Cross-posted from Not Just The Talks.
Disclaimer: As the author of this post, I personally recommend only those who are aged 16+ (an adult according to many republics around the globe) to go ahead with reading this post. Others, a sincere request, don’t read it right now at least. Please abide by this request. And as always, this is just a point of view, solely my own.
All those who have been regular readers of my posts for Not Just The Talks., would wonder why this post. Those who aren’t, this part is for you. I had said in my previous post that the first topic I talk about will be ineducation.
But, here I am today, posting about the Social Evils, the topic I was planning to write about the last. Reason? Events occurring in and around my life that pushed me to the limit of acceptability of things happening the way they are, have been, but, will not.
It’s a fact that the life of women is hard. Like, really hard. And then there’s another fact. No man will ever acknowledge that her life is harder than his. If you ask me, I would say that the man who cannot acknowledge this, is a male chauvinist coward.
Having said that, the life of a baby girl forming as a foetus in a mother’s body, her being born, her teenage, her adulthood, her life in complete, flashes in front of my eyes. And over it all, the problems she faces in all those (mind you, much more than what a guy would phase in one particular phase) seem to occupy my mind. From being abandoned even before being born, to being burnt alive. From not getting the support of her family when she needs it, to having to give up her dreams just because she has to ‘run a home’. From being pushed into a marriage as soon as she completes 18 or graduation (luckily that!) to being divorced for not being a virgin. That’s the life we Indians are known to give the women whom we promise to treat as equals! That’s our tradition!
In this post, I think I’ll stick to going from phase to phase, starting at the youngest.
1) The Innocent Infant:
A few months ago, I read a Mumbai Mirror report (sorry, don’t have the link) of some particular kind of sonography machines being seized from clinics across Mumbai. Now I’m no expert in medical equipment (thus the inability to name the instrument), but I know for one, that it was the machine which could help parents recognize the gender of their baby, even before it is born. They’re not allowed to be used in India, as per the law of the country.
The reason? Female foeticide. The abortion of a foetus, in the process of its development, because it is recognized to be a girl. I remember reading a report in TOI a few years ago of a massive unearthing of female foetuses found dumped in Noida.
And I’m not afraid to say that the reason this happens is the Indian culture, the heritage we are so a part of.
It is a social stigma (or so they say) since ages, for a girl to be born in a family. She brings bad luck, she’s a curse, etc., etc. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to say more, everyone of us knows the various pronouncements of it. And that is, not just in rural India, but even in the urban, so-called civilized India. Similarly, that is not just in the lower strata of the Indian society, but equally deep-rooted in the higher, economically ahead families.
My take: Sex determination instruments, should be allowed, lawfully. The parents of the child have the right to know what gender their offspring is going to be!
Yes, knowing that the ‘tradition’, ‘culture’, and the orthodox India that we live in, will then promise to thereby reduce the female population furthermore. But, is this the solution?
The deep-rooted misconceptions, the evils that make us inhumane have to be rooted out. And there is considerable progress in this direction, which I won’t fail to accept. But, there’s an even more considerable lot that remains to be done. That change can be brought about by us, the youth, in our actions and thoughts. That’s what I’m talking about.
2) The Growing-up Stage (if you’re 16, I’m pretty sure you know what I mean to say):
Puberty. The phase where a girl becomes a woman (over-rated, I believe).
Just a few days back I heard of a girl not getting to perform some specific ritual in her own brother’s wedding, just because she would ‘probably’ be on her monthly cycle. The particular incident reminded me of what I have seen, heard, read in all these years. Women not allowed in temples, in ceremonies, in festivals, etc. is not just a popular myth, but a fact that is of the worst and most illogical of them all.
The times when they need support of their families, those trying times, they being treated by their families like they are a mistake to be born as girls, in the name of rituals and religion, is the worst thing that can happen to her. For Christ’s sake, those monthly periods are the reason she gets to be a mother at some stage of her life!
My take: Women, girls, stand up for what your rights are. Take a stand. Don’t let the compact-minded, orthodox elders determine what you get to do and what you don’t. To guys, support those girls who stand up for this. They need you to be there for her.
3) Ambitions in vain:
I’ve seen this too much to be true. Fought for it, till I won. And I will, all my bloody life!
