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Leading a normal life like everyone else is almost impossible for a divorced woman, more so for a divorced single mother in India. Regardless of how financially independent she is, being successful in her career, skillfully managing work and motherhood single-handedly, she is branded for life as an impure woman, a family-breaker, and a humiliation to her family.

Any woman, especially a mother would contemplate her decision to opt for a divorce more than a gazillion times. It is definitely not a choice she makes in a jiff. She only walks out of a marriage when she realizes that it is beyond repair. It takes a ton of bravery to do that especially as a mother. However, instead of empathizing with her, our society labels her as a family-breaker, bad mother, self-centered, egoistic, opinionated, bossy, and rebellious woman. The society goes to the extent of questioning the legitimacy of her child if the biological father is not in the picture after the divorce.

Every woman, before going in for a divorce is very well aware of how gruelling her life would be afterwards. With a child(ren) towing behind, she knows exactly how the insensitive society is going to treat her and her child(ren). Yet, if she takes such a life-changing decision, she deserves to be saluted for her immense courage and confidence.

No one bothers to think about the trauma that she had been through or the reason that made her take such a drastic decision in her life. Nobody bothers to ask if she is doing alright or if she needs any help. People simply take the liberty to criticize her, assassinate her character, and defame her without knowing even a part of her story.

There are so many taboos that chase a divorced single mother throughout her life. The stigma doesn’t let her live even if she is trying to remarry or is happily remarried. The taboo hunts her down wherever she goes and whatever she does. Such is the society we live in today.

Tabooed in her own family

The extended family, family friends, neighbours and in some cases even her own parents consider her a burden and a dishonour to the family name. She doesn’t get invited to weddings and auspicious events. Her very presence is seen as a negative vibe or bad luck to her own younger siblings’ marriage or other auspicious ceremonies.

Tabooed at workplace

Regardless of owning an impressive resume and being talented, landing a job as a single mother is an arduous job. She gets interrogated with so many unwanted questions and faces severe prejudice. Finally, if she manages to bag a job, she has to deal with sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances. When she turns them down, she is burdened with extra work, over time or night shifts, and is denied the promotion or increment that she deserves. Some pervy men simply presume that just because she is a divorced single mother, she is asking for it and will be an easy-catch.

Every time she socializes with her male colleagues or boss, the other co-workers take the liberty to assassinate her character. Further, if she is rewarded with a promotion or increment, for her dedication and hard work, some co-workers assume that she might have “adjusted” to the boss’s demands.

Tabooed at her child(ren)’s school

Enrolling her child(ren) in a reputed school seems almost impossible in some cities. Despite being granted divorce and permanent sole custody of her child(ren), some schools demand the biological father’s details or consent.

Even her child(ren)’s normal outbursts or mischiefs or bad grades are chalked down to them growing up without the presence of a father. She is deemed as an unfit mother who is unable to discipline her child(ren).

Tabooed by her own friends and relatives

Once she announces her separation/divorce to her friends, some of them distance themselves from her. Some friends and relatives feel insecure around her when their husbands are present, because they think that she’ll snatch their husbands from them. Some just stop sharing happy moments of their lives because they believe her jealousy would lead to nazar/dhristi and will bring ill-luck into their lives. On the other hand, some husbands restrict their wives from being friends with her because they feel that she might be a bad influence on their wives. Some male friends or husbands or her friends/relatives try to take advantage of her, just because they assume she’ll be sexually frustrated and will give in easily.

Tabooed in the Dating/Matrimonial arena

Divorced single mothers are considered impure and their child(ren) are considered as a burden to the new man in her life. Hence, the society considers a divorced single mother lucky, if any man agrees to marry her and accept her child(ren). Her consent or happiness is not even a topic of discussion.

Furthermore, our society has an unsaid rule that a divorced woman, with or without a child is deemed to marry only a divorced or widowed man. Some men themselves, do not prefer to date or marry a divorced single mother. There are some cases where men take advantage of such women, misuse them in the name of love, commitment and relationship and then break up once they have got bored with them or found someone better.

Tabooed while getting documents for her or her child(ren)

Divorced single mothers, despite having sole custody of their child(ren) face so many complications in obtaining basic documents or opening bank accounts for their children. Our system is still highly patriarchal and narrow minded that every other document needs the biological father’s details or NOC. She then has to produce innumerable documents to prove the legitimacy of the child(ren) and that she is been deemed as the permanent and sole custodian of the child(ren). To get all this done, she has to run from pillar to post which consumes double the time than it would for other people.

The rate of divorce being less in India isn’t something we should be proud of. Grandma and grandpa being married for 60-70 years isn’t actually an achievement. There might be an untold tale that grandma or even some of our mothers never tell the world because of the fear of being judged and branded for life. Stop glorifying marriages that lasted for decades as if you had witnessed their entire life.

Compared to the previous decades, there is a significant increase in the rate of divorce in India. Regardless of the taboo associated with divorce, more and more women are valuing their safety, happiness, peace, self-respect, and well-being over the society’s misogynistic and conventional mindset. A woman choosing to walk out of a marriage is not going in her own brazen ways. She is choosing to stand up for herself, for her child(ren), and set an example for many other women who are imprisoned in an unhappy or toxic marriage. Divorce is not a sign of failure or the end of life. It is simply the beginning of a new chapter.

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