RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has made headlines by saying divorce is commoner in educated and affluent families because with education and affluence comes arrogance, as a result of which families fall apart. In the ancient days that Bhagwat reveres, India had affluent and educated men. It did not have affluent, educated women. They were denied equal inheritance rights and education, and kept at the complete mercy of male masters. Social customs meant women could not stand independently on their two feet, so divorce was not an option.
Education makes people uppity and demand rights, and this outrages those with power. In the era of US slavery, laws made it a crime to educate slaves, for education might give the blighters notions of freedom or equality. In British India, Macaulay and other grandees in London sought to create a cadre of educated Indians to help run the colony. But that idea was hated by the British stationed in India, who loved illiterate peasants (that posed no threat) but hated educated Indians (who were uppity enough to talk of independence).
Ancient Hinduism had no formal divorce procedures. But women could be thrown out by their husbands even on the most outrageous grounds or false rumours.
Bhagwat should celebrate the fact that such terrible gender inequality is now forbidden by the Indian Constitution. This declares there can be no discrimination on the grounds of religion, caste, race, sex, or place of birth. Sadly, all ancient traditions including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and other faiths practised all these forms of discrimination. The grey eminences that formulated the Constitution were educated, affluent and arrogant enough to ban the traditional discriminations of all religions.
Hindu tradition gave males power over property, marriage, occupation and all family matters. Marriages were financial deals between parents entailing dowry payments. Child marriage was standard. Katherine Mayo's 'Mother India' lists examples of six-year-old girls hospitalised with crushed pelvises after forced sex with older husbands, who nevertheless wanted their wives back to meet their sexual needs.
Sati condemned women to be burned on the funeral pyres of their late husbands. Men were not expected to immolate themselves on their late wives' pyres.
Fortunately, women are getting educated and affluent, and are no longer helpless pawns. They can think and act for themselves, including shedding undesirable husbands. Rising divorces are a sign that male tyranny is finally getting contested and punished. This is justice, not arrogance.
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