Having to forgo what they want to do with their lives, what they want to become, just because the life they want to pursue asks of them long working schedules, so that they can manage their homes as well as they are supposed to, so that they can serve their in-laws, and what not… It makes me want to die in hell, every time I hear something like this. What kind of a society, what kind of a country do we live in? Seriously this?
My take: No one, forget the gender he/she/it is, should ever have to let go of their dreams, ambitions, or the professions they want to see themselves in, just because of such stupid inhibitions of the third-world country that ours was.
4) Born to Marry:
It seems so to me, and aptly I assume, that women are born to marry. They are married the first thing they qualify as per the law (sometimes even before) or they complete their basic graduations. No questions asked, no wishes heard, tears falling to deaf ears.
What if the girl doesn’t want to marry at such a tender age? What if she wants to work? What if she wants to go for a job? ‘Nope. Nothing doing. You’re a girl. What will the society say if there’s a spinster of your age about us? Think about the image of your parents, grandparents…’ And it all goes on and on… Finally, the girl gives up her own dreams, desires and compromises to live the life her family expects her to live.
My take: The age when anyone (not specifically a girl) should marry, is when they feel they’re both physically, mentally and economically mature to sustain their ownselves and their families. And that, is their personal choice, not something that parents or other elders, should have a say in. It’s not a number game, it’s how psychologically prepared you are to take the responsibility of living a life linked to another human being, in any and every way.
5) Cook, Serve, Starve:
Yes, the post-marital life.
The secondary member of the family. The person who should make sure food is available at the times demanded. The person who should keep the house clean. The person who has to make sure the clothes are well washed, dried and ironed. The person who has to keep the home full of supplies necessary.
Oh, these are not the tasks of different servants! This is what an ‘Indian bahu’ is expected to do and be.
My take: Common! You really expect me to say anything here? (And by the way, getting a different servant for everything is not the solution!)
6) A body that’s never hers:
It’s usual for a girl to have snide comments passed on her, to be an object of visual abuse, to be made fun of in every possible and cheap way. That’s something she has to be fine with, completely.
Everyday, everyday, every bloody day, there’s at least one news report of a
girl being raped somewhere. Just yesterday, I saw the account of a girl on TimesNow who was raped at gunpoint. I had read in TOI that according to the number of cases of rape, filed every year, there was a rape occurring in the country every 4 minutes. And that’s the rapes whose reports are filed with the police!
I can’t believe how horny men are and can be. Seriously. And these are the same men, who will then divorce their wives because they didn’t qualify the virgin test (I can’t be more blunt, sorry).
I can’t imagine the trauma the girl who is expected to live a life of normalcy after she is forced into a sexual encounter. I just can’t imagine.
My take: This is not just a problem in India, but over the world. All I can say is, not every guy is a jerk. Women must know to protect themselves from jerks. They’re everywhere, sadly. (I loathe myself for being unable to provide a sane solution for this, trust me.)
This brings me to the conclusion of this post. There’s a lot more that each one of us knows about, and many of you would’ve probably even expected me to write about. But, writing or not writing about it. The thoughts we have, the feelings we feel, the actions we take, make the change. That’s the reality. And that’s the only reality.
I’m disappointed in the women of this country for bearing everything that has been happening to them over generations, and them not standing up for it. I’m disappointed in the men of this nation, for not standing up for their wives, sisters, daughters. I’m disappointed in the culture of this country, and the Gods of this diverse country, if this is what they’ve preached and that’s what we follow. I’m disappointed in the respected Constitution of India, for not being able to bring the change and wipe of the socially backwardness of our country. I am. But, I also add that it’s never too late.
But, I am hopeful, too.
We live in a democratic, free country. A country where everyone is promised to be treated equally with the rights they are conferred upon. And that’s what I will fight for. That’s what I want you to fight for.
And I know that we are making progress even as I write this. I know that we would have made progress even in the time from when I type this to when you read it. That’s because we are not alone. There are thousand, probably millions others, who think the same way that I and you do (I know you think alike me because you’ve read 1900 words of this extensively long post so far).
Yes, right now, to the moment, I feel that women, are vowed to be woed, by virtue of them being the feminine kind of the human race. And yes, I hope that changes by the time I make my way to hell...
I’m sorry if I have hurt the sentiments of a particular section of the society, or any person in particular. I didn’t mean to.
Signing off... Until the next post... Peace.
Note: To all those who know me personally, I hope this post doesn’t change the relationship we share, in anyway.