Status Of Women In India: Society Needs A Mirror?
When I sat to write this article, the news of a girl hit by a semen filled balloon had just gone viral.
And while today I am editing, "a pregnant goat was gang raped by 8 men", is floating...
After reading the complete news, I was completely shaken and had to question a women's status and rights in India if not goats.
Status Of Women In India
It happened in the next street from where I live, just 5 minutes away. Yesterday I had to run an errand to buy some food for my mother and I was in constant fear that the next semen filled balloon could be on my face. Though I got hit by two water balloons I kept thanking God that at least there was no semen inside of it.
This is 2018 and women in public spaces still wonder if they will be hit by semen on their faces.
These things bring out the question about a women's place in Indian society today.
I honestly wanted to write about some other things. But that incident jolted me. I am still shaking. We, as a woman, have to dodge public spaces bargaining our way out. Women’s Day is celebrated every year, but we cannot ever talk about women’s empowerment without talking about women’s choices about sexuality and the right over her body.
"Women’s Day is celebrated every year, but we cannot ever talk about women’s empowerment without talking about women’s choices about sexuality and the right over her body." Click To Share
Status of Child Abuse in India
This took me back in time. When I was 9 years old, a friend of mine confessed that her bums were grabbed by someone during the Durga Puja. I was so worried that I almost cried wondering who will marry her now, that someone did wrong to her. Now at 30, I wonder how I even knew about marriage and sexual abuse.
Actually, I did not.
I was a very lazy kid. I either slept or watched TV. I was growing up in a very sleepy small town of Assam. So many summer afternoons I would just sit and watch mindless movies and in each movie, the girl would shout at the villain to stop attacking her honour and the hero would save her.
Do Indian Movies Promote Molestation?
There was a movie called “Clerk”. Manoj Kumar was the hero and his sister gets raped. The sister goes to the rapist and begs him to marry her because now she has no place in the world as her “izzat” is gone. The Rapist refuses and her brother, Manoj Kumar swears revenge. But Rekha, who was Manoj Kumar’s love interest, intervenes saying that now the rapist is his (Manoj Kumar’s) sister’s lord as he had taken away her “izzat.”
As a kid, while I kept watching such misogyny glorified each day, I kept internalizing that the woman’s body belonged to her husband and if anyone else touches it, she loses everything in life.
"Though at 9, I had no idea what sexual abuse or rape was, TV taught me that if anyone pulls the girl's dupatta and she cries, her life was over. So, when my friend told me about the molestation, I thought that if we ever spoke about it, she will lose everything. So we never ever talked about it." Click To Share
Her father got transferred, she left school and I forgot about her abuse.
Public Places Are RESERVED For Men & So Are Our BODY??
At 10, I went to a sleepover at my best friend's place. It was a summer night, with clear stars.
Post cycling, Aunty allowed us to watch a movie on Doordarshan, we were overjoyed. The movie was “Phool Aur Kaante”. In that movie when Madhu refuses Ajay Devgan, he goes behind her and sings and dances. At one point he pulls her skirt a little down and a little of her belly showed to which others laughed.
I and my best friend also laughed a lot because we thought she was acting up and now that everyone laughed at her, she will act sane.
Of course in another two minutes, Madhu falls for Ajay Devgan and they talk about being together forever. So we internalized that boys in love will chase girls and after a while, the girl gives up.
We thought that would feel good.
But at 14 when a brown car would follow us while we rode our cycles back home, I was confused why we were afraid and not feeling good, if it was meant to be love.
We hated it!! But accepted it to be a norm and stayed silent. As if public spaces belonged only to boys and we had to be apologetic about our presence. Maybe somewhere we were. Maybe we provoked them. That was our inner voice.
Until I was 13, I heard conversations about my body that my breasts were too small and I might not have enough milk someday for my babies.
"Because at 13, though I was still a child, I was supposed to be also growing bigger breasts so that it can produce milk later. My body belonged to a man and it has to produce healthy children - that was the message." Click To Share
Our bodies are a shame and we have to bear it.
Is This The ONLY Role Of Women In India?
We all heard phrases like, “Don’t laugh like Supranakha.” Supranakha is such a joke in the Indian context. Her nose was chopped down. What was her fault? She DESIRED Laxmana and laughed aloud. If this was the norm, I wonder how many Indian men would have their noses chopped off?
Patriarchy tells us, that women who laugh out loud or have fun or desire men are wrong and they are ‘Rakshashinis’ like Supranakha and deserve their noses to be chopped off. That is the way to put them in their place.
The everyday conversation is so filled with jokes about how Ramayana was fought for Sita or how Mahabharata was fought for Draupadi. In gist, we are told how good, brave and innocent men die because of women. This is such a cultural lie.
Ramayana was fought because Ravana abducted Sita. Sita did not go to Ravana, she was abducted...
Also, before the Mahabharata war was fought, Krishna did go to Duryodhana and said that if just 5 villages are given to the Pandavas, the war would be called off. When Duryodhana denied, the war was called. Had Duryodhana agreed, there would have been no war. But the blame has always been on the women, always...
As if we as women provoke innocent men to fight and they die saving us. There is always something wrong with the woman.
Patriarchy tells us that.
Wondering What Are Women’s Right In India Today?
Let me tell you...
The reality is that unless these narratives of women bringing down trouble to men - who owes her body, sexuality, and choices - changes, nothing will change. Yes, we can scream how the women workforce is increasing and how Avani Chaturvedi became the first woman to fly a Jet MiG 21. But it is also equally true that India houses the most educated women who leave the workforce.
