In Indian mythology female Goddesses have ambivalent attributes. Some Goddesses like Devi or Shakti are depicted as equal to the male Gods. Some female Goddesses like Durga are often depicted as benevolent, protectors of moral order and as the consort of particular male Gods, Other depictions show certain Goddess as powerful and destructive as in the case of Kali. This ambivalence influences men in India today and one sees the full array of male attitudes to women in India.
Indian mythology has deep roots in India and it does have an affect on the psyche of Indian men and their attitude to women in general. Hindu Goddesses do not serve as paradigms for present day social values, but they do reflect certain expectations and notions prevalent in large sections of Indian society.
Many men have idealized notions of what their wives and womenfolk should be – that is they expect their wives to be similar to the “morally upright, benevolent and mild consort”. The burden of upholding this ideal sadly rests on the women.
The reality however is that some Indian men and women are more forward thinking and are transitioning into the 21st century while a whole bunch of Indian men still live in the 19th and 20th century and have notions and expectations that are at best antiquated if not archaic.
The violence seen in India especially towards women arises due to a combination of patriarchal role models as well as unrealistic notions and expectations about women.
A woman who decides to abort her child can be driven by political reasons, economic and financial reasons, social reasons, religious reasons, cultural reasons or even health issues. None of these reasons however can spare a woman the mental turmoil she goes through when she decides to abort her child. The emotional pain and feeling of loss can linger for a long time perhaps even during her whole lifetime.
A woman who chooses to abort her own unborn child because it is going to be a female denies her own femininity. So how desperate must her situation be that she even opts to do so? How dire must her situation be, her material status, the social pressures she is subjected to? Her situation is tragic because she is subjected to outdated patriarchal notions that a male is more superior to a female or because a female is considered a bigger financial and moral burden to the family. These practices deny a females right to live even before she is born and tragically enough through her own mother, grandmother!!
Sex selective abortive practices in India have tragically developed from a technological advancement in medical sciences. This combined with morally unscrupulous medical practitioners who are driven by profit have led to the over 12 million female fetus that have been aborted over 30 years in India. None of the laws passed by the Indian legislative system have been effective in stopping this practice because Indian law enforcing authorities do not have effective checks and balances in place and are not doing their jobs. It is time that the feminist movements in India address the social issues that lead to such oppressive practices. Professionals see the need for feminism in India to start “acknowledging sexism in daily life and attempting to challenge and eliminate it through deconstructing mutually exclusive notions of femininity and masculinity as biologically determined categories which opens the way towards an equitable society for both men and women”.
The Indian female is a victim of her own society’s elevation of males to a higher status than a female. The necessary step forward should mean fighting to establish equal political, economic and social rights for women.