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Confucius said: "Marriage is the union of two different surnames, in friendship and in love, in order to continue the posterity of the former sages, and to furnish those who shall preside at the sacrifices to heaven and earth. People marry for many reasons, including legal, social, emotional, economical, spiritual, and religious.
Nowadays in Bangladesh, divorce is turning into an epidemic. Many women give divorce and most of them are not able enter into a second marriage. Whatever might be the reasons for divorce, society blames the women. Behaviour of the in-laws, economic insolvency, zero tolerance, etc. are some reasons why women get divorces. Males want educated, job holding wives but the same qualities become disqualifications if a woman wants divorce. No one wants a divorce, especially women. Women struggle to save their marriage, not for their own sake but for the future of her children. A "broken family" tag is a heavy burden for children.
Unmarried or widowed, divorced or abandoned, women are often severely disadvantaged, both socially and economically. They have little social legitimacy or control over their living arrangements and other circumstances. Religious and social traditions emphasise the symbolic importance and social legitimacy of a woman's first marriage and disparage women who are divorced. As a result, although women do remarry after being divorced or widowed, the conditions of the second marriages are often disadvantageous for them.
According to newspaper ads, the number of second marriage nowadays is about three times more than it was in the seventies. It means that both the rate of divorce and of second marriage is rising and social acceptance is increasing. In addition, second marriage is mainly a problem for educated middle-class people. The lower and upper-classes usually don't bother about society.
There is a wise saying: "It is impossible to love and be wise." But in case of second marriage we find that both bride and groom act well to love wisely. Here, love happens intentionally. They don't want to make the mistakes they made in the first marriage, and that's why they check every aspect of the would-be spouse. For many couples the second marriage is only a compromise for the sake of social security, family, children etc., though Rabindranath Tagore said: "Conjugal life without love is adultery."
Most males remarry, whatever their age, if they get divorced or their wives die. They don't need to bother about society and family members. Sometimes children arrange second marriage for their father after their mother's death so that there is someone to take care of him as they don't have time for him. Often, the opposite happens -- the children can't accept a stepmother. But situation is completely different for a woman -- whatever her age. No one thinks about her remarriage. If she wants to remarry, people think she is a characterless woman. If a young woman is divorced or widowed, she will find many persons around her to disturb her or defame her, but no one wants to marry her, whether she has any child or not. But if she has money or social position then it's a different case.
Usually an aged divorced or widowed man can marry a young unmarried woman, but divorced or widowed young women don't find any unmarried man for second marriage. A woman wishes to remarry a man who has children if she has her own childrento make a balance! There is a cruel joke for this situation: "My child and your child are together beating our child!"
We find lots of advertisements in newspapers for second marriage of men, and also a few for women, especially those who are rich and live abroad. Young women usually don't want to remarry because of the children, but after the establishment of her children she feels very lonely. Then there is no way to go back. A father generally wants to remarry to bring a mother for his children, then why can't a mother think of remarrying to have a father for her children?
Living alone is very hard for anyone, especially in old age. "Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god." Society has sympathy for a single woman who is either divorced or widowed. But for the same society's "pache loke kichu bole" fear women can't look for a new life.
The writer is Senior Lecturer, Department of English, ASA University.