Top – ‘I’m divorced, so Sikh men don’t want me’

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Minreet Kaur

At 27, Minreet Kaur married a person she met by way of a Sikh temple in west London. It turned out to be a catastrophe, and inside a 12 months she was again house along with her dad and mom. For 10 years now she has been hoping to search out one other husband, however has reached a bitter conclusion: most Sikh males do not need to marry a divorcee.

“If you happen to divorce me, you’ll by no means marry once more,” my husband shouted at me earlier than I left him. He stated it to harm me, however he knew it might grow to be true. And so did I.

Divorce is shameful within the Sikh neighborhood, particularly for girls.

To start with I used to be ashamed myself. I felt soiled and used. How might I have a look at one other man once I knew he would regard me as used items?

Different folks bolstered this sense.

My grandma in London instructed me I ought to have labored at my marriage, regardless that she knew what I had been by way of. My dad’s household in India stated they had been disillusioned that I used to be house; I used to be a shame to them. My dad and mom supported me 100% however I felt I had allow them to down.

For 5 years I hardly went out, however in 2013 I began to look once more for a associate.

Once I requested folks to look out for an appropriate man for me they might usually be completely satisfied to assist. They might begin asking questions – how previous I used to be, the place I lived, the place I labored – however as quickly as instructed them I used to be divorced, their facial features modified. It was a glance that stated, “we will not show you how to”.

“I will let you understand,” they instructed me.

My marriage had been semi-arranged. Folks saved telling me I used to be getting previous and placing strain on me to marry, so I requested the temple in Southall to introduce me to somebody.

After my divorce, once I began searching for a brand new husband, I went to the Hounslow temple to register in its matrimonial e-book. I knew the temple would solely introduce me to members of my very own caste, regardless that caste is not vital to me. However what I did not know was that, since I used to be a divorcee, they might solely introduce me to divorced males.

As soon as the volunteer noticed my particulars on the shape I had crammed in he stated: “Listed here are two males who’re divorced – they’re the one ones appropriate for you.”

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Women and men are equal within the Sikh religion

However in at the least two temples I’ve seen divorced males being launched to ladies who’ve by no means beforehand married. So why cannot divorced ladies be launched to males who haven’t been married earlier than? It is as if males can by no means be answerable for a divorce, solely ladies.

I requested the person accountable for the Hounslow temple’s matrimonial service, Mr Grewal, to clarify this to me and he instructed me it wasn’t his selection – it was the lads searching for a bride, and their dad and mom, who stated they did not desire a divorcee.

“They aren’t going to simply accept divorce, because it should not occur within the Sikh neighborhood, if we observe the religion,” he stated.

However truly Sikhs do get divorced generally, identical to everybody else. The 2018 British Sikh Report says that 4% have been divorced and one other 1% have separated. A few of those that admit to having been divorced could have remarried, however I am fairly certain {that a} bigger quantity tick the “single” field regardless that they’re divorced – it is such a taboo.

As divorce turns into extra frequent, attitudes will probably change. Youthful folks have instructed me it isn’t such an enormous problem for them. However in my technology, even individuals who have divorced sisters or daughters in their very own household will nonetheless decide one other divorced lady exterior their household.

These are the sorts of issues folks say to me: “You might be too previous to have youngsters, you’ll discover it arduous to satisfy somebody now – you’ve got left it too late. You need to simply discover anybody and marry them.”

(Really, at 38 I am not too previous to have kids. It is simply one other prejudice.)

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A marriage in Sri Guru Singh Sabha Sikh temple, Southall, in 2017

Typically I am instructed: “Min, it’ll be very tough to satisfy somebody within the UK, you are higher off assembly somebody in India.”

When my mum requested considered one of her buddy’s sons if he knew anybody for me, he instructed us I used to be like a “scratched automotive”.

I do know I’ve made issues tough for myself by trying not only for a Sikh however for a turbanned Sikh. There are greater than 22,000 Sikhs in Hounslow, so most likely 11,000 are males. Solely a small proportion of them are in the best age group, and single. And of those that are, many do not put on a turban.

The turban is vital to me, although. Religion is vital to me – the Sikh religion that claims that women and men are equal and that we must always not decide each other.

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Sikh males in London, in 1935 – it’s now extra frequent to satisfy Sikh males who don’t put on a turban

I do not need to meet males who’re simply out for amusing and do not need to quiet down. However nor do I need to meet males who desire a housekeeper fairly than a spouse, and ask questions like, “are you able to cook dinner?” the primary time we meet. I’m an impartial one that needs a associate for companionship.

Final month I used to be launched to somebody by way of a buddy. It was a well-recognized story. He stated he wasn’t considering a divorcee. He was in his 40s, however he anticipated ladies to come back with no historical past.

After assembly about 40 totally different males over the past 10 years, it is solely in the previous few months that I’ve begun to consider contemplating non-turbanned Sikhs, and even non-Sikhs. A few of my buddies have already taken this step.

By telling my story I’m hoping I’ll assist to take away the stigma of being a divorced lady. Possibly it can encourage extra ladies to talk up. And if ladies are trapped in an abusive marriage due to the taboo of divorce, I’d urge them to go away. We’re human beings, and we should be handled equally.

Minreet Kaur is a henna artist and a contract journalist who works for the BBC

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