Priya Vedi, a doctor in AIIMS, checked herself into a hotel in central Delhi and committed suicide. Prior to the act, she updated the status on her Facebook page, in which she accused her husband and his family of cruelty, and alleged that her husband was gay or bisexual. The marriage was never consummated, Vedi wrote; she also knew about the men her husband liaised with.

Several columnists, including some who are open about their own homosexuality, blamed the husband for not having the courage to reject the idea of entering a sham marriage. There are also those who wonder why Vedi, an educated professional, could not walk out of the marriage.

The real culprit is the country’s obsession with marriage. As long as marriage remains a milestone — to be achieved under a certain age, within the boundaries of caste, money and parental approval — it will yield stories of many Vedis. Homosexuality within the context of ‘Indian culture’ is seen either as a disease or a lifestyle choice. In reality it’s neither. Even in a majority of educated, aware families, marriage is looked at as a cure for homosexuality. Just as much as marriage is seen as a panacea for troubled men, for women it is an absolute must-have. Despite the progress made in women’s education in urban India, marriage remains the ultimate goal for the parents.

While occasional headlines scream about the rise of divorces, in reality, the number still remains less than 1 per cent. The advice most married women get from their families is to remain in the marriage, no matter how unhappy it makes them. Judging Priya for not demonstrating the courage to seek a divorce is as big a mistake as asking her husband to embrace his sexuality. Both Priya Vedi and her husband are victims of a judgmental society. The villain, if any, is the institution of Indian marriage.

Deputy Editor