A woman’s body

This post is a part of Linda’s stream of Consciousness, you can find it here at-

http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-514/

Bodies –

There are many things that come to my mind when I think about bodies, I’m going to start jotting them down as I think about them, thus staying true to Linda’s rules.

A woman’s body: Every morning when I read the newspaper or watch the news or step outside my home, I realize what a pity it is to be a woman. From where I come, rapes are a daily thing, two to three cases are reported every single day and now it has stopped evoking responses of shock and horror and instead has become a mundane thing, like it is as normal as the sun rises every day in the morning.

Women are raped everywhere irrespective of their age, from a 6 month old baby to a 70 year old lady. What I don’t understand is why? Many a times as I walk on the road, men will invariably try to touch me or “accidentally” fall on me, hoot/whistle and sing songs. Why? Neither am I troubling them nor am I interrupting whatever it is they are doing, then why should I be targeted for being someone who minds her own business.

So much is the obsession with a woman’s body that irrespective of what she is wearing, be it a short skirt or a burqa, men leer. Leer at what? I don’t understand. Whenever a woman gets into a bus, men will stare at her and try to strip her naked, by their looks and make her feel shameful.

They try to peek into their clothes from above trying to catch a glimpse of cleavage, they stare at her legs while her skirt lifts up a bit, they try to pinch her waist or behind by taking advantages of the crowded bus, they try to make out the shape of her body from her clothes and at times comment at her inners while she wears a transparent top.

And all this for what? For a woman’s body.

Men here do not understand/accept that a woman can desire/want a man. She is only present to satisfy the needs of a man and has no choice whatsoever. Many a time spurned lovers rape or murder or kidnap or forcibly marry or douse women in acid when they have refused their advances.

They make sure that the woman they love is destroyed in every manner possible, rendering her body useless for another man so that out of the lack of option and societal pressure she is finally married off to her abuser.

Ownership:  As women, we are told from our childhood that we shouldn’t indulge in any sort of sexual activity because apparently that is the right of only our husband. Post marriage, a husband becomes the owner of his wife’s body. Such is the apathy by the society that to discourage women, sexual education isn’t given at all, their logic – “Ignorance is Bliss”.

Further women are subjected to marital rape which is not recognized as a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code. Domestic violence for dowry (money that the bride’s father pays to the groom because he has done the supreme favor on the bride and her parents by marrying her) is another issue that is taken very lightly, almost as a joke.

The husband beats up his wife and makes marks on her body and then sends her back to her parent’s home just so that they look at the pathetic condition of their daughter and send the husband more money. The Domestic violence is not restricted to only physical abuse but mental and sexual torchers too, it is intensified to such a level that at times women commit suicide out of a lack of option and at times she is herself murdered by her husband.

A woman’s position is no better than a maid, even though she has the same educational qualification as her husband.After all her main motto in life is “pati parmeshwar” (a husband’s stature is no lower than god).

This is funnier because it is considered bad if your daughter takes power in her hands and walks out of any abusive relationship and worse if her parents support her in this but good if her parents do send her back to the hell hole with a bag of money to pacify her husband. The rule followed here is ‘Get married and stay married”, come what may.

So much is the madness over the ownership of a woman’s body that her in-laws get her abortion done forcefully if they find out that she is pregnant with a girl child. The advice of temple priests and various “baba” (men who declare themselves as gods) are taken and rituals are performed just so that she bears a boy.

In case she doesn’t bear a boy but gives birth to a girl, many a times the girl child is killed/thrown in the dustbin or the in-laws let the woman stay alone in the hospital not visiting her for days together and threaten her parents that they wouldn’t let her back in their homes.

The antidote for this threat is money and sending the girl forcibly back to her in-laws place to undergo the same torcher to give birth to a boy. At times when a woman doesn’t succeed, the husband and his parents start their search for a new girl, even in the presence of his wife, someone young and beautiful who will successfully give birth to males thus, carrying forward the “name” of the family.

