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How ‘Honour’ Crushes A Woman’s Freedom Of Choice

By Nupur Choudhary:

Voters wait to cast their votes outside a polling booth at Chandrapur village, about 50 km (31 miles) south of Kolkata May 7, 2009. Millions of Indians began voting in the fourth round of a general election, including West Bengal where the ruling Congress-led alliance hopes to win crucial seats. REUTERS/Parth Sanyal (INDIA POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTXETJF
Image credit: Reuters/Parth Sanyal.

Admonition may not affect everyone but, indeed, it affects many among us. “Keep quiet my child, my honour resides in you…,” and she goes quiet once again. We think that that ‘her’ condition has improved from the past, but when I look around and observe, I find it to be an extraordinary illusion. An illusion where people are made to believe that ‘she’ is growing independent, stronger and mightier.

There are two kinds of choices in her life. One, where she accepts her fate and believes that nothing can be changed. Two, where she thinks that ‘I’, at least, have a much better life than case number one. However, there is a one word equivalent in both the lives, i.e., ‘honour’.

‘Honour’ in case one: “My child, one day you have to be a good wife, a good daughter-in-law, a good mother and everything good as you have to maintain your family’s honour.” ‘Honour’ in case two: “Work hard my child, study as far as you want. Become something in your life. However, always remember not to do anything which will bring shame to your family. Keep the honour lit in you. We trust you.”

Now, let’s analyse the two lives and keep it simple. What difference do we find in the two lives? One, where there is a total absence of freedom. A life in which choices are not hers but those of others. And two, where she is made to believe that the choices are hers. But her opinions are never given much importance. So, the entire concept of raising questions to the society in the form of ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ is crushed brutally by the rest. Therefore, even when her inner voice persuades her to ‘ask’ something to people (all those who have been crushing her voice) she either dares not to or simply cannot speak up.

When you treat members of one gender, females, as objects of subjugation from birth, they cannot just rise up and speak out loud. Some voice inside her asks her to make some noise but she remains silent. What my understanding says is that silence is common in both cases, where the situations just do not belong to her, where nothing belongs to her. Her mind, body, attitude, and in fact, everything is ‘owned’ by others.

I have no complaints with this unjust and blind world, where despite seeing things people choose to ignore them. I just sit in a corner with a hope in my heart and my head. I hope and wait for a ‘revolution’ to happen. A grand wave where crushed voices will speak, speak out loud and ask ‘why’. I wait for a women’s era where patriarchy and chauvinist theories will be wiped out, not with matriarchy but with humanism. I hope the ‘whys’ come soon and ‘doubt’ gains ground. I am waiting for all the unheard voices to come together and make an uproarious noise. I am waiting for a time when we will not ‘ask’ for our rights but will take them. It’s ‘my’ right and I will fight for it.

This is for all those who think that there are invisible or visible chains and we need to break free from this device of bondage commonly known as ‘honour’.

You must be to comment.
  1. Anil

    Dear Ma’am, kindly look up the Sith code from Star Wars, you sound suspiciously like them.
    Whereas you might be right in one odd instance or another, law alone is not enough to stop crime.
    A sense of morality must be Imprinted upon people from birth. Morality, not humanism, as all
    perspectives need to be taken into account. It is, sitting on your PC or laptop, very easy to criticise
    Indian culture and values rather than attempting to making sense of it and at least trying to
    respect them.

    1. Anomitra Biswas

      But why does morality have to be inscribed on the body of the woman?

      (And c’mon, the repression of the Old Jedi didn’t exactly do much good.)

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