May 15 is the International Day of Families celebrated under the United Nations. The theme this year is ‘Families and inclusive societies’ which also happens to be Sustainable Development Goal 16. Last year’s theme was about family’s role in education and well-being [of the children].
We at The News on Sunday take this opportunity to explore the idea of family in our context which, like everywhere else, is fluid and evolving over time. With all the positive overtones attached with the concept, family remains a complex idea. If the UN sees the families’ role in building peaceful and inclusive societies, we want to see if that is a realistic expectation.
This is a time, we feel, to have a more open conversation on the idea, to look at the pros and cons, and see if it is possible to bring more fairness in the conception. As different cultures develop and mature at a different pace, it is perhaps time to see where we in this country stand in terms of the integrity of family or what narrow understanding of family we have. Are we willing to go beyond the rigid concepts of joint, nuclear and extended families to accept other options as normal?
The popular culture, especially the television drama and films made in the region and avidly watched here, are so far averse to any change in the positive, almost heavenly, notion of family. They propagate conformity and discourage any diversion from the norm.
In the Special Report, therefore, we have a piece on how single men but mostly women are opting out of the stringent family structure, and making homes that are a lot more liberating for them.
Women, we discover, get the worst part of the deal because they remain the repository of the family ‘honour’. All or most morality is attached with how the women conduct themselves. In some cases where they defy the family and choose a life partner, they are physically eliminated in the name of family honour.
Read also: Inside the family
These are issues that do not get discussed as family is celebrated and glorified as an institution that leads to “absolute fulfillment”. We do acknowledge the family’s role in providing love, care, trust and much else but do not dwell on it for fear of stating the obvious.