A T T I T U D E S OF PUNJAB U N I V E R S I T Y W O M A N S T U D E N...
A T T I T U D E S OF PUNJAB
U N I V E R S I T Y W O M A N S T U D E N T S
MISS K U L W A N T A N A N D *
T O W A R D S MARRIAGE A N D
FAMILY
The importance of the institutions of University hostels. There were 262 woman
family and marriage has been very well students in the two hostels. Out of those,
emphasised in sociology. It has been stated eight were married and four were senior
that family and marriage are based on employees. The remaining 250 students were
biopsychological foundations and have great taken for the purpose of the interview. The
sociological implications.
sample falls within the age group of 16 to
28 years.
India has its typical forms of family and
marriage. The joint family is a prominent
Copies of a questionnaire on the subject
feature of the Indian society. Marriage is of marriage and family were distributed to
considered to be universal. Divorce, though the students in their rooms and after a week
[legally sanctioned, is not socially approved. they were collected. The students were
People still consider marriage as an assured complete anonymity as they were
indissoluble tie between husband and wife. not required to write their names or room
Widow remarriage is still looked down upon numbers.
by the people and strict parental control is
exercised in the selection of a spouse.
Opinions of respondents regarding the
At present profound and rapid changes nature, size and structure of the family
are taking place in these institutions of our in which they would prefer to live after
society. It appears that the impact of marriage were solicited in the questionnaire.
modern education is being felt by our They were asked to state their views
womenfolk especially in colleges and regarding the selection of a spouse, whether
universities and that they have different they were free to choose their partners,
attitudes regarding marriage and family in whether they would like to have the consent
contrast to girls of a few decades ago.
of their parents in their selection of spouses
and whether they would yield to their
METHOD AND SAMPLE
wishes if their parents objected to their
The subjects were the woman students choice. They were also asked to state their
of M.A., Part I, M.A., Part II and B.Sc, views on the relative status of husband and
Honours and resident in the Panjab wife in the family.
*Miss Anand is a Lecturer in Sociology, Punjab University, Chandigarh.

88
M I S S K U L W A N T A N A N D
Down through the centuries, the husband not favour divorce and consider it to be
of the father has been recognised as the head disgraceful for Indian women to go in
of the family. T h e common view is t h a t a for divorce. Twenty-eight per cent of the
certain amount of respect must be given to girls opined t h a t women should seek divorce
the head of the family and t h a t his authority in case of serious differences as it is really if
must be respected. In this survey we found degrading to live a cat and dog's life. This
that twenty per cent of the girls still minority may indicate the direction of change
reaffirmed the traditional view and held t h a t in attitudes t h a t has come towards the
the status of the wife should be subordinate concept of divorce.
to t h a t of the husband. But 77 per cent of
T h e students were further asked to s t a t e s
the girls in the survey maintained t h a t both whether or not there should be remarriage
husband and wife should enjoy equal status after divorce. Again a change in the trend
in the family. In a democratic society, the of attitudes is seen when 48 per cent of those
husband and wife should be on an equal in favour of divorce asserted that a women
footing as each is a counterpart of the should remarry after divorce. The following
other. T h r e e per cent of the girls held the table shows the attitudes of the girls
view t h a t wife should enjoy a higher status towards remarriage after divorce:—
in the home as she is the queen of the house.
Attitudes of the respondents towards
divorce were considered. In India the very
idea of divorce was generally found
unacceptable. Eeven in the Dharamshastra
strict fidelity and devotion to the husband
are stressed as the guiding principles of a
woman's life. Dr. Radhakrishnan says:
" T h e marriage relation should be regarded
normally as permanent. Divorce should be
resorted to only in extreme cases of hardship,
While about half the girls who were in
where married life is absolutely impossible. favour of divorce were also in favour of
It is a drastic remedy which uproots one's remarriage after divorce. T h e other half
whole life, and involves other lives as well. would not permit them remarriage. But
T h e dogma of indissolubility of marriage is there was some inconsistency in the views
not final, yet it is the ideal."
of some of those who were against the idea
1 "Eve n ou r
national leaders on the floor of the assembly, of divorce. For how does one explain only
when the bill was discussed, argued t h a t if 53 girls who were against divorce were in
the legislation was allowed to interfere with favour of remarriage after divorce, unless
the sacrament of marriage, the institution they were really in favour of divorce itself.
of marriage would break down."
T h e majority favoured either divorce or
2
remarriage after divorce.
T h e laws of marriage and divorce have
'been and can be changed and improved but
A change has indeed been brought in the
their role is essentially unimportant in attitudes regarding widow remarriage. T h e
India as is evident from the opinions of the survey revealed t h a t 74 per cent of the
girls interviewed. 66 per cent of them do respondents were in favour of widow
1 S. Radhakrishnan, Religion and Society, London: Allen and Unwin, 1956, pp. 183-84.
2K. M. Kapadia, Family and Marriage in India, London: Oxford University Press, 1958.