Two days ago, the Supreme Court of India has made a cringe worthy statement that women use the dowry harassment act falsely against her husband. So much for living in a patriotic country, a woman being the citizen of her own country is denied basic protection by the laws of her own country.

Burning Pyre: Recently my grandmother and a family member of mine passed away. What is astonishing is that according to hindu religion, the fire that is to be put to the pyre must be done by the eldest son in the family or in the absence of a son, by any other “male” member of the family.

People say that death at times unites families, however even during the times of unity, women are separated and given no rights. Being a daughter myself, I have made it very clear to my parents that in case their bodies are to be burnt I and my sisters will do the ritual because they are my parents.

The tradition of kanyadyaan (giving away your daughter during marriage) is also performed by the father.

During the death of a person in case the husband dies, the wife is dressed up in her wedding dress and is brought in front of the dead body of her husband. Then all the things that mark the signs of a married women are wiped off, mainly the vermilion placed at the parting of her hair on the forehead, the mangalsutra is removed and the glass bangles that she wears are broken by banging her hands together till all of them break, resulting in deep cuts on the wrist of the woman.

She is then made to wear a white sari for the rest of her life, denoting that since her husband has died, she deserves no happiness. In the cities however, this is a bit different, the woman is made to wear bland colors and white.

Despite the gory rituals, widowed women aren’t allowed in the wedding rituals as she is considered bad luck. My father’s sister, who is a widow, too had faced the same discrimination.

Whereas, if a man’s wife dies, he is subjected to no torcher, in fact he is sympathized with to such a great extent that within a few months the search for his new bride begins.

I read this somewhere and I do try to follow it to the extent that I can. Do have a look – https://campusdiaries.com/stories/grandmothers-story

People call me a feminist, but all that I have is a simple request: I want women like me to be treated as equals, as human beings.

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41 thoughts on “A woman’s body

  1. Thank you for sharing this story, common to so many women in India. As a feminist in the US, it is sobering to hear about what women and girls in India endure on a daily basis. Wishing you strength and peace.

  2. Every day I feel that what is worse Men raping women or women stating that women should be covered to avoid rape? What is better ? Your post is what I was thinking just today about..

    For instance in a Democracy every citizen has rights and duties.. so why is it that in India.. Husbands /Men have rights and women/Wives have only Duties? Shouldn’t both have Rights and duties equally? A woman has the right to say no and a right to decide how she dresses right to decide when she wants a baby etc.

    Each day her rights are violated! it makes me sick to be part of a nation where women are commodities and not treated as humans with equal status as any man

    • so true, my thoughts exactly!
      Its atleast a relief to know that there are like minded people. Our problem being that we have been in oppression for so long that it has become a way of life for women here to be raped, eve teased, abused and killed.

      • yes .. just today I saw a facebook post on “Yes I wear a bra” and boy the horrible comments from men and women on it were shameful.. just disgusting to see men and even women write such derogatory things and they completely missed the point the authoer “Logical Indian” was trying to make.

        It’s like in this age of technology we have lost our intellect and humanity and have turned into beasts!

        I was beyond upset and it just proves that India will not change for another 100 years!

      • I know, this comment –
        Sensible dressing is important, but that’s not a justification of rape

        Let’s not encourage exposing clothes
        Let’s encourage freedom of choice
        Let’s encourage men to mind their penises

        that got 9000 odd likes itself goes against what the post says, even if I want to expose, you are no one to stop/rape/leer/stare, my body is my right and the next comment was stupid and sick, shows exactly how men think. Education also won’t bring about any change whatsoever, they have been brainwashed to such a high extent by religion that since their women aren’t allowed to go around without the veil, they think it is wrong that any woman is allowed such a freedom and will stare/leer and comment at you and when you retort back, they say look at our women, how safe they are, the sad part is that they are made to be invisible if not for anything else, with their mouths covered it feels like their voices are being stifled.

  3. I agree.. the comments from so called educated people is sick.. Facebook has turned into Hatebook by them and the old saying ” If you have nothing nice to say,say nothing” is lost on these people.

