How difficult it is for a person with physical disability to find a life partner! I never thought it is such difficult till I got married to my best friend, and people started to looking at me like a magic solution maker who despite being physically challenged managed to marry a “normal’ person (I wonder when most of us feel themselves NORMAL!!) I always recall my friend, Pinky Patel’s remarks “who is normal anyway??” Many people asked me how I managed to do it! Some people bluntly asked that… Did I manage to get pregnant that’s why a normal person married me out of duty? I never cease to get surprised by the way people conceive, though I am yet to conceive after two years of my marriage.
Well…any way leaving all these things, I seriously started looking at the idea of being a match maker for disabled (with all my knowledge of marrying a normal person!!). I wanted to help as many as I can! But folks… it’s not so easy understanding especially minds of differently abled (though I am also one!)
® Many of the differently abled, doesn’t feel them normal. Either super human or sub human.
® Their parents think either they are super human beings, who can achieve everything, or just helpless creatures god made to punish them and completely ignore their existence.
® In this process, in many cases, parents and environment around them forgets to pat on their back, for their struggle or achievement.
® So a differently abled man/woman caught in a web on how to look for their perfect mate. They neither can’t ask their parents, nor search for themselves.
® The conventional channels of meeting and getting to know people rarely work for differently abled people, because they don’t stand equal in the race of beauty, position, money etc…
® The basic understanding of their particular disability and with what kinds of disabled they can gel well, such information is not available anywhere.
® Virtual platforms and meeting places are full of people whose credentials and trustworthiness is hard to verify.
® Many parents fail to understand and explain the importance life partner to differently abled person; they push them to be financially independent. They pursue their careers with minute details.
® In many a cases, parents see earning differently abled men/women as their back-up system in old-age. Obviously, they took not only “mere ankhon ka tara…” but also “hum ka budhape ka sahara” way too seriously.
® In out Indian culture, able-bodied men and women think that, match making is parents’ job and they know better. So the questioning of their judgment and their own pressures in selecting the right mate for their off spring is beyond question by anyone.
® For some people who have ill intentions in mind, virtual platforms and online dating aiding as tool in getting to know differently abled. Many differently abled, with their compassionate mind (Most of the time!) become soft targets.
® To show sympathy on disabled by marrying them and become great in minds of people is also one issue that needs to tackle (because a marriage and long-lasting relationship doesn’t work on sympathetic factors.)
® Indian marriage society where money plays a key role, differently abled are often viewed as a burden to be offloaded with much dowry (in case of woman) and will sell only if certain government job with decent income is there (in case of men)
® Truth and transparency is rare among match-makers, who work for only money.
® Misconceptions and myths about disability: for ex. Many deaf/mute girls feel and think that they should invariably marry a person with same disability otherwise they wouldn’t be understood and harassed. I interacted with a deaf community where two deaf women marrying one deaf man is common.
® Caste factors- unable to come out of the fixed mould of caste, creed, same income level etc… I wonder when disability itself doesn’t offer comfort zone… what is the use of finding more comfort zones and being caught in the whirlwind of expectations?
® Misconceptions of child bearing in case of women and also wrong notion that disability pass on to their children too.
So my dear friends… what we need to do! Here are some solutions/suggestions…i can make to the community of us, (these may not be the complete remedy.. but may offer some clues!) Let’s also call it the basic version of Indian differently abled match-making guide…too long a name…huh? Sorry at present can’t help. So here goes the gist of the list:
- More transparent the differently abled community about marriage
- Focused matrimony services (more than just creating a link for physically challenged in matrimony sites.)
- Counseling for parents
- Awareness about the adult issues to disabled men and women.
- More “swayamvar” kind of platforms for differently abled
- Dating and friendship services for the differently abled locally
- More awareness programs dispelling the myths.
- Parental support and guidance in understanding the issues.
- Thinking out-of-the box
- Cohesiveness in decision making
- Giving opportunity to experience life out of home for the disabled.
- An informal meeting place organized by NGO’s to meet people.
- Strengthening of support system
- Psycho social support and pre-marital counseling
- More success stories of differently abled marriages should be published.
- Group counseling for disabled men and women
- Peer-based activities and services
So friends… these are some of my thoughts… strangely I remember an anecdote of reality how Israeli mothers brings up their child. It seems that when the child is learning to walk, she never stands before him/her, but always behind. Like a support system in case child falls back. She doesn’t want to stand before the child giving them a false sense of security. I feel by raising a disabled child and seeing them through adulthood, most of the parents still blocking their way to a life partner, giving them a false sense of security.
Thanks for reading. Please think and act.