Do women have equal rights as men? Do men in the Indian society always overshadow women’s existence? Throughout history, mostly all areas in India have held women in an inferior place compared to men due to archaic traditions. Many movement groups and liberation groups have been created so as to stop this injustice and are trying to give back the well deserved crown to women. As William Golding said, “I think women are fools to pretend that they are equal to men, they are more superior and always have been.” which is veritable as women have ,since the beginning of time, been the most important member in the right functioning of the family which is the base of every healthy society.
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Women had, since long, been viewed as the weak sex in India-which resulted in their subordination throughout the times. Deprived of their rights, Mahatma Gandhi induced women to stand up for their freedom which revived women’s position in that orthodox society resulting in women distinguishing themselves as: teachers, nurses, air hostesses and also, increased participation in politics and administration work. Women have break the boundaries restricted to house-hold work and have flourished throughout the different sectors with flying colours. The encouragement of women, definitely, helped with the new innovative ideas for the implementation in various spheres of life. However, while going deeper in this study of Women’s rights in India, we will also learn more about the evils of illiteracy, dowry, child marriage and ignorance.
In India, women’s subordination has long been considered as a social norm. Families are male-dominated (patriarchal) therefore, girls have been raised to accept violence as part of their destiny. They assume that their purpose on earth is merely for reproductive roles and labor. Furthermore, “In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labor.” said Gulshan Rehman, a health program development advisor at Save the UK. Why despite the great advancement in women’s right around the world, India is still considered as the worst place to be female? Why in spite of having numerous laws to protect girls, they are still being ill-treated within the family or outside the home? Why although the Indian law says that marriage of a girl below 18 years old is a crime they are still forced to marry at younger age?
Indian society is hypocritical. They worship female goddesses and yet fail to protect Indian women from daily atrocities they face and on top of that, they blame them too for their condition. Traditions in India serves as a veil, a “burqua”, to cover up the awful reality that, far from being goddesses, women are less than even fully human in India. Moreover, traditions still cast women as hopeless victims rather than free-thinking individuals in control of their destiny. Let’s take the dowry tradition as an example. Much of the discrimination against women arises from India’s dowry tradition, whereby the bride’s family gives the groom’s family money or gifts. Despite the fact that, Dowries were made illegal in India under the Dowry Protection Act (1961), the practice persists for most marriages. The fact that India has female chief ministers means very little. India hates women and that is the ugly unvarnished truth! With the influence of the Muslim society on India, it has caused considerate deterioration in the status of women as in Muslim societies; women are regarded as captive and saleable commodities. Women are relegated to a plaything of man or like an ornament to decorate the drawing room.
As Dr. Jawaharlal Nehru said, “You can tell the condition of a Nation by looking at the status of its Women.” Daughters are regarded as a liability and are conditioned to believe that they are inferior and subordinate to men, whereas sons are idolized and celebrated. This is because, men are capable of providing to the needs of their parents and also, they play an important role in death rituals in Hindu religion, which ensure that the soul is released from the body and can, go to heaven. While on the other part, women are seen as economically and emotionally dependent on men and also the fact that after marriage, they go to their husband’s house resulting in lesser help in the household of their own family and most importantly, loss of money due to dowry tradition. This might also explain why, the birth of a daughter may not always be perceived as equally blissful as the birth of a son and why “May you be blessed with a hundred sons” is a common Hindu wedding blessing.
It is a fact that women are intelligent, hardworking and efficient in any work they undertake. They put their heart and soul together in what they do but in India since early ages, they are expected to learn and fulfill domestic duties amongst others, they are also expected to obey rather than to make their own decisions. Furthermore, the name of Mother Theresa cannot but be mentioned; she brought the Nobel Prize for India by her selfless services to the poor, destitute and suffering people in India and Worldwide. Women play a role of vital importance. They have to feel and realize this at every step of their life that they are builders of the fate of India’s nation. There are few amendments brought in the Indian law to protect women like: The Hindu Code Bill which gives the daughter and son equal property share, The Marriage Act (1939) whereby women are no longer regarded as the property of man and The Right to Divorce.
Even though India is moving away from the male dominated culture, discrimination is still highly visible in rural as well as in urban areas, throughout all strata of society. While women are guaranteed equality under the constitution, legal protection has a limited effect and patriarchy traditions still prevails. India should understand that no nation can progress unless its women are given equal access to opportunities and adequate safety and security.