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