This article explores the linkages between women’s status and marriage in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Widely known as a progressive region, with high levels of social development despite poor economic growth, Kerala also fares exceptionally well in terms of standard indicators of female position. However, closer scrutiny of prevailing cultural mores, particularly in relation to marriage practices and family structure, reveals a less promising picture of entrenched inequality in relationships between women and men. Discriminatory inheritance rights, the widespread practice of dowry, and increasing violence against women all undermine women’s status in Kerala.
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