Sunday, March 7, 2010

Women In India... as I see it

March 8th is celebrated all over the world as the International Women's Day (IWD) and some countries like China, Russia, Bulgaria, Vietnam even declare this day as the national holiday. I am not really aware about state of women in these countries, but its such a hypocrisy on part of China to celebrate IWD. The whole world knows how Chinese authorities violates women’s human and reproductive rights by doing forced sterilizations and abortions on Tibetan Women. Anyways. My own India wont be far behind in celebrating IWD. TV channels will telecast programs and movies dedicated to women; shopping malls will give special discounts to women on this day; coffee shops and restaurants will be decorated in pink and what not. But is this one day affair is all what's required? Crime against women probably surpasses all other crimes in India, even though majority of the crimes goes unrecorded. Its high time that Indian authorities look beyond 33% reservations for women in the parliament. Just compiling the reality of the status of Indian Women in the eve of 99th International Women Day...

Female Foeticide and Infanticide: Cruelty against women are witnessed in the form of abortion of female foetus and killing of infant female. Female foetuses are selectively aborted after pre-natal sex determination, thus avoiding the birth of girls. As a result of selective abortion, between 35 and 40 million girls and women are missing from the Indian population. In some parts of the country, the sex ratio of girls to boys has dropped to less than 800:1,000 which is a matter of grave concern. Preference of male child and so called burden of marriage associated with female child is the sole cause of this crime. Although, pre-natal sex determination is illegal in India, but many many greedy doctors still do such heinous crimes.

Discrimination within household : Preference for the male child leads to gender discrimination inside the household itself. This is reflected in amount of food given to the female members of the family, which results in malnutrition and diseases related to nutritional deficiency. On the other side, women (mother, wife, even sisters) are by default considered as the cook and caretakers for the family members, which is even seen in urban Indian households.

Deprivation from the Right to Education: Indian society, specially rural India, regards girl child as a temporary member of the family, as they think girls are meant to be married off. So, an utter apathy exists for the education of children. As a result of this, female children are often deprived  from their right to education. Life is just spent caring for the husband and children and the family.

Lack of Opportunity to Work: While rural India sees female children being deprived from education, upper caste society in India prohibits their female members to work. Education is primarily meant for getting a decent bride-groom.

Dowry: Dowry is a curse for Indian women. Majority of the women related crimes in Indian society is due to dowry. Its because of dowry female foeticide and infanticide are prevalent. The need for a dowry for girl children, and the ability to demand a dowry for boys exerts considerable economic pressure on families to use any means to avoid having girls, who are seen as a liability. Dowry is demanded from the husband’s side (in-laws) when younger women get married and when it doesn't meet the greed of the husband's family, newly married women become subject to verbal and physical abuse. In many cases, young brides are burnt to death by her in-laws if the parents fail to meet the requisite dowry demanded. In the majority of cases, the legal system has no impact on the practice of dowry. It is estimated that a dowry death occurs in India every 93 minutes. Its so shameful that I see people of my generation, the so called well educated and well mannered, also expect dowry when they are getting married. They say that its a social status for their families. What The Fuck!

Other forms of Crimes Against Women: Killing of women are reported some parts of the country when they marry with someone from other caste, religion or just against the will of the family. Women are again doubted for their chastity and subjected to a lot of crimes.

Along with all these, India shares with the other countries of the world, the crimes against women like rape, molestation, sexual harassment at work places, forced pornography, prostitution etc.

Since centuries, women in India are always at the receiving end. Oppression of women are sometimes due to religious reasons. Islam permits polygamy and gives women fewer rights than men. Among Hindus, preference for the male child is likewise deeply enshrined in belief and practice. Hinduism represent the ideal woman as obedient and submissive, and always needing the care of a male: first father, then husband, then son.

The status of women in a society can be determined by their education, health, economic role, presence in the professions and management, and decision-making power within the family. It is deeply influenced by the beliefs and values of society. Awareness and enthusiasm to think and question the existing beliefs and social notions is very important to put an end to this.  Although things have improved in recent past, but we have a long way to go. Anyways, Happy Women's Day to All ...

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Sravan said...

This one day's affair isn't all that's required, but I guess it is a good way to spread awareness.

Pre-natal sex determination is very legal in several developed countries, and is illegal here only because of the high foeticide rates. I'm a supporter of people's right to determine pre-natal sex though.

I remember a sweet old cartoon ad in DD which show girls and boys treated unequally by parents, and later realizing the folly themselves? I wonder whether women are always and the only cooks in Urban households; I see it changing a lot for various reasons.

I knew a friend in college (master's) who was very good and interested in Ph.D., but her parents disallowed it because they were worried it would be extremely difficult to find a suitable groom. While their worry is understandable, perhaps taking into account their own backgrounds, it is a pity.

Dowry is a social stigma, which even well-educated people indulge in, more than anything else, because of societal pressures which is a more complex issue that is present even in other species. But I'm digressing.

saurav said...

@Sravan Ya, even I don't see anything wrong with pre-natal sex determination, untill its used like the way its done in Punjab & Haryana and some other states.