Q: Is working after marriage a crime?

Working after marriage is often a debatable topic.

Ideal situation: The question is not if women should work after getting married or not. The question is whether she wants to. If she does not wish to work, she should not be forced to do so by her husband and her in-laws, in greed of a double income. Meanwhile, if she chooses to work, they should support her.

Real situation: While every family holds a different opinion about their daughter-in-law being in an office space, all families tend to put up the sole responsibility of the household on the woman’s shoulders. So whether she decides to work or not, the bottom line is that she is supposed to comply with the choices of other family members. ‘Put others first’ - as she is often taught since childhood.

However strong a woman might be, she often ends up ‘obeying’ the wishes of her new family. We share some ways in which women who choose to work after marriage are often treated as criminals:

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  1. Women must first bear children

A woman is ‘expected’ to bear children, especially a son, as her duty towards taking forward the family’s lineage. This means that there is often undue pressure on the woman to have children as soon as possible, even if that means giving up her job. And it does not matter whether she is ready to take the responsibility of a child or not.

  1. Women should manage the household effectively

A woman who is given the ‘permission’ to work is often done so only on the prior agreement that she will still be able to manage all household and familial responsibilities, effectively, even while working. This includes cooking food, cleaning the house and completing all the chores.

  1. Family comes first for a ‘sanskari bahu’ ( daughter-in-law with a good upbringing) A woman must ensure that she performs well as a ‘bahu’ (daughter-in-law), even if it means that she cannot perform well professionally. Family should be her first priority and she should remember that her husband’s job is much more important than hers. This means that the woman needs to be present for all occasions and festivals, even if her husband has an important meeting to attend to.
  1. Women must stay away from certain professions and all male colleagues A woman’s profession and her colleagues need to be approved by family members before ‘allowing’ her to work. The woman is often asked to stay away from male colleagues and find a workplace with more women. Professions that involve travel or long hours are mostly rejected, such as that of an air hostess. Certain professions, such as that of a teacher, are considered more desirable because of the longer holidays and the good impression it creates in society.
  1. It is all a ‘woman’s job’

The husband does not need to help a woman in household chores at all, as it is not a ‘man’s job.’ Today, especially in the urban areas, husbands are becoming more supportive and helpful in the household work. However, the family does not really appreciate the husband having to pitch in for what is considered as the woman’s responsibility.

  1. No financial independence for a woman

Even if women earn, they do not have economic independence in the truest sense. While some families want women to work only due to the greed for double income,  some allow the woman to work on the basis that she should handover all her income to the in-laws. Should a woman refuse to pay up, the in-laws end up draining her income in indirect ways.

It must be noted that as per Married Women’s Property Act (MWP), all salary income that a woman generates and the ‘streedhan’ that she inherits from her parents, solely belongs to the woman. She is legally given the right to keep it all to herself, unless she chooses to hand it over.

What we are saying is really simple. Let’s close this huge gap between the real situation and the ideal situation. Let us all stand in support of what women empowerment really is i.e. respecting her choices and her rights in every way, while empowering her to do the same!