Tag Archives: Human rights

A woman’s freedom: A family’s biggest fear.

Now, we arrive to the topic which has been a lot in debate lately: Women’s autonomy and personal rights. 

This post is briefly in reference to my earlier post: India’s Daughter: A much needed reality check.

https://perspectiveindianlife.wordpress.com/indias-daughter-a-much-needed-reality-check/

We have all heard people talking about women’s rights. But there seems to be few misunderstandings and confusion which we all need to go in depth and talk about it. 

It seems to me that a lot of people seem to confuse between understanding women’s autonomy and putting them on a pedestal.

Lets get to the roots first: What does autonomy mean? What does empowerment mean? What does leading a free life mean? What does personal choice and rights mean?

Autonomy and personal choice means leading your life the way you want to. Even if others disapprove of it, even if others get scandalized by it. It also means taking responsibility along with the immense freedom it provides. It also means having the rights to make mistakes and learning from it. It means being treated as a human being, rather than a dispensable sub human which women in India are treated as.

No matter, how “uncultured” a woman is for having a partner(s), how “arrogant” she is for working, how “pitiable” she is considered for not being married, how “selfish” she is for not having a baby, she has a right to live the way she wants and make personal choices without the society bombarding her with questions and harassing her.

Now, some of the most problematic sentences, which people use to whitewash women’s oppression in India are like “Women are like Gods to us. We worship them” and “Respect women because they are a mother, a daughter, a sister and a wife

These are rather patronizing sentences I have seen people make. The problem with such statements is that it implies that a women should be given “respect” only if the society deems her for “respect”. She should be made to sit on a throne as a reward to conform to the social norms. She should be given “respect” only if she is a wife, a mother, a sister and a daughter. Otherwise, she is not worthy of living.

What if the woman is not a conformist? What if she refuses to blindly obey her parents and decides to take charge of her life the way she wants to? What if she doesn’t want to get married or produce children ever? What if she is making choices that the society deems inappropriate?

Will the society will harass her by saying that “she was not worthy of respect”?

Keeping our Indian society in mind, sadly, the answer is a yes!

In a patriarchal system, like India, what parents and society fear the most, is a women having autonomy over her life. Parents fear that their daughter will end up making choices which will make them embarrassed in society. Which is why parents are very worried about giving daughters any freedom (even to talk to other boys, use of internet or leave the house for education or a job) to ensure that their daughter’s marriage prospects are not ruined.

Since birth, she is considered a paraayaa dhan or someone else’s commodity.

In many families, we see that their daughters are “married off” during their teen years, by their own parents in the fear that these girls should not develop a voice of their own.

A lot of girls who are getting married in such an arranged (rather abusive) marriage system, don’t even have a clue that they are being married off to someone until the day of their wedding. Once they are married, they are forced to leave their parental home and forced to move in with her husband and his gigantic family to an unknown land.

It is almost like women are blindfolded by parents and society and thrown in the swap filled with crocodiles hoping their fate will save them. If not, their fate was bad. 

To make things worse, her parents don’t even give a shit if their daughters are abused in her husband’s home as their “responsibility” (of getting her married) is over. Even if she is working, she is forced to leave her job because of her in laws and their demanding nature, thereby, leaving her completely dependent on her husband and his family.
Then comes the baby, and she is stuck for life!

Now, the society will consider such a woman a Goddess, a woman worthy of respect, a women worthy to be put on a pedestal and the rest who are not conforming to the society, will be questioned, harassed and even assaulted in some cases.

Basically, my main message here is that to recognize the real meaning of women’s rights. Women need to be treated as a human being who should have the freedom to make personal choices (even if they embarrass their parents, relatives and society) and not be harassed and questioned by the everyone if they don’t conform to their values of a stereotypical “cultured woman”.

Arranged aka. Forced Marriage: A human rights violation

Indians are obsessed with marriages: Something which their lives revolve around, something they use as a conversation starter. 

