The Societal Pressure on the Woman to be a ‘Woman’
In the Indian culture, there are goddesses who are worshiped and whose wrath is feared. There were many prominent Indian philosophers, scholars and poets who were female. Goddesses are respected above all others – people worship them for knowledge and money. And yet, in today’s world, the woman has been besmirched and their roles have been dwindled down to those of mere servants and slaves. Indian men and women all respect and pray to these same goddesses but when asked what a women’s role in society is, their answer is mostly always same: a giver and a caretaker to the family who is always taken for granted. This is not the culture that facilitated this but the narrow-mindedness of many people in India that have twisted the realities of our tradition and made it to be one that inhibits women from truly unlocking their potential. The society of India that has misunderstood and misinterpreted our country’s culture and that is the reason that women of this country are facing these struggles.
Discouragement from pursuing careers
In today’s India, many women are discouraged from learning and pursuing their careers. There are staggering statistics on girls who don’t receive formal education after tenth grade. Women who continue to pursue a career after the age of 21 and above are frowned upon. ‘But when are you going to marry?’ They are told that they need to think of marriage and making a family, because that is what they were born for. If after marriage someone wants to continue their education or career after or without having a child, the society is brutal to her.
Women are highly discouraged from pursuing careers like engineering and sports. Women’s sports have extremely low funding, they aren’t well known because they get absolutely no media coverage. All the women players need to necessarily have other day jobs and often need to buy their own equipment as if their sports careers are just a hobby. When women pursue careers like engineering, they are told that no girls enter this field and even at work, there is extreme discrimination against her, often in the form of what men think are ‘harmless jokes’
What to do: Support these women. Let them pursue the career they want, without judging their decisions of wanting to having a marriage or a family. Donate in organizations that help these women in education and also the ones that help in funding of women’s sports.
Victim blaming rears its ugly head every time a woman is raped. What was she wearing? Was she drinking? Was she flirting? What time of the day was she outside? These questions are always asked when a girl is raped. BUT WHAT DO THESE QUESTIONS HAVE TO DO WITH RAPE? They don’t.
But the ‘traditional’ men and women of this country, who want to ‘preserve our culture’, think that these questions are absolutely applicable and appropriate. These repulsive people claim that this is in the ‘nature of men’ and for women to avoid these situations, they should wear ‘appropriate clothes’ and not go out at night. And these are the same men that worship and respect goddesses. The irony would have been laughable if it wasn’t so repugnant.
What to do: STOP victim blaming. The thing is, you can’t change the mentality of those that have it embedded in their minds that victim blaming is necessary. But teach your children and your nieces and nephews that this is not correct. Raise the men right.
Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse
The number of unreported cases of domestic violence after marriage is extremely high. And even when the cases are reported, it often happens that the police tell the women that it is something that they wouldn’t interfere into because ‘yeh ghar ka mamla hai’. Neighbors dismiss the screams and the cries of the woman in pain because ‘yeh ghar ka mamla hai’. Many women are afraid to report any cases because they fear that after coming home, they would be berated even worse. There are so many times that women have come into the hospital with bones cracked and ligaments torn and people simply look at her without offering any help.
And it is quite often that the domestic violence is packaged with sexual abuse but even if women talk about the domestic violence, they don’t share their experience of sexual abuse because they feel shy about it. Psychologists say that this cause them depression – the fear of being raped – and this depression adds to the trauma. These women often don’t take care of themselves. The problem here with our society is how they deal with this. They don’t interfere and help these people, instead they tell the women that it is their lookout. One of the main issues around this is that it often happens with women with a lower socioeconomic background and hence, she does what she is always told to do – she tolerates. It’s funny how people love to interfere when two people are consensually cohabitating without marriage but don’t ever interfere when they hear a crying woman who had been almost beaten to death.
What to do: If you find anyone who is suffering, don’t stay quiet. Accompany them to the police if she wants to report it. Donate to the foundations that support these women and help them to get out of these barbaric situations.
Predetermined Roles After Marriage
There are a lot of ‘traditional’ men and even women in this country who are extremely respectful of the goddesses, they pray to them. But when it comes to actual women of this country, the one that stays in their homes, they want to keep them there itself. It’s strange that these men worship a goddess for having greater knowledge and discourage women from pursuing education and their desired career and it’s strange that they pray a goddess for more money and happiness but forbid a woman to go out and earn money for herself. The people don’t want women to be free humans, they want them to be locked inside.
After marriage, it is always expected of the woman to abandon her ambitions and her dreams to take care of her family and her child(ren). The in-laws often ‘forbid’ women from doing jobs after marriage and many husbands support this. And many companies don’t hire women because they think that these women would start a family and would have to leave the company after that. Furthermore, if the women do their jobs or run their businesses, it stills falls upon them to come home and do all the domestic work.
What to do: Share the burden. It is NOT only upon the women to do domestic work and take care of her family. Men should also know how to do domestic work because that is something one has to do for survival.
27% of the girls are married before they are even 18, and that is a very concerning statistic. People in this society, mostly in the lower socio-economic backgrounds, have wedded their girl children before they even hit puberty. They give away their daughters as if they were livestock. They are girls, not brides. Their childhood is stolen from them. And women are often wed to men who are much older to them. The society does this for many reasons – poverty, traditional customs, betrothal, and avoiding pre-marital sex. The Muslims don’t follow the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (2006) and follow their own Muslim Personal Law for the minimum age of a girl before she can get married.
What to do: Support the NGOs that work to end child marriage and donate there. There isn’t much that can be done but supporting these NGOs would be a great step towards contribution for the betterment of the country.
This is what every woman is told in her marriage. He hits you? Tolerate it. He physically abuses you and sexually harasses you? Tolerate it. He mentally harasses you? Oh, that’s all in your head, he isn’t doing anything.
This is what women are told and the sad thing is, not only men, but other women say this, too. Divorces are very frowned upon and remarriages of women are extremely difficult because all of the society looks at it as if everything was the woman’s fault and because ‘she doesn’t have it in her to tolerate it.’ What people of this toxic society don’t understand is, she doesn’t have to tolerate anything! It shouldn’t be upon her to be helpless and lay there without saying anything. But ‘tumhe sehen karna padega’ is the society’s mantra when it comes to women.
What can be done?
Be an advocate. Don’t stay quiet – talk about these issues out in the open, start a conversation. Because starting a conversation is the first step to approaching a problem and coming up with a solution.
Educate the Future Generation. The generation that has been led to believe the same ‘principles’ for decades aren’t going to change their minds now. But let your kids, nephews and nieces know what our true culture is and tell them about this injustice, even though it might be uncomfortable in the beginning.
Donate. This is extremely important. NGOs are always in need of funding. Donate to the NGOs that helps women getting out of situations they shouldn’t be put in.
Volunteer. Something else that these NGOs usually need is volunteers who can help them with the betterment of this country.