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 Her situation is tragic because she is subjected to outdated patriarchal notions that a male is more superior to a female or because a female is considered a bigger financial and moral burden to the family.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.
The picture of women in India is a very ambivalent one.
People familiar with India are familiar with female leaders in the political, economic and social field. There are female leaders in India holding exceptionally high ranking posts both in politics and business, who are bold, daring and determined and have contributed in different ways to progress in Indian life. There are women who have learnt to assert themselves, who are emancipated, made careers or become professionals. But such developments have not benefited more than 25% of Indian women.
Neither at the national level nor at the state level are women’s rights accepted as self understood. In most sections of Indian society women are mostly relegated to the domestic field and hence their role is only seen as social in nature. The patriarchal mind set is so dominant that no space is allowed or given for women to establish their own identity. Society often sees a girl as somebody who in any case is going to be married, stay at home and hence does not need schooling, work or a job.
It is this patriarchal mind-set together with the deep-rooted thinking that women are inferior that is a huge big blockade in accepting that women are capable of playing an active role in society beyond the domestic sphere. It is this mind-set that prevents giving women a voice in their own lives. It is this mind-set which makes men think that they and only they can decide or are capable of making life decisions for their women folk. It is this mind-set which puts the burden of upholding the family reputation on the women. It is this mind-set that makes men prefer having boys rather than girls. It is this mind-set why a rape culture can thrive and that too a gang rape culture. It is this mind-set that accepts child marriages in spite of many laws. It is this mind-set that is the underlying stumbling block in eradicating the dowry system. It is this mind-set why sex selective abortions prevail in India. It is this mind-set that limits women’s rights to education, to work and to a profession, to ownership of property, to a choice of when they get married and to whom, of what they do if their marriages are unhappy, to their pathetic position as a widow. It is this mind-set that is preventing women from playing their rightful role in Indian society, in Indian politics and in the Indian economy.
It is ultimately this mind-set that will limit the progress that India is capable of making in the future and in becoming a real global player.
Wow, that was faster than I thought possible. Sexual offenders guilty of rape, stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks among others will in future have to reckon with up to 20 years imprisonment, and even life imprisonment or death sentence for repeat offenders. The law forsees that 18 years is the age of consent for sex. The Indian Lower House (Lok Sabha) has just passed an anti rape bill which de facto amounts to an amendment of diverse clauses in various penal laws and regulations. The bill is meant to be a clear deterrent signal that Indian society will not tolerate such crimes. The bill still needs to be passed by the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) which however is not considered problematic.
Well this is definitely a milestone worth registering. It looks like the steadfastness of the various demonstrators, the vehemence of many women’s rights activists, the public outrage and the international reaction to the sexual excesses of the recent past have apparently had their impact.
Now that the Indian legislative organs have amended laws so as to prevent sexual assault, it is now up to the executive and law implementing organs to start doing their job.
Such news is a sad testimony that proves the need for more urgent and fundamental action to prevent sexual assault in India. This time it is a Swiss tourist who is raped and tragically right in front of her husband. Apparently there are enough men in India who consider it necessary to show off their sexual prowess by resorting to gang rape. This is tragic to say the very least!!
This is a clear indication that the limited natural interaction between males and females as prevalent in bigger sections of Indian society is leading to suppressed sexual desire. A good part of this pent-up sexual energy seeks rape as an outlet. This could explain the high statistics of one rape every twenty minutes. All this really urgently calls for introducing social education to promote a natural interaction between males and females. After all India is economically not in the 19th century!!
Happy International Women’s Day everybody! On International Woman’s day I greet all the demonstrators of Delhi and all the many other cities of India. By protesting not just once but many many times you have made a hole in the fabric of silence that prevails over India on gender issues.
Woman of India have to stand up against the violence and brutality (be it physical, sexual or psychological in nature) that they are exposed to. They have to start talking, protesting, denying, exposing and decrying abuse. Breaking the culture of silence means making society aware of the imbalances that prevail and saying “I am a woman, a citizen of this country like every other man and i have rights too and I will not tolerate this any more”.
Let us hope that the Indian Presidents good wishes are taken more seriously by Indian authorities and society in future.
Mitu Khurana a woman like any other in India. And yet her painful journey through the prejudices and contorted perceptions of Indian society are an eye opener. She like her husband and his family is educated. She is a doctor and yet! She is tricked into having an ultra sound sex determination test during her pregnancy. She was bullied to abort the female fetus (twins) she was carrying when her husband knew they were going to be females. She refused, stood up for her convictions and decided to have her twins in spite of all the family pressure. She filed a law suit.
Female foeticide and infanticide is barbaric. I am a pro-lifer. Education should widen one’s horizon and make one receptive for other views. It is tragic to know that education has in this case not opened the eyes of her husband’s family. As a doctor one knows enough about the chromosomes and that the male determines the gender of a new born. This development really needs to be stopped.
The Indian commission set up to review the status of sex crimes in India has submitted its report in record time. The recommendations range from better implementation of existing laws, sensitizing the population to gender issues and more severe legal sentences. However the biggest challenge for all social organisations will be trying to change antiquated patriarchal attitudes which legitimize violence and injustice against woman.
Will India consequently implement the recommendations of the commission? Will the citizens of the country wake up to this call for social change or forget it and return to their trudge through life based on antiquated customs and habits which have little relevance to the 21st century.
The initial reactions are promising. The massive demonstrations in Delhi and the resonance to the one billion rising campaign which was organised worldwide on 14th February are starting points. Two other examples are the reaction of the Shri Ram school in New Delhi or Anoushka Shankar’s (daughter of Ravi Shankar) appeal to many to join the campaign.