy child to save on wedding and dowry costs later. Indian weddings tend to be an event to show off to the neighbours, relatives and acquaintances. Some banks even offer wedding loans but for small amounts. The total amount that a middle class couple will save, if they simply get married in a family court, can usually serve as the down payment for a house or apartment. But, most Indian parents are concerned about their prestige rather than their savings. Frequently, the groom’s family claim to be offended if the party thrown by the bride’s family is not lavish enough. In my opinion, the groom should insist on getting a court marriage and use the total money saved from his and the women’s parents to buy a house or make an investment. A single dinner feast with close friends and families should be enough.

So as you saw, traditional marriage market has its own share of headaches. The dating market may erase some of the lines but will create more competition. In upcoming posts, I will talk about these topics in greater detail.

What women want: A guide for the modern Indian man

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Image courtesy: PublicDomainPictures

Whether one supports dating in India or considers it immoral, the fact remains that it is here to stay and spread. The need is now to talk about love and demystify it. Otherwise, we will keep seeing frustrated men resorting to stalking and other criminal behaviours including acid attacks. This article will explain the criteria based on which women select their mates and guide you how to improve yourselves to fit those criteria better.

Origin of dating

For centuries, Indian marriages were arranged by the parents of the boy and the girl. The girl’s parents would seek the most eligible boy for their daughter within their sub-caste and the boy’s parents would similarly seek the best girl. They would compare horoscope charts and negotiate the dowry. If an agreement is reached, an astrologer would be called to find an auspicious date for the wedding. The phenomenon still continues in most parts of India. However, increasingly more and more young people are choosing their own spouses nowadays.

The phenomenon is a fairly recent one and is mostly restricted to the upper economic strata. This practice of dating arose when people began sending their sons and daughters away for home for higher education or to find a job. The earlier generations lived with their parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and grandparents in large joint-families. The family patriarch (or matriarch) had the final say in all important decisions, including in the creation of marital ties with other families.

The concept of dating is unacceptable and even vulgar to many conservative Indians. News articles about honour killings are not infrequent. This is why watching popular Indian films is a rather amusing experience, because most of them are melodramatic love stories. The very audience, which cheers the fictional couple on-screen, are most likely to assault a real life couple in a public park. Some people argue that the rising popularity of dating is caused by its portrayal in films. Others argue that it is due to the effect of western culture on the Indian society. I, however, disagree with them.

Dating is simply a throwback to the distant past, to the mating strategies followed by our pre-historic ancestors. These mate selection strategies evolved over millions of years and were preserved within our genes. These strategies were suppressed, more in women and less in men, when our wandering ancestors settled down in villages, formed societies, invented religions and built civilisations. Soon marital ties became tools of bargaining, of economic and political favours. Soon, religious leaders and rulers of lands also began imposing their rules on marriage, mostly to fortify their own power and satisfy their own desires.

Lack of knowledge

With the fall of the controls that most Indian parents had over their adult children and relaxing social norms, the mate selection strategies lying dormant in our genes are once again expressing themselves in the society. As in all human societies, also in India, the men are expected to take the first step. But when they encounter the female mate selection strategies, they are baffled. They have nowhere to seek guidance. The popular media portrays love as something mysterious and divine. Their parents are as clueless them about dating and sometimes even worse. All this combined with peer pressure results is some distasteful and dangerous behaviours like stalking, groping, rape, suicide and acid attack.

Most Indian men feel that there is a scarcity of good women in the society. It is only partly true. In many states, people prefer boys over girls, so they abort female fetuses and try again until they get a male child. This has resulted in a skewed gender ratio in India. Furthermore, many women are married early in India compared to men. Some conservative parents try to keep their daughters away from men until marriage. Thus usually in any social circle, there are several men for every single women. This allows women to choose from several options, whereas men feel that there are only a few options for them.

As a result, men have to try harder to get a girlfriend. The effort that they must put to get a girlfriend in India is very high in India, compared to other western and many far-eastern countries. Having a intimate female friend is also consider a matter of status among male peers. Thus, rejection or termination of a relationship is considered a colossal waste of effort and a matter of shame. Such men are often unable to give up and start anew. They resort to stalking their woman of interest. This particular behaviour is also reinforced by the popular media, in which it is often shown that such persistence being rewarded.

