By Amrita Kohli:
At first glance she seems strong and downright intimidating owing to her built and style of talking. Looks are deceptive though. She is sweet, loving and honest to her work. A woman of substance in a sense, as she raises three daughters working at people’s houses doing their household chores. Yet, despite all the above, I mention Tara because she is like any other woman belonging to the lower strata of society where women are considered less than nothing.
Her husband is a rickshaw puller and a physically abusive alcoholic. Needless to say the managing of finances is on the woman’s head. Her daughters have been raised to the best of her abilities; one is married, one is working owing to her education and the third is studying. Tara earns money through her own labour yet she gets beaten up by a man whose presence is required for her to survive in her society.
When I asked her how she could tolerate getting beaten up she smiled and said “Humare yahan yahi hota hai…” (This is a regular thing in my part of the world). I suggested having him arrested. She smiled a little more and said nonchalantly that it would have no effect on him. I wanted to wince at her attitude. Her smile angered me for a split second. Then I realized it was her acceptance of her misery. So I said nothing further. It didn’t stop me from thinking about it though.
Why are women subjected to such derogatory treatment? Why can’t a woman who earns her livelihood through honest means live her life without stigmatization? Why does a mother, who puts in her blood and sweat to raise her children in a dignified way, have to suffer at the hands of a man who doesn’t deserve to be called human, let alone husband and father?
The society we speak of is so segregated that even though there is considerable development in the way women are treated today, it still remains a struggle for its inhabitants. It’s a way of living, one that is not questioned. A man’s name means the universe to a wife and daughter in that part of the world. What I applaud though is how the same woman raised her daughters to be independent and didn’t transfer her inhibitions onto them.
Another woman with a similar plight had the courage to leave her husband’s house and live her life by herself. Bimla suffered for long and tried to salvage her situation many a times. Eventually, tired of being a source of income, raising the children and getting beaten up on top of all that, she gave up and left. She has four sons, two of whom are very young and live with her; the other two live with their father believing their mother to be a nonentity.
This is another thing that got me thinking. More boys raised with ideologies that deem women as subservient to them adds to the plight faced by the women in the lower strata of society, making it a vicious cycle. This is a classic example of how environment affects the behaviour of an individual. Education cannot have radical changes on a person if the surroundings he’s in work in an opposing manner.
Solutions are suggested but most women out there are not in a state to accept the help. They stick around because most of them don’t have the courage to let everything they’ve built up go waste. Women with daughters especially fear the life their daughters would have if they let go. While one chooses to live in the gallows yet fight for children another chooses to break free and make the most of what she has. And who is to say whether what they chose is right or wrong because there is no yardstick to measure life’s ups and downs especially if you are not the one dealing with them. What really helps is a sympathetic pat, a kind word and reassurance that you will be there; whether they chose to take that leap or decide to stay put.
The writer is a Correspondent and the Social Media strategist of Youth Ki Awaaz.