Still it makes no sense to deny education, the girls are no longer in a mood to accept anyway. Why not encourage (secular) marriage across barriers- just like Sharukh and Gauri Khan (and Saif/Kareena and Amir/Kiran and Salman/???). These folks after all are the true idols worshiped by the new generation. They should use more of their star power for encouraging education. Amir already does a lot of public good with Satyameva Jayate, then again he is special.
In West Bengal there were at least 10 muslim families (and
five tribal ones) in the news last year, where the girls were about to be forced into
under-age marriages and displayed astounding bravery by calling in the social service.
The calls to the police followed the same script and articulated the same plea: Kaku ami aro portey chai (uncle, we want to keep on studying). These girls know full well that education is the golden ticket out of a lifetime of servitude.
It is heartening to note that girls are refusing to be door-mats anymore (which is what the various personal laws would like to impose on them) and are also taking advantage of (free) educational opportunities in far greater numbers than the men.
Even if the promised reservations materialize for muslims (as promised by many parties, including the Congress) it appears as if the girls will continue to jump ahead of the boys. This is a potential (social) time-bomb in the making.
However if the emancipation of muslim women triggers a grass-roots movement for reforming of gender inequities that would be a blessing in disguise. If and when this happens it will be truly deserving of the moniker of a “silent revolution” (see below).
This phenomena is across the board amongst all weaker communities and will (must) eventually lead to a breakdown in caste barriers (guardians will just not be able to put up enough barriers between educated youngsters).
In the case of religion however there is less reason for optimism. A Hindu girl may marry into a muslim family (after conversion) but this will not be acceptable for muslim girls.
match-maker, Shahid Farooqui, has been faced with an unusual problem of
late: of ‘over qualified’ brides-to-be. Though his bag is teaming with
profiles of several eligible women from the Muslim community between 23
and 35 years of age, he has been struggling to get many of them a
perfect match. Reason? All these girls are armed with
graduate/post-graduate degrees (M Sc, B Ed, M Tech or even B Tech) now a
trend, almost unheard of until a few years ago. As a result, Farooqui
says, it’s become a herculean task to find these educated women, equally
“Seven out of 10 women seeking alliances
these days are well educated. Given that several men aren’t still
particularly interested in a girl’s education (many aren’t qualified
themselves) and pay more attention to her looks and financial status,
it’s getting difficult to find these prospective brides an appropriate
match,” the middle-aged marriage ‘guru’ says while also adding how a lot
of families from the lower rungs of society are, thus, forced to
Take for instance, Roshna (name changed) of
Mallepally. Despite a B Ed degree in her kitty the young girl was forced
to marry a school drop out, as the family failed to find her a better
match. Ditto a graduate from Yakutpura who eventually married a
man with no degree. The only bright spot: the decent returns from the
groom’s family transport business.
Sadly, such a predicament,
observers rue, is often visible in other marginalised communities too.
Take for instance, 33-year-old Harika (name changed). This doctor from
Madiga Community who registered with a matrimonial site three years ago,
is still anxiously waiting to find her ‘Mr Right’-a doctor from her own
community. “If a man earns well, families overlook his
qualification. Mostly, it’s the women who end up compromising,”
reiterates Yogita K from the matrimonial site shaadi.com. Clearly, Harika’s MBBS education, which might be good news for a country
slogging to improve its literacy rate, has its flipside.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Jaleesa Sultana
Yaseen, member of the Muslim Women Intellectual Forum: “There was a lot
of insecurity among women until a few years ago and they took to
education to support themselves. But that brought along a lot of
practical problems which we need address to correct this imbalance.
Parents need to push male children to study to resolve this,” she says.
But not many college-going girl students from the community are so
optimistic. The current trend has, in fact, instilled in them a fear of
losing out on their studies. “My parents did not want me to take up
post-graduate studies [for the same reason] but I somehow managed to
allay their concerns. Now, seeing so many women who are struggling to
find suitable matches around me, I am not sure what will happen,” said
Suhela Sheikh, who is pursuing M Sc (Nutrition) at a private college.
According to activist and writer Kancha Illaiah this problem is more
prominent in the middle and lower rungs society as higher education
within this section is mostly first generational. “Girls don’t get well
educated grooms within their own caste. Unless the caste problem is over
come, this cannot be done away with,” he stresses.
Mustafa Ali Sarwari of Maulana Azad National University, meanwhile,
considers it a serious social issue. Taking it a step further he says,
“If these girls (out of lack of choice) get married to men who are less
educated, compatibility issues are bound to crop up.”
nonetheless, educationists are happy with the trend, with those like
just-retired professor of Osmania University, B S Rao, even terming this
rise in women education as a “silent revolution” – a stark contrast to
the feelings of Farooqui who confesses to be reeling under “bad