    I fear being in India and marrying someone from here because of the possibility of abuse. No matter how “forward” a man may seem during dating the ideas change the moment we say “I do”.. I have seen so many date confident ,modern women who dress well and marry the “meek, domestic, covered in saree” woman who wont challenge them

    sad and sick

  4. Wow. What a beautifully succinct post about the way of life of so many – it’s truly incredible to me that this type of inhumanity is allowed in the modern world. It brings me quite literally to tears. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  5. Thanks for sharing your insight knowledge, you are a brave young woman 🙂
    The world need to read and hear about the horrible way that women are treated at in India and some other countries too. Education and learning about respect for all life should help too.
    Irene

  6. Quite a post, well crafted, yet containing so much sadness. gives me hope to see that there are intelligent and outspoken women like yourself in the mix as well. I really believe change starts with one.

  7. Not just India, the whole South Asian culture actually SUCKS. Not just the physical rape of women, but every second, psychological rape of men and women are taking place too. We are actually just a senseless region, mentally still slaves. No freedom of choice, but just encouragement for following the rituals;senseless rituals.

    “Duality, the Most Unfortunate Reality” (fits for South Asia)

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  9. Great post. You pretty much hit the nail on the head. The concept of ownership in particular angers me like no other. I am no one’s possession. I am my own master. What I do with my life is my own choice.This is a personal confession to put in the comments section, but i don’t care – I broke the no-sex before marriage rule, and that’s part of the reason ma and baba hate me, and call me a slut and whore at every opportunity they get. They don’t even sugar coat it. As far as they’re concerned, their life is over if anyone they know finds out. Oh, and no respectable Indian boy will want to marry me. Frankly, I’m glad for that lol.
    p.s.-That pic – is that Kalki Koechlin?

    • Why is it a taboo to have SEX!?
      There I said it! all in bold.
      Make it a point to put across that unsafe sex is wrong and use proper safety measures but banning it all together makes no sense.
      Its not that we are anyways going to obey it and follow, out of curiosity we will try it out for sure and when things go wrong, we are left clueless as to what to do!

      I truly think and believe that do what you wish provided that you know that you are capable enough to face the consequences (good/bad/if any) and NO ONE gets a right to say what to do with your life/ nor pronounce judgement/ comment on it.

      If a “respectable” Indian boy feels that marrying a virgin itself would do him good, then he can gladly shove his “respectable” status up his…(you know what!?) 😛

      Yeah! that is Kalki, and I love her! 🙂

  10. Thought provoking. If a woman walked down a street naked she would be seen as ‘asking for it’. If a man was seen walking down the street naked I’m sure it would be unlikely he was raped, regardless of strength issues.
    How we judge…

  11. Thank you for your brave and honest post. It seems so strange to hear of such practices and beliefs and common violence towRd women in 2014. And while being a woman in the western world is not always a picnic, we are obviously blessed and privileged compared to our sisters in other parts of the world. It should infuriate every woman when this happens and compel us to do what we can to change these beliefs and change the laws that protect the men who abuse and oppress women.

    I went to India with some male friends for a long holiday. I noticed that while in many restaurants and other places, no one spoke directly to me but only addressed my friends. I also felt that I received stares because I was traveling with men. One of the last nights we were there we were at a fairly high class hotel/restaurant and I went to the bathroom by myself. When I was leaving I ran into 3 Indian men whom my friends had been conversing with at the bar. They smiled and said hello and so I did as well. Then one of them reached out and grabbed my breast. I pushed him away and quickly went back to my friends. I was very shaken up. Being “typical” (I think) American men, upon hearing of what happened, they rushed to find the perpetrators to teach them a lesson. It was scary mostly because I know how much worse it could have been. I haven’t told that story, mostly because I knew people would blame me. I shouldn’t have been traveling in a country that was anti-women, I shouldn’t have been wearing a shirt that bared my arms, I shouldn’t have gone to the restroom alone, etc.

    Sorry for such a long comment. Thank you again for your post!

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