By Subodh Jain:
Tears well up in her eyes,
The news has pierced her heart.
She’s lost all faith in the future,
She wants to forget her past.
The knowledge is enough to haunt her,
The words so sharp they cut.
One look at that turned face,
Neither leaves any doubt nor a but.
Her future haunts her present,
Who’s afraid of her past?
She doesn’t know what to do,
She’s losing herself in the darkness, fast.
Since time unknown, patriarchy seems to be the norm of the world. The Indian society, where the women are worshipped, from the beginning has been dominantly patriarchal. And little has changed with time. In an Indian family, the identity of the constituent individuals is the father, his wife, his son, and if at all, his daughter. The father is the “man of the house“, his wife plays a productive role trapped in household drudgery and reproductive responsibilities, the son is the “chiraag” of the house, and the daughter is nothing but “parayi amanat“.
Discrimination towards a girl begins even before her birth. The notion of gender roles are preconceived and strongly established in every complex relationship within the family and society at large. Furthermore, it is needless to say that the media has played a major role in reinforcing the same stereotyped gender roles whether in the form of news updates or in the form of popular television serials. From the very beginning of her life, a girl’s birth is more a cause of sorrow than joy. Though predominant in rural India, this trend has not failed to appear in urban cities as well. Where the birth of a boy is a reason for huge celebrations, a girl child brings doom and shame to the family and disgrace to the mother.
This situation is a worldwide phenomenon. A large number of girls, especially in rural areas, don’t even attend school and among those who do, the girl students’ drop-out rate is very high. Girls have to engage in domestic and child care activities when parents are at work. The girl child grows up with a low self esteem. She grows up with a notion of temporary membership in her father’s house to be disposed off as soon as possible. In this social context, it is not surprising that the girl child like any other women has no value and her work is invisible and unrecognized.
In the unending cycle of deprivations and disadvantages that the girl is trapped in, throughout her life, she is furthermore crushed under the weight of an unfair early marriage, a premature pregnancy and numerous health risks. Moreover, the evil practices of girls being caught in customs such as devadasis, jogins and basavis is scattered in regions of Andhra and other parts of India. It is an outrageous violation of human rights as it creates a platform where young and innocent girls are made available for sexual abuse in the name of religion. The young jogin does not marry and becomes the common property of the village and an object of sexual exploitation.
The vulnerable position of the girl child cannot be understood singularly. Her status is a product of the society’s attitude towards women at large. Even as a reproductive machine, a woman’s life is valuable only if she produces a son. Traditions and scriptures reinforce society’s biases against the girl and hence is the saying: ‘‘Lord! Grant the girl to someone else, grant us a son!’’ Though, there isn’t any doubt that it is the woman who provides love, sacrifice and all happiness to her man and his family and serves them till her last breath. But what a tragedy it is that the same man misuses her. Should this not be matter of shame for the man and his world? The woman who provides the man everything she has and serves him selflessly gets maltreated like that!
India’s patriarchal society is to be blamed for all of it because it emphasizes on the need of male heirs to help earn the money for the family. Girls, on the other hand, are seen as “economic and social burdens” because they will eventually be married into another family and will require large sums of dowry. The government’s effective and regular attempts to change this system will never truly succeed unless the ideology of the girl being a burden itself is not changed.