ATTITUDES OF PUNJAB UNIVERSITY WOMEN STUDENTS TOWARDS MARRIAGE
89
remarriage and only 24 per cent of them of them asserted that they would certainly
were against it showing thereby that the like to have the consent of their parents.
consensus of opinion was definitely in Only one per cent of them did not think
favour of it. Some of those who favoured it necessary to have the consent of parents.
it, had remarked that a widow should
They were further asked to state what
remarry provided she was very young and they would do if their parents objected to
did not have any issue or she was illiterate their choice. Sixty-four per cent of the girls
and she had no one to depend upon.
said that they would yield to the wishes of
Twenty-four per cent of the respondents their parents showing thereby that they still
were still hostile to the idea of widow had great respect for parental authority. At
remarriage and asserted that in India, a the same time 22 per cent of the girls said
woman married only once in her life and that they would not yield to their parents.
she could think of only one man as her Is this an indication that parental authority
husband. One per cent remarked that the is beginning to be challenged? Seven per
decision whether or not to remarry should cent of the girls said that their decision
be left to the person concerned.
would depend upon the circumstances and
The above paragraphs show that a large another seven per cent did not give any
majority favoured widow remarriage,
response.
whereas a lesser number of girls favoured
Type of family preferred.—Asked about
marriage after divorce. Hence a comparison the type of family in which they would
is made between those who favour widow prefer to live after marriage, a surprisingly
remarriage and those who favour marriage high proportion, i.e. 43 per cent, preferred
after divorce.
to live with the in-laws. They opined that
TABLE 2
there was security in a joint family.
ATTITUDES OF RESPONDENT TO REMARRIAGE FOR
They were further asked to state the
WIDOWS AND DIVORCEES
nature of their family structure. In order
to understand their aspirations, an attempt
had been made to establish a correlation
between the present structure of the family
in which they lived and the structure of the
family in which they would prefer to live
after marriage.
Thirty-seven per cent of the girls favoured
remarriage for divorcees or widows. But 22
TABLE 3
per cent still have the traditional view and
RESPONDENTS BY THEIR PRESENT AND PREFERED
NATURE OF FAMILY.
believe that there should be no remarriage
under any circumstances. One surprising
fact is that two per cent favoured marriage
after divorce but they were against widow
remarriage.
Choice of spouse.—Not much change is
found in the ideas of the girls regarding the
selection and choice of the future spouse.
J . F . : Here is meant a family in which besides the
Previously the choice was left entirely to
respondents' parents and unmarried brothers
the parents and a girl had no voice in
and sisters, other members like married sons
and their children or either of grand-parents
settling the issue. Even now 99 per cent
or some other relatives live.

90
M I S S KULWANT ANAND
The table clearly shows that out of those upon one's circumstances. Sometimes the
who come from some type of joint family, circumstances took such a turn that one
68 per cent would prefer to live in a joint was forced to go against one's wishes. Here
family with their in-laws and only 27 per again six per cent did not give any response
cent preferred to live in a nuclear family to the question.
showing thereby that those who lived in joint
families had greater preference for such
SIZE OF FAMILY
families than those who lived in nuclear
Regarding the size of the family, the
families. On the other hand, out of those modern trend was towards small size
who came from nuclear families, only 42 families. At present, there is a tendency to
per cent preferred to stay with the in-laws. limit the size of the family as the smaller
But one thing is worth noting, viz., that the number of children make a higher standard
number of students living in joint families of living possible.
was less, whereas the number of students
who desired to live with in-laws was
The following table shows the number of
greater.
children the girls would like to have.
The girls were also aware of the
TABLE 4
difficulties and restrictions which they were RESPONDENTS BY IDEAL NUMBER OF CHILDREN PREFERRED
likely to experience in living with their
Ideal Size No. of Respondents
inlaws and presumably because of this 43
1 2
2 91
per cent preferred to live in the nuclear
3 89
family lowered the standard of living. They
4 34
5' 1
did not like to live with the in-laws, because
6 5
they wanted to avoid quarrels and
none 7
misunderstandings with them. The nagging
Total 229
of in-laws often upset the stability of
family life. Moreover, living in a joint
Nearly 80 per cent of the respondents
family lowered the standard of living. They asserted that one should have at the most
believed that distance enhanced affection, three children and only a small minority
and lent charm to life.
wanted to have more than three children.
Eight per cent did not give a definite Still then were six girls who would prefer
opinion and remarked that it depended to have five children.