Most girls are brought up to believe that they will be married to the man of their dreams and have a home and family of their own. Most of them believe it to be true and look forward to it through their growing years.
It is no different for a girl with a disability. However, is it the same for her family and society at large? While there must be exceptions to the rule, more often than not, the concern about who will marry their disabled daughter plagues the minds of parents in the situation.
As a result, one of two things happens: parents simply resign to the fact that their daughters are their responsibility and will continue to live with them for the rest of their lives, thus absolving themselves of the need to find them a partner. Or lay down rules for who their daughters can marry – a person with a disability or someone who is willing to marry their disabled daughter as a compromise.
While these situations may be an ideal one in their minds, it takes away the decision and autonomy of the woman with disability. This not only damages their sense of self but also takes away an essential element of their lives. In our social set-up, it is rare for a girl to initiate a conversation about her marriage. It is doubly difficult for the disabled woman.
Little do parents realize, they may not be around to support her forever.
Often parents don’t see the reason for them wanting to leave the security of their homes and take a chance on a new person and home, not realizing that the women in question are able enough to not only desire but also manage their relationships and live outside the comfort zones of their parents’ homes. Little do they realize, they may not be around to support her forever.
So, is it fair to expect her to be a maiden aunt in her sibling’s house or for a relative to take on the responsibility where there may be a different course of action? This isolates them in their own homes. When they see the family taking an inordinate amount of interest in getting a sibling married while they wait their turn, it diminishes them as individuals. Why the discrimination? Why the lack of faith in the decisions made by disabled daughters?
In the world of social media and internet, there are matrimonial websites, dating platforms where women with disabilities may choose to make their presence known. There too, some families are reticent about revealing the disability which leaves the door open for further disappointment. Why the secrecy and shame? If they believe it will help to get the process rolling, they are oh so wrong. A woman has her identity intact despite her disability and sees no reason to hide it.
Also Read: Love And Dating For Women With Disabilities
When a conversation is initiated by the women in question, often the inaccessibility of the matrimonial platforms necessitates the help of a sighted person. This in itself is a hindrance where constant interaction is needed. Taking help opens the route to opinions from others, which under other circumstances, would be alright if the autonomy of the disabled person is not questioned.
But, it is often seen that the helpers soon lose interest in the process, leaving the woman at a disadvantage. The story doesn’t end here. How to constantly badger the family to pay heed to what she wants? Everybody goes about their lives leaving the disabled woman in a position to have to ask again and again. Why should it be so? Why not follow through like they would for a non-disabled ward?
Then there are the women who are exposed to like-minded disabled men in their work or education spaces. Here they have the chance to choose their partners themselves. While in some cases, families are accepting of the choices, there are many who while scrutinizing, also end up passing judgement on the basis of caste, community and even disability.
Everybody goes about their lives leaving the disabled woman in a position to have to ask again and again.
There are cases where parents of disabled women explicitly don’t want disabled men as their daughters’ partners. Reasons vary from the concern of managing on their own to simply wanting “better”. How then will there ever be a chance for them to find their partners?
Then there are the unfortunate women who along with their disability have the added disadvantage of being divorced or widowed. Often, the need for remarrying is considered unnecessary. Instead of encouraging and counselling her to move ahead with another partner if they so desire, it is just expected she will stay at home with family this is perfect as long the decision is not taken away from her.
Since the process of finding a spouse/partner is difficult, to begin with, the rigidity in choosing on the part of the parents/caregivers only compounds an already dire situation. It needs to be understood that disability in no way diminishes or takes from the woman her right to choose her partner. Why then can’t the process be made taking into consideration her right to choose and help her to make the right choice, instead of curbing her liberty?
Featured Image Credit: Hindustan Times