Begin typing your search...

How diff-abled Indians find love through dating apps

Shweta Mahawar was in her mid-20s when her parents uploaded her profile onto a matrimony website in the hopes of finding her a suitable partner.

How diff-abled Indians find love through dating apps
Nipun Malhotra and Shweta Mahawar

By Midhat Fatimah

Shweta Mahawar was in her mid-20s when her parents uploaded her profile onto a matrimony website in the hopes of finding her a suitable partner. Years passed, but she could not find a good match. Mahawar, a resident of Sitapur, a small town in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, has been a wheelchair user ever since she was infected with polio as a child. “I was home-schooled and did not get any exposure to the outside world all the years I was growing up,” the 43-year-old told DW.

“Despite all the difficulties, I had always been optimistic about finding a potential match, but when I crossed into my 30s, I got really frustrated feeling that I may never get to marry, leave my house and experience life on my own terms,” she said. According to a 2011 census, the latest data available, there were about 26.8 million people living with disabilities in India. At the time, 40% were not married. Though dating and navigating romantic relationships can be hard for anyone, people with disabilities can find the process to be particularly exclusionary and they can be met with discrimination and prejudice. “One of the biggest challenges which people with disabilities face when trying to date is that they are often seen as asexual human beings,” said Nipun Malhotra, a Delhi-based disability rights activist.

Mahawar recalled her unfortunate experiences on matrimony sites, where she was confronted with exorbitant dowry demands. “My parents did not have a lot of savings because they had to spend a good chunk of their income on my medical expenses, so meeting those dowry demands were out of question,” she said. Abhishek Shukla, who was diagnosed with osteogenesis, also known as brittle bone disease, has also had his share of bad experiences on matrimony sites.

“Matrimony sites are of no use to people with disabilities. They charge the full amount for their service, but have very few options for us,” said Shukla, who quit his job at an Indian multinational company after his condition became more prominent.

“When I graduated from college and got a job, I used to get a lot of proposals, but later as people learned about my condition they distanced themselves,” the 35-year-old told DW, adding that he continues the search for a potential partner.

In 2017, life started to look up for Mahawar when she came across Inclov, a dating app for people living with disabilities.

Having lived her entire life under parental supervision, curiosity pushed Mahawar to purchase a smartphone, and at the age of 38, she installed Inclov. Soon after she started using the app, she met her spouse and married in 2018. “I met guys who just wanted to pass their time, I met people who were clear with their expectations and I am still friends with them, and I also met my husband through the app,” she said.

Mahawar now lives with her husband, Alok Kumar, in Sitapur where he runs a tuition center. Inclov, however, shut its operations in 2019. At its peak, the app had about 50,000 people with disabilities registered as users. “Many users who matched on Inclov are now parents,” Kalyani Khona, founder of Inclov, told DW.

Though people with disabilities still have the option to use mainstream dating apps like Bumble and Tinder, their experiences differed vastly, according to Khona.

This article was provided by Deutsche Welle

Visit to explore our interactive epaper!

Download the DT Next app for more exciting features!

Click here for iOS

Click here for Android

DW Bureau
Next Story