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Out Of Wedlock Pregnancies, Single Motherhood. Are We Finally Okay With These Or Is It Limited To Bollywood?

May 08, 2019 | by Akanksha Narang

Neena Gupta ruled the television industry in the 80s and 90s with her unconventional choices and power-packed performances. During that time, she moved her focus from Bollywood when she wasn’t getting meaty roles and went on to raise a child, all on her own. A strong-willed woman, Neena parented a child out of wedlock, a decision that couldn’t have been easy given that we still live in a society that still frowns upon any relationship outside of marriage. It was a move way ahead of its time. The country wasn’t ready and she received a lot of flak, but she stood firm. She returned to the screen in a rather unconventional role in Badhai Ho where her character defied societal norms as she got pregnant at an age where you’re not even supposed to have a sex life, or so they tell you!

Now, as she is all set to play the role of Akshay Kumar’s mother in Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi, we’re glad to see more of her in Bollywood. Her stance on life not just inspires us but makes us reflect on a lot of things. It makes us wonder, where are we when it comes to accepting women as a single parent? As a nation, have we arrived yet? Or are we still struggling to gulp down the fact that parenting has nothing to do with marriage?

Does it have to be an accident?

When Neha Dhupia married long-term boyfriend Angad Bedi, she was already pregnant. Arjun Rampal and Gabriella Demetriades are very much pregnant, with no wedding around the corner. We’re sure there’s a section of society still uncomfortable with this. But at the same time, it’s not as difficult for them, as it was for Neena Gupta back in her time. And what does that mean? India is definitely leaping forward and changing its mindset, one generation at a time. We aren’t saying our regular middle class families will encourage their daughters to get pregnant out of wedlock. Pre-marital sex is frowned upon, making a baby will push people over the edge. But is it so bad? Does it have to be an accident? Can’t we *choose* to have a baby with someone we love, without a marriage certificate? A majority of our society isn’t there yet, but hopefully we’ll get there soon.

To parent or not to parent

The discussion here is a subset of a bigger problem. That simply put, women in India do not have enough choice on reproduction. If you’re married, you must have a baby. If you’re single, you better not make kids. But let’s not be too negative here. Things are getting better, for sure. Several women are opting to be single mothers and a lot of women are choosing to not reproduce. Be it Sushmita Sen, or more recently, Ekta Kapoor, women are exercising their right to choose. It’s ‘my body, my rules’ all the way! which is worth applauding.

Women are choosing not to marry

This is the best time for India – with live-in couples having rights similar to those of legally wedded ones. Both the man and woman are bound to participate in the upbringing of the child they happened to make together. The responsibility doesn’t remain just with the women, unless they choose to. We’re independent, ambitious and perfectly capable of financing ourselves. We’re becoming the men we wanted to marry! With legal support and acknowledgement, women don’t have to get married to be able to have kids. Which is one of the reasons why several millennial women are choosing not to marry. All you need is the confidence…and of course, the sperm!

Akanksha Narang

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