Dynamics of marriage in rural India: an experience of young married women

Sudeshna Ghosh, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Subrata Lahiri, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

The practice of early marriage in rural India is deeply rooted in cultural values and grounded in social structures. Despite laws prohibiting marriage before legal age, the practice is well-prevalent in the country. Early marriage has social, economic and health impact on young brides. The paper attempts to understand the marital process, practice of dowry, problem faced after arriving marital home and adjustment mechanism among young women in rural India and to examine the level and determinants of marital happiness. Multi-stage sampling technique was used to cover a sample of 654 married women, 13-24 years in rural West Bengal, India. The mean age at marriage was 16 years for women in the study area. Half of them reported of no mental preparation before marriage. One-fourth felt lonely, 10 percent were frightened and 14 percent were unhappy due to problem with in-laws/husband on arriving marital home. One-third reported they had to face problem in adjustment in the first year of marriage and majority showed reaction of emotional diffusing predominantly by crying. About 74 percent women reported dowry was demanded. Fifteen percent had faced violence due to dowry. Half of them reported husbands were not involved in violence but did not support them. In order to understand the effect of selected socioeconomic and demographic correlates on the likelihood of having marital happiness, two sets of logistic regression models were used. Results indicate that the odds of having marital happiness were significantly higher for women with spousal education of secondary level or more; less household workloads; spousal age difference of 5 years or more; belonged to better wealth tertile; who did not had current problem in adjustment; who could decide on spending husband’s income; had less spousal difference in opinion and who wished to have the same life partner.

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Presented in Session 33: Women's status and marriage in developing countries