Beyond moral policing: Why are Indians scared of unmarried men and women?

We, the single men and women, are living under constant threat of being judged, being labeled and being moral policed

Xenophobia, acrophobia, homophobia, theophobia, entomophobia ….every emotion and its fear has a name. But for some strange reason English language has failed to address the ever increasing and the most fatal fears suffered by Indian landlords and landladies, neighbours and relatives.

The mortal fear of unmarried boys and girls/ men and women living alone, roaming the streets alone, meeting people of opposite sex alone, renting a house out alone, inviting people of opposite sex to their apartments, of two people/ an unmarried couple checking into a hotel room together, holding hands on valentine’s day, or even deciding to live together under the same roof just as roommates or partners, basically just making a life for themselves on their own terms.

Funnily, all these fears vanish into thin air the moment the man has a woman wearing ek chutki sindur, or a mangalsutra or carrying his surname walks along with him. The tyranny of a society obsessed with marriage and family is that single men and women are under siege for choosing to live life the way they want to, at their own pace, as per their own convenience.

We may not be living under Taliban laws. But we, the single (unmarried but may be dating someone) people, are living under constant threat of being judged, being labeled and being moral policed.

Recently, in a thought-provoking and angry post, Mohit Agarwal, a resident of Palm Grove Heights, Gurgaon shared a humiliating experience he had to go throught just because he invited a female friend from Barcelona to stay at his place. However, what could have been a great experience of Indian mehman nawazi for the lady turned out to be a disturbing episode for both her and Agarwal.

Despite many rounds of mails for permission from the housing society to let his female friend stay at his legitimately rented house, he got the rudest shock of his life.

Being unmarried automatically meant people completely unrelated to him could play a role in decision and question his choices. The mail trail ended with a rude response from the society authorities:

“As per rule of the society female guest not permitted staying with unmarried boys, please in future do not request this type demand of your tenant.”

This is a real problem that single men and women face every day. More and more girls and boys are staying without their families for work and studies. But most importantly, many are moving out of their parent’s homes and living in rented apartments in the same city to live on their own terms. However, given the moral policing single men and women have to undergo, living alone is a daily hazard.

There are n-number of cases where fringe elements like Bajrang Dal, VHP or MNS have harassed unmarried couples or barged into house parties of a bunch of younsters to teach them Indian sanksar.  The fringe might be more violent in showing its hostility towards unmarried people, we call them regressive. But the truth is the “family crowd” in posh localities and guarded societies are equally hostile towards those living alone or with their friends.

It’s time people around us learnt to see more of us and felt comfortable around our existence. Because may be right now starting a family or getting married is not our priority, yes even in our late twenties or late thirties. May be we do not believe in marriage. May be we are not able to get married for reasons beyond your understanding. Just let us be. We are unmarried, not terrorists.