Mass marriages became very popular in India after the traditional dowry system, wherein the woman’s family would give the man a large marriage gift in exchange for marrying the daughter, was outlawed in the 1980s. (Despite being outlawed, this undoubtedly still occurs in certain areas of India.) Mass marriages are popular for their inexpensiveness and their simplicity.
According to BBC, last month in Shahdol, women arrived to participate in the ceremony only to allegedly find that they had to first submit to a virginity test. During a virginity test, a female doctor performs a thorough physical examination to determine whether or not the young woman is a virgin. If the doctor determines that the woman is not a virgin, then she is not given a badge to participate in the ceremony.
The Indian National Commission for Women is greatly distressed by the alleged virginity tests, and they are collecting information from individuals who witnessed or participated in the virginity tests. The senior administration officials in Shahdol deny that any virginity tests took place before the ceremony.
No one really cares about the man’s virginity, but the woman is devalued if she has engaged in any type of sex before marriage. Double standards much? This makes me angry on so many levels… I cannot help but think of a rape survivor being told that she cannot participate in the mass marriage ceremony. We cannot sit quietly and allow women anywhere to be subjected to such treatment; we must speak up. Seriously, it seems like marriage causes trouble everywhere it goes.
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