By Sneha Bhavadasan
Thrissur: I am a girl who took birth in India. Should I feel proud of it or be ashamed? Here is an attempt is to clear my dilemma. You be the judge.
The major risk my mom took in her life was perhaps to give birth to a girl in this country. Why do I say that? There are many reasons. Let me list a few.
I was born in a country where Razia Sultana once ruled the Delhi Sultanate. Historians hail her as a brilliant monarch who governed with justice and peace.
This is the same country where Shakuntala Devi, who holds the Guinness Book record for her ability to do insanely large mental calculations, was born. Indira Gandhi, the “Woman of Millennium” and the only female prime minister of the country, too lived here.
I can list more such women: Bhakti Sharma, the youngest in the world to create a swimming record in the waters of the Antarctic, and Arunima Sinha, who despite losing a leg in an accident managed to climb Mount Everest.
Many Indian women have become global inspiration.
So, I should feel proud to be born in such a country, shouldn’t I?
Unfortunately, I do not, because this country has the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous land for a girl to be born. Mine is a country where people kill their child in womb just because it happens to be a girl. Ironically, they look for young girls in neighborhood for ‘Kanya pooja,’ an annual religious ritual honoring girl children.
This is also the country where a girl works on her appearance only to draw men’s attention but not to enhance her self-confidence.
India records a girl-related crime occurs every 10 minutes. Media reports indicate that 7 out of 10 cases registered daily day in India are crimes against women. And they keep increasing every year. These are cases reported. I am sure many crimes go unreported.
Crimes may be the worst danger women face in India. But they are other dangers, subtler. This is a country where society controls women’s speech, thought, power and actions. Society expects a girl to do only those things that satisfy others but not herself.
We admit being a girl is very problematic in India. But is it just of the judgmental, dominating and harassing men or are there other reasons.
We often demand men should treat us properly, with dignity and respect. We have complained about male treatment of women for generations. But is male chauvinism the only problem a girl face? What about women treating other women? Don’t they create problems for a girl?
Yes, it is agonizing to realize that even women suppress women. And they could be the most trusted person. Why do we go far? The suppression of women begins with none another than their own mothers. Then, relatives, cousins, neighbors, friends and coworkers add to the list of oppressors.
It is true gender discrimination begins from our own families. To cite an example, when relatives come home the mother would generally ask her daughter to serve them tea or food. The daughter also has to wash the dishes.
But the mother does not ask her son to do these chores. She would do them herself. The son is treated like a prince. Mother wouldn’t ask the son even to wash his own plate.
Such preferential treatment would give men the notion that only women should do these chores. They also believe women are to be ignored.
I am sure you have seen women disparaging other women.
Let me reiterate: It is not only men but women are also a threat to girls.
Women should often ask themselves how they treat other women? How much do we hurt them?
We talk so high about gender equality and feminism. But if a boy gets emotional we ask him not to be a girlie.
This shows women admit they are weaker and emotionally imbalanced. Unless we change, how can we expect changes in men?
Women would blame society for the discrimination they face. But they forget they are also part of that society. So, it is for them to take the first towards gender equality, justice and fair play.
Now, please tell me whether I should be proud to be a woman in India? Your answer would help millions of girls and women in this land.
[Sneha Bhavadasan is studying post graduate diploma in banking and finance. She lives in Thrissur, Kerala.)