Some men devolve into depression, resort to self-harm, alcoholism and sometimes suicide. Acid attacks also sometimes arise out of such rejections. The man angered by his rejection and waste of effort, may try to disfigure his love interest to render her unattractive to other men. All this arises out of lack of knowledge about the female mate selection strategies, the perceived scarcity of good women, misconceptions about love, and lack of guidance about self-improvement.

Female mate selection strategy

There have been several studies regarding which traits of men make them the most attractive of women. Most of the strategies are genetic and have been passed from mother to daughter for millions of years. Only some are cultural. Indian women also follow these same strategies, slightly morphed by social norms. In short, the criteria on which women select their mates are mostly the same across the world and are as follows:

  1. Physical traits: These involve all the positive physical traits such as strength, agility and facial structure.
  2. Personality traits: These involve personality traits such as intelligence, charm and assertiveness.
  3. Economic traits: This refers to how much money, power and influence the candidate man has.

Most women use a mixture of criterion 1, 2 and 3 to choose their mate. However, some women prefer one over the other. Furthermore, here “mate” does not necessarily mean husband or boyfriend, it simply means with whom a woman decides to make love with.

Paths to self-improvement

There is something common in the strategies of both men and women – they have both evolved to ensure that their offsprings carry their genes into the next generation. The male mate selection strategy can be summarised as: choose the prettiest women. There are other criteria, but they are all subservient to this. So, comparatively the female strategy is complex. Some men may accuse me of being deceptively simplifying women. But, I can assure you these facts have been distilled from various scientific studies. Then again this is the beginning, the nuances can be learnt later.

1. Physical traits

This criterion refers to genetic traits like facial attractiveness, physical strength, muscularity, lack of deformities, proper posture and resistance to diseases. Women have evolved attraction towards these traits, as a man with these traits could have provided them with protection in the harsh prehistoric times. These traits can also be inherited by their offspring which would give it an evolutionary advantage.

This criterion being genetic is perceived to be the most difficult to improve in. But this is not completely true, you can still greatly improve in it. Furthermore, even if you are blessed in this criteria by your parents’ genes, you should still take care of your body. Irrespective of your score in this criteria, you should workout and try to remain healthy. Playing a sport is a good way to advertise your physical traits.

2. Personality traits

This criterion refers to various personality traits. This may include intelligence, charm, wit, assertiveness, charisma, leadership, resolute etc. Most of these traits are part of your upbringing and a small part is determined by your genetics. In prehistoric time, these traits also provided evolutionary advantages to a man in situations such as conflict resolution and negotiating for resources. A lot of these traits can be inherited by or taught to the offspring.

A lot of these can be developed even in adulthood by practice. In my opinion, the most important of these traits is equanimity. Many men are disheartened by failure or are swayed greatly by criticism. An equanimous man, however, remains steadfast in the face of them and performs whatever is needed to be done.

3. Economic traits

Although, it is ideal that you score well in all three criteria, this criterion is the great equaliser. A high score is this criterion will make up for a low score in the other two criteria.

However, having such a scoring will also make you the target of gold-diggers. Such women will not hesitate to leave you for a better scoring man or cheating behind your back. Irrespectively, you should always keep trying to improve in this criterion by picking the right career paths and choosing the right opportunities. The one of the greatest delusions many Indian men have is that Indian women don’t care about money. This cannot be any more further from the truth. In India, poverty is constantly visible and soul-crushing. Women care a lot about money, it is an universal truth, but only in a few places it can be truer than in India. Women in prehistoric times, even before the invention of money, developed a strong attraction towards the man with the most resources. Because in those tumultuous times the man with most resources survived and could also ensure the survival of his family. It may also be noted that in some cases money is replaced by political power or social status in this criteria. But, they all are merely different types of resources or means of gathering resources.

End notes

So, these were some of the information that you were missing about the women. You may choose to use this knowledge for self-improvement. You may try to trick the system. You may also choose to not play the game at all. The choice is your.

Over the upcoming months, I will write in greater detail about the economics of dating and the traditional marriage market in India. I will also write about the legal and social rules that regulate the market.