ByÂ Ojaswini Srivastava:
I belong partly to Bihar and partly to Jharkhand (thanks to the division of states). I stay in Delhi and have lived around two years in Rajasthan as well. No, I am not a bit interested in giving my bio data. I am going to talk about feminism.
“Feminism? What? What Feminism?” this is what if someone from where I belong reads this piece will react like. Many of my relatives living in my hometown won’t understand what I am saying, and why am I saying it. Moreover, if they actually read it my maa may get a call saying “what the hell is your daughter up to? Her mind is being distorted. Please get her married as soon as you can”.
I really love most of my relatives. Though I can’t stand this mentality they have. And by them I represent many hundreds of small towns and villages whose maximum residents represent this school of thought. (I acknowledge there are exceptions, and respect them totally). I wonder, how will those people ever realize what feminism is? How will they change? How will they move ahead of their so-called traditions? Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan are namely some regions where such thoughts still exists rigidly. Many hundreds of families there are even today absolutely patriarchal and extremely deprived from any hint of a movement like feminism. If today they hear of a rape, without one thought, men and women alike will say, “The girl is responsible, she should know how to conduct herself”. If they hear of a girl having an affair, again, all men and women alike will say, “get that girl married or she will ruin the family’s image”. And so on.
Who will make them understand that a girl will never throw herself in such a position as to get raped, and she will never be happy if you forcefully get her married off to someone ‘you think’ is a good match for her, etc. etc. etc.
What I wish to say is that like feminism has crossed borders of metropolitan cities and reached to the less developed ones, it’s high time we take initiatives to also let it reach places where people have absolutely no clue regarding feminism, I mean where people still have this notion, “sheher ki ladkiyon mein sanskar nahi hote”. The ‘Sanskar’ they talk about is a question of debate. Wearing what we like, hanging out with the opposite gender, not believing our role to be solely of a homemaker, dividing household chores with our partners, is sadly mistaken by them as a lack of sanskar.
Not extending the criticism further to the point of sounding disrespectful to any community, I conclude by saying, presently I myself don’t know what shall be the solution to this issue I am highlighting. How can such schools of thought be shut? How can feminism reach them? How can we make them perceive feminism in the right spirit? How can we make them understand we are all born humans and therefore are equal? These questions I cannot answer. Even though this is one thought which bothers me too much, when I look around my little world, see my relatives and remember my roots. But, I am sure, it must have occurred in many other minds, and been struggling with answers, lets therefore think, what shall be done, how can we proceed, what shall be the right move, and work in that direction positively, as development cannot be confined to the cities, they have to reach the marginal regions as well, only then can the country change and grow.