Our society is ruled by two “M’s” – Males and Money. Genders were never equal and I doubt that they ever will be in this country. Ours is a social system in which men hold primary power and a woman’s life lies between pleasures at one end and danger at another end. We prefer to shut our eyes tightly when women in our homes are denied freedom and are given an unequal and inferior treatment, points out Swati, exclusively for Different Truths.
“We have an abundance of rape and violence against women in this country and on this Earth, though it’s almost never treated as a civil rights or human rights issue, or a crisis, or even a pattern. Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.” ~ Rebecca Solnit
The above-mentioned lines are enough to summarise the sorry state of society in India these days. In every stage of Indian history, women have been in margins, struggling through a second-class life. Newborn girls were regularly left to die, brides were often kidnapped and raped, widows were supposed to practice Sati and now, in modern day India, women are forced to kill the unborn girl child in the womb itself (illegally of course).
Now, I often wonder why female foeticide is labelled as illegal in our country. Are we not doing a favour to our girls by killing them in the womb itself so that they can be saved from the horrors of humiliation that they may have to face once they encounter this big bad world?
No… no…what am I saying? How can we? After all, ours is a secular and progressive society- with equal opportunities to all. Are we not the people who claim to worship women as Goddess?
Oh! Yes, we are. Twice every year we celebrate women during the Holy nine days of Navratra when we worship women as Shakti (Energy). We invite young girls into our homes, touch their feet and feed them, sweets…is this not enough to show how much we respect women?
Or do we?
A Devasthan (place of worship) in a temple was used to commit the unspeakable crime on an 8-year-old girl child. I wonder if the culprits saw their own daughter, sister or mother in her let alone the Goddess. And yes, the culprits (you have read it right, culprits and not the culprit) belonged to the two pillars of Power in India- Police and Politicians (italics mine).
Their involvement as criminals turned this heinous “Crime” into a fuel for “Communalism”- as the helpless, innocent child belonged to the minority community of that area. The game of power needs pawns and who can be a better pawn than a substandard gender in a rigidly patriarchal society like ours.
Let us accept the fact that our society is ruled by two “M’s” – Males and Money. Genders were never equal and I doubt that they ever will be in this country. Ours is a social system in which men hold primary power and a woman’s life lies between pleasures at one end and danger at another end. We prefer to shut our eyes tightly when women in our homes are denied freedom and are given an unequal and inferior treatment. There are many episodes of rape, murder, dowry, burning, wife beating and discrimination in a society which goes unnoticed.
In such a regressive and dangerous society, we as women are scared and we can’t help but think, “Which one of us? And when?” We walk down the street at night with our keys clutched between our fingers, as a weapon. We move in packs — because it’s safer. We have been cat-called in the street and have seen our biggest female role-models and icons shamed in the press, over and over again. So we know even success, and money, will not protect us from the humiliation of simply being a woman.
Given the figures, we can’t sometimes help but feel we’re just waiting for the bad thing to come. Why, because that would be a realistic thing to think, and we like to be prepared. Awfully, horribly, fearfully prepared.
Above all, we are scared for our daughters from the day they are born. We are scared when she is playing in the park, boarding a school bus, left at home with a nanny or is getting ready to go to a friend’s house for a playdate. We often shiver to think what horrors may be lurking for her at a crowded shopping mall, an amusement park, auto ride after sunset and even a public transport like a bus.
The reason why half of the population of India is living in such a constant fear is that we are a dangerous society when it comes to women.We claim to be the secular and conscious society with equal opportunities for all but we have miserably and terribly failed our women.
Is this not a high time we consider the following points:
- Where are we going as a nation?
- Are we muted as a society?
- Have we lost our collective consciousness and are ready to be tossed around by those in power?
- Are we ready to hand over this insecure and intolerant environment to the next generation?
And above all, are we collectively going to bow our heads as culprits and wear the black dot of shame for not providing our women and children with a safe and secure environment to live, grow and flourish?
Photos from the Internet
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Corporate trainer, author, columnist, blogger, public speaker and sociologist, Swati Kumar is best known for her conversational style of writing and easy use of language. Her first novel – The Great Indian Dilemma received five-star reviews worldwide and generated a fan following of its own. Her write ups appeared as Columns in The Times of India, Different Truths and Bookworm. She heads the writing department of “The Spotlight”, an e-magazine conceptualized by the students of Jamia Milia Islamia University and is the General Secretary for “The Serving Hands Society for the empowerment of less privileged persons”. She is based in Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and two children.