by Kathy Sabo February 14, 2023
For Valentine's Day, I am taking a look at what "marriage" is to our fellow residents here in Saskatchewan. I have a perspective as a straight, white woman, born in Regina, having attended all my education here, but also having the opportunity to explore many places around the world.
As a teenager, I didn't think I would get married. I thought it would limit what I wanted to do; I didn't have a maternal urge to have kids. I felt that it was so important to get an education and be able to support myself on my own. But as time crept by, I wanted to share my experiences with someone. My adventurous energy started to slow down and I began to love Regina and its simplicity. Which then grew to want kids and then yada yada yada, you know the story.
My love story is probably what you would expect from a girl born and raised here. But did you know that 20% of the total population of Regina is of people from other countries? Looking at that 20%, we have people from the Philippines (9,840 persons or 21.8%), India (7,385 persons or 16.3%), and China (2,905 persons or 6.4%). What does marriage mean to the various groups of people here in Regina? I wonder what happens when you move here?
There are a variety of ways to meet potential partners in the Philippines. A popular option is to attend social events such as weddings, parties, or festivals, where you can meet people from all walks of life. Filipinos love to talk during dates, and dates are often held in the home of the lady or at the park. In some conservative cultures, the couple is told to not hold or touch the hands of women. Once "Mahal kita”, love, is found, the groom and his family will ask the bride and her family for marriage.
Although the Philippines does not legally recognize same-sex unions, it is encouraging to see that society is becoming more tolerant and supportive of same-sex couples. Despite the challenges, everyone is able to express love and form meaningful relationships in a society that is becoming increasingly tolerant.
It's interesting to see how marriage trends in India have shifted over time. According to the 2011 Census of India, the average age of marriage for women has increased to 21 years. Additionally, a 2009 survey suggested that only 7% of women married before 18 years of age. Despite this, arranged marriages have traditionally been the norm in Indian culture. However, recent studies show a trend to move away from traditional arranged marriages and more towards self-arranged or love marriages, especially in cities like Mumbai and Delhi.
India has a few ways of finding a partner for marriage, as long as you are a man and woman. India does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions, though same-sex couples can attain the rights and benefits as live-in couples. 44% of Indian people were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, 14% of Indians were in support of allowing some kind of legal recognition for same-sex couples with 18% opposed and 25% chose not to give their opinion.
Parental involvement in marriage decisions has evolved in China over time, with parents no longer holding total control but still being influential in the decisions of their children. This is due to the importance of the family unit in Chinese culture, as the family is seen not only as the present generation but as a lineage that pays tribute to ancestors. Additionally, women are expected to marry men that are more economically successful than themselves. Marriage is beneficial for the entire family and is an important decision for parents, as it will have long-term implications on the health and success of the family.
Same-sex couples are unable to marry in China. In fact, China provides no anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, nor does it prohibit hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Total control in the marriage decisions of children by parents is rare in China today, but parental involvement in decision-making now takes on a different form.
As Regina continues to grow and change, our viewpoint on what love is should change as well. Consider this next time you are out on the town and there are say 10 couples in the room; at least one couple likely is in an arranged marriage, and the same-sex couple now has freedoms like everyone else, which likely wasn’t allowed if they are not from North America, but now are free to do so (yah!). Love and marriage, and what those two mean together, are very different to all of us. I try to remember this when I meet new people and their significant others. Our journeys vary, and that is what is so beautiful about Canada.
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