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MOUSUMI ROY

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 3/15/2017 |



Women are demanding and getting to work shoulder to shoulder with their male counter parts in every walk of life and succeeding brilliantly. However, disparities, gender biasness do exist, not a phenomenon of past and visible in many spheres of life. More and more voices are being heard nowadays from women to seek Equal Right, Equal Opportunity, Equal Pay, and Equal Treatment in comparison to their male counterpart in every sphere of life. Voices are being heard from many successful women, social welfare organizations for women to fight against any discriminatory treatment. Have all these been able to make any impact? Have these movements of feminism been successful in bringing about changes in our modern society?

It will not be erroneous to say that we still have not been able to overcome the discriminatory and male dominated social attitudes. Discrimination does exist, deprivation keeps happening, though we all talk about importance of women empowerment and acknowledge it as essential. We find, on one hand, the world joins the exclusive club of countries with their own GPS, on the other hand we find, women are not allowed to drive motor cars in some countries, ladies are not allowed inside to worship in religious places of different religions. The laws and the actual social practices are very different. I am looking forward to such an education system that has the power and the capacity to create a society that is not prejudiced, discriminatory and highly sexist.

Critical interpretation of Ramayana will help us to understand how women were treated in those days in male dominated society. It states Sita was beloved to Ram, still she was asked to prove her “Satitva” but she never asked Ram to prove his love and him being faithful to her. “Talaq” system is still prevailing and being favoured or followed in modern age.

The problem is our mindset. The majority of people under the grab of customs, traditions and biased view-points have kept women away from everything. Our civil society is torn between traditional beliefs, such as male dominance, and modern ideas, which, among other things, empower women. The issue in India is closely related to the cultural and traditional mindset of majorities where equality of gender is a big question. Raja Ram Mohan Roy broke the tradition of sati. Periyar alias EVR broke the tradition of blind faith and superstition. Until and unless women break these useless traditions they will fall prey for these unscrupulous elements in society...

Various studies have proven beyond doubt that women are the most exploited lot among the working class. They contribute the most in agriculture globally, still they have a negligible share of property ownership. In the manufacturing, women are more or less equal in number when compared to men, especially in Third World nations, yet their security and their livelihoods are far more vulnerable. Women in rural and semi urban areas do walk long distances to fetch water and have to go into jungles to get fire wood or even to find work to make a living and support their family. In many places especially the hills, most of the hard labor work is done by the ladies of the house rather than the men. We need not shy away from such realities, our efforts should be targeted at changing these situations by purposeful social and technological interventions so that our rural and semi urban areas get education, employment and resources to lead dignified life.

What is happening in Iraq under ISIS is similar to what is happening in India against the women, Dalits and others. In India today many such incidents are happening as they are happening in every country including 1st world countries but then equating such incidents with ISIS level crimes is preposterous. Slavery in any form is abhor-able and not to be tolerated. ISIS has enslaved about 10,000 women. Currently bonded labor in India is estimated to number 20 million. ISIS claims Quranic sanction for enslaving captured women. Indians codified brutal mistreatment of Dalits in Manusmriti.

The Indian Constitution held men and women at par, and if in getting our social and economic fabric in sync with its principles, our governments need to act by making laws favouring some sections of society. Reservations, subsidies, scholarships are fine in a society that has suffered years of discrimination at the hands of an elite section of it. The discrimination in the US, where women could not vote till about a 100 years ago, and non-white citizens were discriminated against till 40 years back, also took time to correct and for that country to arrive as an egalitarian society. We have to be patient with social re-engineering too. we are all victims of a society based on inequality. I think any policy that addresses social inequity fairly, or reasonably fairly, has my support. Discrimination on the basis of wealth, or caste, or gender, or status, seems repugnant to me.

Misogynistic and patriarchal tendencies are present in almost all societies which are needed to be curbed. Progressive liberal societies should frame a uniform civil code ensuring total equality of both sexes in matters of inheritance, matrimony etc. Social mobilization against practices of honor, killings, ‘khap’ behavior, bride burning etc will also be helpful. At individual family level we must not only pamper daughters but daughter in laws too. Why do women continue to believe a ‘ghar jamaii’ is a bad thing but a girl must go to another home when she marries? As long as she believes this, she participates in patriarchy. Women have to play a greater role in resisting patriarchal tendencies. A feminist woman carried a campaign against a fraternity member who complimented her to profile picture, calling it misogyny. "Ati Sarvatra varjayate ".

Women education is considered to be most significant step towards women empowerment. For many families, women colleges open up the option of higher education for girls. Some orthodox families may deprive their girls from education, if such colleges do not exist. Even the USA still has women colleges, though the number is decreasing. The women only institutions are also decreasing in India.

Things are changing at a rapid pace, parents are becoming fairer to their daughters. Unfair treatment to daughters by parents in rural areas are being resisted by daughters going to higher classes in school. Girls are getting more aware of their rights. While cheating of siblings and wives may continue even in future, the scenario will change dramatically in favour of women's right to inheritance in another decade. The seeds have been sown, thanks to progress in literacy, education, TV, mobile, work by women's organizations, spread of women self-help groups.


MOUSUMI ROY

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