“Bahu Rani, what are you wearing? What will people say? You are our Ghar Ki Izzat!”. My mother-in-law was quick to comment as I was stepping outside in a knee-length formal skirt to meet my friend for a cup of coffee.
But this wasn’t the first time. In the last 4 years of marriage, I have heard multiple times how I am ‘Ghar Ki Izzat’ (Respect of the family) and how my clothes, my career, or my motherhood choices can ruin it.
“How can you come so late from office? Tum Ghar ki Izzat Ho! What people will say!”
“Bahu Rani, it’s been 4 years, you are still not starting the family. People talk behind my back about how we still don’t have a grandchild. Think about Ghar Ki Izzat!”
But all these years, it made me wonder how I could be Ghar ki Izzat if I am being disrespected every day.
But is it just my story! Am I the only one who is being pushed to follow society’s regressive norms in the name of being Ghar Ki izzat? Unfortunately, I am not. There are so many patriarchal families, who label Daughters-in-law as Ghar Ki Izzat only to suppress them and their dreams and wishes.
Everyone wants daughter-in-law to change and do things because she is the respect of the family but no one wants to respect her. That’s the irony that many of us are still living in the 21st century.
So, here’s what I want to tell in-laws, who label daughters-in-law as the respect of family but disrespect them every passing day:
#1: How could Daughter-in-law be ‘respect of the family’, if there is no respect for her roots and family?
Though you insult her parents on every moment that you get. You tell her they didn’t teach her anything. They made her too independent or too opinionated or too free.
But, my question is if you can’t appreciate her parents who raised her and made endless sacrifices; if you don’t leave a single chance to show how her parents are less; then how could she ever be the respect of your family?
Her parents are her roots; They are the reasons why she exists; If you can’t respect them then how she could be the respect of your family!
#2: How could Daughter-in-law be ‘family’s respect’, if there is no respect for her dreams and choices?
When she wants to work, you don’t respect her choice; When she tells you, she isn’t ready to be a mother now, you don’t respect her choice; I wonder how could she be the respect of your family.
You disrespect her, insult her, shame her for making choices that were different from what you expected her to make and then call her ‘respect of your family’. If you can’t honor her existence, then how she could be your honor?
#3: How could Daughter-in-law be ‘respect of the family’, if you disrespect her every single day?
It baffles me how you tend to insult her or shame her or make her feel less every day. How you tend to treat her like an outsider! How you refuse to listen to her voice and walk over her just because she is married into your family.
While you call her ‘respect of the family’, you leave no stone unturned in using her as a doormat or a punching bag. Is this how the respect of the family needs to be treated?
So, here’s one suggestion: Stop labeling daughters-in-law as ‘Ghar ki izzat’ or family honor if you don’t want to respect them. You can’t just call them the respect of the family to force them to do things that they don’t want to.
So, next time before calling your Bahu Rani – Ghar ki izzat, make sure that you treat her like one!