Is every dropping out a choice?
"Yesterday a friend was telling me how her boyfriend’s parents are against her because of She-clubs.
And another one just got told that she is too modern because she also asked the prospective groom if he can cook?" Click To Share
It takes a Google click to see the stats of physical and sexual violence women go through in India.
How Have Things Really Changed For Indian women?
Call me a pessimist, but I think just because we can wear a foreign brand or have a mobile phone that connects the world, I still feel not much has changed. Surpanakha and Draupadi are still shamed.
Tell me, if tomorrow Avani Chaturvedi walks down the street, can you guarantee that there will be no semen filled balloons thrown at her?
I am sure she will. There is a list of Bollywood actresses groped during their public appearances.
Probably there’s a never-ending number of problems faced by women in India. And so we need platforms like Sheroes.
N*****After blaming parenting & the society for current scenario prevailing in India for women, I now can clearly relate this fiasco with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, post which the coming generations suffered the wrath of excessive radiaiton exposure for years and the effects can be seen in the new born babies even today. Owing to what is/was/has been taught or shown in cinema, families, schools and many other societal or rather patriarchal channels, it is not difficult to gauge the kind of life a girl is conferred with in India, eventually rendering us in the state of extreme malignancy. Sheroes, for sure, looks like a breathe of fresh oxygen here, making women confront themselves and coming to terms with the powers resting in them. I so hope and wish the picture changes for better in the years to come and the same is possible only if we have more 'women only' ecosystems in place.
S*****Article is truly jostling! A mirror to the society. But I don't second the reference of surpanakha given by you b'coz there is no point in equating it with today's men.
T*****true indeed! its rightly said education starts from home, not from school. Parenting need to be equal for both the genders. if we are teaching a girl child to be soft and polite while speaking then its the responsibility of the parent to keep an eye over their son's language.
R*****The woman are really not safe nowadays also. we says the thought are changing .but when it came to women the rule and regulation . i live in village and also married than i cant where sevless dress . i m working in office there is complusary for saree or top with long hand pyajmas .
B*****It's just amazing..I c like my words which is running on my mind might b for many women. But like minded ppl like us should take step for this....
R*****This is very beautifully written and thought provoking. It got me thinking for the next 2 hours. A very nice attempt on gender parity issues. Kudos👍👌💐
A*****I agree ,we should take necessary steps ...
A*****This is the major problem of our country that they never try to teach their son,they only imposes their restrictions over their daughters nd other girls...if any family try to support their girl,others pulled them back...this society will nvr chnge their thinking unless we all teach our family with boldness.. we should teach our family our parents first then the members of society...
S*****U r absolutely right sarumathi... In our society no body teaches a boy... To help his mother in doing chores at home! And why would he do when his father does not do it?because he is a BOY... He is not supposed to do that! That's where gender inequalities start... Even at a tender age! And as u said even grandmothers at home play a role in that... By infusing thoughts likes boys are always superior to girls!
P*****When we were growing up, our parents and teachers told us that if we wanted to be successful, we had to work hard and never cut corners. They lied to us. Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of people who work really hard and are still really poor? Meanwhile, look around and you'll see a ton of people who barely work at all and yet make a lot of money. Would you be interested in working part time from home that will easily generate $20,000 per month income for you? So click this link and join us http://bit.ly/2Hu5oGO
S*****Anger is good Paromita. Keep questioning.
J*****Your thinking is so different I never thought from surpanakha perspective. Truly she was just desiring a man. Patriarchy taught us that women should not have any desires she should sacrifice everything for men. They have made us believe that women is just a toy, men can play however they want. Living in a so called cultural family, I've herd of these old times stories a lot. I've seen my cousins get married at young age and giving birth in just a year. Yes, they say they are happy, maybe they really are. But I, on the other hand feel bad about them. I feel like they haven't lived. Or maybe it's just me who thinks, women is not born, just to be used as a source to increase a family tree. Growing up by watching Hollywood and big world, seeing the outer world I feel like all those old time stories were nothing but just the imagination of a man.
S*****This is true factor. I feel even before we expect from men, we should win it from our women group. Many a times women's are against these thoughts. Our culture is made such a way our women group itself drags us down and insults us in many instances. Girls are grown up saying marriage is important and spouse is life partner, so girls expect him to be everything. Equally boys are grown up saying marriage is only part of their life. Women who express their thoughts boldly are named differently. Many feels working women have achieved something great. It is myth. After heavy work at office, how many women can sit relaxedly at home, no they should be ready to take care home needs, is it same for men? How much ever women position s high in office, at home she gets least priority. Think deeply, many a times these against factors are done to us through form of other women. My mother may think so positively for me, is it same for my neighbour's daughter or to her daughter in law, many a times answer is "no". Another myth about women, women are always considered as beauty doll or entertainment for men. We should come out of this myth. A woman should be remembered by others only by her character and talents, seriously not as one more beautiful woman. We are unique, we are mentally stronger than men. Decide a change within ourselves now.
S*****Well written!i believe and feel the same about how movies effect our minds since childhood! But when we grow and get to know the world around us... Everything changes! In our society everyone teach only girls.. Don't sit like that.. Don't laugh like that.. Don't wear dress like that... Don't do that.. Don't do this.. Blah blah! But in fact not a single boy is never taught by anyone how to treat a girl.. How to respect women... Which should start at home itself!
N*****Really it mind blowing fact in India