Recently, popular matrimonial site Shaadi.com removed their ‘skin tone filter for matchmaking’ after an online petition was started against the existence of that particular search filter.
While it’s great that this particular option was removed, it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the bias and prejudices that matrimonial sites propagate through search filters.
Caste, religious background, financial background, physical attributes, etc. are just some of the filters that matrimonial sites use to select a potential partner.
A match, using such filters, is not based on how common are the interests of two people, how their personalities complement each other, or how comfortable they are with each other.
Rather, it’s reduced to shallow, mechanical aspects, that actually further propagate the biases that exist in our society, especially when you factor in search filters like ‘height’ and ‘income group’.
Of course, society isn’t suddenly going to change overnight, if these filters blink out of existence. But, just like movies hold a responsibility to not promote problematic behavior, matrimonial sites hold a responsibility to not normalize divisions on the basis of caste, religion, class, or color.
When a simple click removes a potential partner, simply because of a particular filter, then the gravity of ostracizing a particular caste or community is completely lost. And people will continue to indulge in bigoted behavior, without sparing a thought to what such behavior indicates for generations to come.
Though the divide in society runs deep, this is a welcome change indeed. However, we still have a long way to go, before matchmaking is no longer looked upon as a business union, but rather, it becomes a way to meet a true partner for life.