I grew up in a multicultural city as a visible minority. My parents, similar to many others, made it clear that my sisters and I were to marry someone within our community. This meant we were to find someone who was Indian and a Hindu. My parents shared a dislike and distrust for other ethnic minorities despite having friends from diverse backgrounds.
Indian movies and television dramas reinforce this notion that Indian women marry a respectful Indian man; someone who is from a similar cultural background. Some movies depict the main characters belonging to different faiths, for example, a Muslim woman falling in love with a Hindu man. This causes some controversy amongst individuals who believe their son or daughter should marry someone of a similar faith to their own.
The impact of interracial marriage on some women
Over the years, both in London and overseas, I supported a range of women who shared the impact of marrying someone from a different cultural background or faith. Some women explained that they were ostracised from their family of origin due to their interracial marriage. Other women explained feeling ashamed and guilty for marrying someone belonging to another culture.
In some cases, so-called honour-based violence and killings also take place. Some family members would rather their daughter, sister, or cousin be killed than her live or be married to someone who belongs to another faith. These family members justify their actions as necessary and blame their daughters for bringing shame to their families due to their interracial marriage.
Acceptance from communities, for some couples, is also tricky. Some women shared trying to integrate their partner within their culture by attending ceremonies and celebrations at a place of worship for example and experiencing people staring at them. Some women explained elders in the communities verbally expressed their disapproval whilst others chose to gossip. These women explained it was easier to distance themselves from these communities than to try and seek acceptance or approval.
It can thus, feel isolating for some women, especially for those who move cities or countries to be their partners. Some women shared feeling like they had done something wrong when in fact all they had done was choose to marry someone they love who happened to belong to another culture or faith. Some women explained trying to find support outside of their immediate family so from friends or work colleagues but not being able to fill the void.
Finally, some women shared the impact their interracial marriage had on their children. Some women disclosed that their children were bullied and in some cases struggled to be accepted by others. Some children also struggle with their sense of self and identity. Lack of representation in mainstream media and literature reinforces this notion of being different and not having a role model who looks like them.