Sunday, 30 August 2015


In one moment, you name her an avatar of goddess Lakshmi. The very next moment she is beaten up for not cooking well. One day you pray to goddess Saraswati, the next day you want your daughter to discontinue her schooling.
Why can our society, that pays homage to women as forms of goddesses, not respect women? You want a wife, a daughter-in-law, but a daughter is unacceptable – so unacceptable that she is killed in the womb itself.  Isn't this hypocrisy which prevails throughout our nation? 

It is a bitter truth that a girl child is put to death by her very own parents. Yes, her parents. It is not just the father who decides against a daughter. In some cases, even the mother (who is, herself, a woman) does not want to bear a girl child. Often women find their greatest adversaries in women themselves, in the form of their mothers, grand-mothers or mothers-in-law. This is not just an alarming irony, but a shameful aspect of our society.

Girls are deprived of education because of an orthodox patriarchal belief-system that claims that women belong in the kitchen. Well, I believe this belief-system itself belongs to a garbage-can. Gone are the times when men were the sole earners of bread for the family. Education is not only a need but a necessity for all.

Many people believe that having a daughter is a burden. Why does that come up? There is a hideous custom as the principal causal factor – the dowry system that is closely woven into the fabric of our society. Marriages that involve dowry are not marriages but business deals. If the in-laws are not satisfied, the girl is further mistreated. You will find many cases of this nature in daily news. Several more cases do not even come up in the news because the woman is forced to silently go through this torture because, according to our society, a wife moving out of her husband’s house is shameful for her parents.

Why cannot a father, instead of blessing his daughter with gold and diamond jewellery, bless her with the promise that his arms would remain available to her whenever she is wronged by anyone. US Representative Hilda Solis (2005) has rightly said, “We have more shelters for animals than for battered women. That is not the message we should be sending”. A woman cannot find herself safe anywhere! Be it in a crowded market, where she is exposed to the vulture-like eyes of men of all classes and ages, or be it in her own home. One of the defense lawyers of the Nirbhaya case, as shown in the documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ (2015) said, “If you put sweets on streets, dogs will come and eat them”. Sadly such statements by professionals, and even dignitaries, are common. 

Laws are of no use until the mindsets of people do not change. If a girl is raped, often, she is asked to shut her mouth as it would bring disgrace to her family. Why is it that she is made to believe that being raped was her fault? This is the thought that breaks a victim the most. As Freda Adler (1955), a criminologist says, “Rape is the only crime where the victim becomes the accused”.

Society has to overcome this dual mindedness – wherein on durgashtami they seek blessings from girls (referred to as kanyas), and on other days ruthlessly suppress them. Women of this country need to start fighting the system and societal constraints.

Stand up,  
because no one else would. 
Stand up,
with your head held high.
Know that your dignity is your right,
so put up a fight.
Don't let those wounds break you.
Don't let them rule over you.
Respect yourself,
because if you don't, 
no one else would.

Shikha Asrani

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