Friday, January 18, 2013

Blame? Accepted . . . Anyone to share

Much has been written, blogged, videographed and talked about the violence that women and girls face in our country. The whole country was sort of having a referendum on what has to be done to prevent such outrageous acts. 

Is it that there has never been violence against women in the pasts? We’ve had worser incidents in the past . . . the most recent being the outraging the modesty of a young lady in the middle of Guwahati city. And before that of 2 young men being slaughtered to death in the middle of Mumbaifor trying to protect few women from being eve-teased. Both the incidents had used the social media to raise awareness. I wonder what progress is being made. 

Over the weeks, many of our politicians and religious leaders have laid bare their intellectual and moral decadence so much that they should have lost at least 50% of their followers. But, I wonder if that has happened.

I wonder so because I am not sure if this is the same thoughts that go through the average Indian’s mind when he thinks about the Indian woman or the girl-child.

In most of our society’s, the birth of a girl child is greeting with a sneer. There is ‘bada khushi’ when a boy is born. No so with the girl. It is seen as a life sentence to the parents to ready her ‘to be a flower in someone’s garden’. Like one of my patients who told me the phrase above. ‘How will I think much about someone who’s not going to adorn my family after a certain age’?

We all know of the countless fetuses which are flushed down the drain of many an obstetrician’s clinic just for the reason that the fetus was a female. Flushing down female fetuses is big time business. It is not unusual to find quacks, nurses and doctor’s assistants do this to make a life.

If she is lucky to be born . . . well and good. Recently someone commented that it would be better for the baby to die before birth as it is too dangerous in India to have a girl child. ‘She may be raped’ ! ! !

Once she is born, the struggle continues. If she is the first child, the parents would be all the more anxious that they have a boy baby soon. And if they do have one within one year, the life of the first girl child is doomed.

She learns to be contented with the leftovers of the food after the male folk have eaten . . . she learns to knit frocks from her mother’s old saris . . . her mother thrusts the knife and vegetables to her hand - - she needs to know cooking well . . . she learns to wake up early in the morning to wash the dishes and give feed to the cattle. . . and then she has go to school - - - because there is free mid-day meal to get there . . . and by evening, she is very tired.

After some time, the family decides that she stops going to school. There are enough dangers on the way . . . and then they should find the ‘garden’ where she settles. Before, she knows anything about her own body, there is a husband waiting for her . . .

Stunted and malnourished, she is soon nurturing another human being in her womb. There is the question pushed to her again. Is it a boy or girl? If it’s a boy . . . great . . . she is going to have a good time.

She learns that boys are better to have than girls . . . and herself prefers to have boys rather than girls. 

I could go on and on . . . Of course, all of the above if she doesn't get raped in between any of the paragraphs. 

And worse when she is harmed by her own, who have been entrusted with her care. 

The question is whether I’m interested in changing all of the above. From the protests we saw in the capital, it looks like there is a genuine interest.

However, I doubt.

Many of us thought that what we saw in the streets of Delhi in repesentative of what India stands for. Dear friends, what we saw in the streets of many of our cities were from India . . . not Bharat. The narration I gave you above is that of Bharat. Chetan Bhagat has  written a interpretation of his on this issue in the Times of India.

I don’t know whether there is less rape in Bharat compared to India. One of our leaders says that Bharat is clean. However, I can vouch for the fact that there is no status for the girl child or the woman in Bharat. To make matters worse, policing and abiding of the law is worse in Bharat.

The ‘Bharatiya Nari’ has no voice. Very similar to the ‘India against corruption’ movement, my fear is that the protests we see against the violence towards women will die down. I wish that does not happen.

However, there is a major vested interests primarily from our politicians who will work against the Bharat becoming educated and developed. They have thrived on illiteracy and poverty to bring themselves on to the pedestals and ivory towers that they occupy.

At least we, Indians, need to realise that there is another group of our own countrymen who have no access to the basic amenities that we Indians enjoy . . . they are the ones . . . who build the metros and the buildings. . . waving at us as we whiz past sleepy villages in the Rajdhanis and Shatabdis . . . selling up goll-guppas and chat on the road . . . clean our roads when all of us sleep . . . even producing the food that we eat.

As we live in mansions, they live in one roomed huts. They eat on a basic diet of rotis, a piece of onion and a slice of chilly while we gorge on burgers and ice-cream. When we seek out branded apparel, they search for some piece of cloth to cover their nakedness and shield from the winter chill .. .. .. Of course, they see the woman as a fixative to help them go on with their lives.

Producing children for their fields, fixing their food and helping them in their fields and work . . . that is the maximum they can think about the girl child and the woman.

Yeah . . . the mentality stays on when they get some sort of development into their lives.  Many of us, Indians have graduated from Bharat. And somewhere along with line we've failed to shake off the superiority complex we've harboured over women. The girl child and the woman is still seen as the helper rather than as a separate individual with her own dreams and wishes.

And the result is violence when the men folk see a change in the perceived role of the women. 

Change is something which is going to be very difficult. Of course, I do not deny the fact that more stringent laws and practical ways of enforcing them needs to get priority. 

Stephen Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard has quoted that change came about when women began to assume positions of power and make their interests known. Have not we had enough of women leadership in the country?

But, it has not worked in India.  

The easiest part I can do is to believe that the best place to start a change is me.I need to ensure that I treat women on an equal footing . . . ensure that I give them equal opportunities if not better. I need to ensure that my daughters would be able to develop to the maximum potential . . . I have to teach my son to respect the girls and women around him. 

And of course, the dangerous part . . . which I would better leave untold . . . You could be put in a position to defend a woman at the cost of your life.

I know that this is going to be just a very small contribution from my side to ensure that women are protected . . . but I’m sure that it is worth the effort taken. 

But, the bottom line is going to be about how fast we would be able to take along our fellow countrymen to respect womanhood and treat them as equal partners and stewards . . . and as I had mentioned in my first post on the Delhi incident, the changes have to start at the grassroot level . . . homes, communities, mohallas . . . 

This post is part of the contest Who is to be blamed? on

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