Child Brides in Rajasthan

During our discussion of virginity and marriage this past Wednesday, I remembered an article that I had read in an edition of National Geographic.  The article is titled “Too young to wed. The secret lives of child brides.” I must admit that while I felt I was somewhat informed about the marital traditions of other cultures, I was shocked at how young the brides in the article are.  According to author Cynthia Gorney, the youngest bride-to-be was 5. I was at a loss for words when I read this and I noticed that as I continued to read, I became more and more disturbed, which is partly because Gorney writes in a manner that critiques the event and her distaste for it all is easily detected.  While I do not wish to pass judgement on another culture’s traditions and practices, I do feel strongly about the idea of marrying off my 5 year old daughter to a middle-aged man.

Child brides in Rajasthan.

Here is the article if anyone would like to read it in it’s entirety:

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/child-brides/gorney-text

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2 thoughts on “Child Brides in Rajasthan

  1. Thanks.

    I appreciate the question in your post: I’m critical of the practice, but I don’t want to pass judgement on someone else’s culture and tradition. But let’s use the methods we talked about in class to get around this problem — because as we talked in class, a cultural relativism that defends all practices may not actually respond to the demands of justice.

    The first is to recognize that “tradition” is not frozen in time but is itself a product of debates and struggles between various groups over time. The second would be to try to find those voices that are closer to a particular group that have raised such critical questions.

    In this case, it would mean not letting “National Geographic” have the final word on the issue of marriage in Rajasthan, but looking for Rajasthani/Indian voices that are _also_ raising the sorts of questions that you are (and they are certainly there). What might someone like Ismat Chughtai say about this?

    Anyone want to take up this question, of finding Rajasthani or Indian feminist voices on child marriage? How do their critiques differ from those of “National Geographic”? What do they share?

  2. In Rajasthan, children ( boys and girls) are married but they live with their parents since they are something like 18. For rural parents, this tradition is good because marrying a girl by this way is less costly, the dowry is less expensive, it’s a way to avoid unwanted and premature sexual relations.

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