The Lives Half-Lived
Written by Riya Rana for Techkriti Bog for a Cause Contest
Travelling in crowded spaces can be, many a times, a horrible experience. For men, it might be frustrating but for women it’s like a trauma-probability game. There is, without fail, some pervert waiting to take advantage of the crowd and pass his hands through their body. Even in a group, there’s a high chance one might get groped, stared at or eve-teased. One has to be alert. Always.
It’s a shameful fact that all women in our country have at least one such harrowing tale to tell. There is this one experience which opens our eyes to the unpleasantness of being a woman in India. On one hand we have temples, statues and scriptures worshipping goddesses, depicting the greatness and courage of women. On the other hand, we have honor killings, rape, female infanticide, sexism, eve teasing, acid attacks and so on. Welcome to India, the land of extremes and probably the land of hypocrisy as well. Our law books contain many sections pertaining to crimes against women but still thousands of women are burnt, raped, killed every day. It’s a reality we live with, a mirror we can’t hide ourselves from.
Not a day passes when one hears news about violence against women, whether it was a brutal case of gang rapes or a female fetus being discarded in the dumps. Let’s face it: Our treatment of women is shoddy and far worse than disrespectful. Oppression and discrimination are blatant yet the shock factor seems to have diluted. Cases of extreme violence are on an indefinite rise, considering many go unreported. Women don’t seem to be safe even in their own homes. Domestic violence, dowry deaths, sati are still a daily occurrence till this date. Marital rapes are still not considered a crime, even after huge public and media pressure post the Nirbhaya rape case.
Such incidences are just the tip of the iceberg. Why such crimes occur, how they are dealt with by the judiciary and police, society’s contribution are some of the deep seated issues which highlight the status of women in India.
Earlier belief was that such evil acts could only be committed by the rural, ‘filthy’ populace. Urban cities mostly had positive attitudes towards women. If so, then, why do huge demands for dowry occur in even the high-society, so called western families? How does one explain the sexist remarks made by educated and elected officers? How do you defend the not-so-subtle objectifying portrayal of women in media and our quiet acceptance of it? Why is Delhi, the center of governance, called the ‘rape capital’?
Given a chance to live, girls are often seen as a liability, marriage being their destiny. Boys are seen as a better investment. Education for many is just a distant dream. Even those that are literate, are encouraged to give up on their jobs to become a child-bearing machine.
‘Roti gol nahi banaogi toh shaadi kon krega?’
‘ladkiya maths nahi kar sakti’
‘CEO? Business? Science? Yeh sab ladkiyo ke bas ki baat nahi’.
How many times have you, as a modern woman, heard this? A woman who does not know her household chores is useless. Women are considered incapable of achieving success in analytical topics and encouraged to stick to safer shores like home-science. Premarital sex and drinking are considered gateways to whore-ness.
We teach women to cover up and behave themselves, to not set out foot after sunset. We tell them to keep their mouths shut if some miscreant touches or leeches at them, to avoid ‘unnecessary problems’. We feed their sub-conscious with lessons telling them that any violence against their gender is, somehow, their fault. That they should wear ‘decent’ clothes and stay confined to gender roles. Our movies tell us that stalking is okay, rather a privilege, the girl is bound to be yours eventually. Our magazines tell women they are too dark, too fat. We bound them in mental chains of our own fears. So much judgment, so little freedom. Anguish, humiliation, tension, frustration and acceptance are common emotions of an Indian woman.
Many might argue that women have it better than before, with new rights, reservations, and better opportunities. India’s economy is booming and we are making headway at a considerable rate. To them, I have only one question- Can true progress be really achieved with half the population oppressed in some form or the other?
So whose fault is it? Yes, you may blame the government for not taking swift reforms and letting things go out of hand. You may lay the onus on the police for defying their responsibilities. Or you may just be a misogynist and blame women for their existence.
There is no simple single-try solution for it. Years of conditioning can’t be undone that easily. Firstly, we all should desensitize ourselves. We, as the society need to let go of our discriminatory attitude. We need to stop teaching women to stay closed and safe. Rather, men need to be taught how to respect women and consider them as their equals. Stricter laws and faster implementation are imperative. Women need to raise their voice against any form of injustice. Education and media play an important role as well.
I hope there comes a time soon when women don’t have to walk with fright in a dark alley, where we can live our lives to the fullest without fear, where we don’t have to live a different life and learn different lessons- compared to our male counterparts. True freedom, hopefully, will be attained.
“Hand that rocks the cradle
weakens every day,little by little
you fight for it
support your bit
and it shall rule the world
close your eyes, shut your ears
crumble it will, for sure.”