Marriage of daughter, for some parents, is a lifetime achievement.There is immense pressure on young women, and even men, for marriage.

Parents prepare for this event since the day a child is born. They are groomed in ways (as per gender requirements) to ensure that they get the best match possible. By best, they do not mean the qualities which will make their son/daughter happy; but the qualities which will give the parents the most status and honor in society.

Life is miserable for both, young men and women in India, mainly due to the immense entitlement of the elders (parents) and their unreasonable expectations they have from young bride and grooms. They are responsible for creating this dysfunctional relationship and marriages. Here is in detail the process of marriages.

Groom: The “hunt” for a groom is probably the toughest task parents go through. Combined with this nightmare, daughters have absolutely no autonomy over their lives to choose a partner for themselves. The parents look for only one thing in a groom: Will my potential son-in-law person give them better social status? They never care about their daughter’s (even son’s) happiness.

The problem arises that such groom, who will give them better social status, are very few in number; while the women waiting to marry him, are in majority.

The groom’s parents have the upper hand and can call the shots. That is where dowry comes into play. An additional incentive to the groom for doing them a “favor” by marrying their daughter. Also, to have a better chance compared to all other families competing for him.

The groom is taught since childhood that his worth is based upon the income he earns. He is solely judged upon his academic and professional success.  The amount of money he earns, the car he drives, size of his house, family reputation, caste, all are the main parameters he is judged upon. He is reduced to an ATM machine by everyone. God forbids if he loses his job!

Worst is his parents’ entitlement which plays a major role in destroying many lives of young individuals making them extremely bitter and frustrated. His parents, after all, only want a daughter in law for themselves, whom they can make work like slaves and make her produce babies (sons) to continue the family lineage. In case of their sons, they can ensure that he keeps working like dogs and they can sponge off their son.

The amount of entitlement and narcissism by the boy’s parents associated with this thinking is unbelievable. Funny thing is that in such a poor country, we have majority of the joint family taking about “family lineage” and “successor”.

In some cases, when a boy is in his early 20s, his parents give him an ultimatum to find some girl for himself or his parents will get him married to a stranger they choose. Boys at that age feel extremely pressured to find a bride for themselves, or pressure the girl he is dating, for marriage.

The conditioning of their parents is so deep, that they get goosebumps even with the idea of questioning their parents against this forceful way of getting them married. This is a human rights violation. In fact, human rights is a bloody joke to them.

Bride: Brides are abused even more in India. Girls are disempowered since birth in India. Her parents select a groom when the girl is very young in age. The idea is to get her “married off” as young as possible when, when she is impressionable as parents fear two things 1) She will start having independent thoughts and start questioning her parents 2) Fear of losing potential “good” grooms. The criteria for arranged wives are good looks, family reputation, caste, and fertility.

She too, is reduced to a cooking, baby producing machine. Worse, after marriage, she is made to leave her maternal home and forced to live with her husband’s family where she is always treated like an “outsider”. This idea is so ingrained in Indians that if she ever demands her rights, she is called arrogant, crazy, ill behaved, etc.

Even husbands don’t stand up for their wives against his own family as he is so deeply conditioned that he family is “flawless”.Even if he sees his wife being ill-treated by his family, he goes into denial mode. We then hear statements by husbands like “no big deal” or “over thinking” or “making a mountain of a mould”.

Even if he does stand up for his wife at some point, he is mocked by his own family by being called a “joru ka gulham”. With this mockery, even he feels pressure to prove his family wrong and join them in the ragging of his wife.

Specially his mother, as she too has been treated like shit and an “outsider” all her life. So. she feels that her son is one point of support and her daughter in law will “steal” her son away from her which makes her extremely insecure about her son leading to interference in their private lives.

After all, it is all about control over young people!

Wedding: Indians weddings are such a massive grand affair lasting from days to even weeks. You find socially-sanctioned extreme narcissism in such events. Loud music, people dancing on the roads, a clan of at least two thousand people, blingy clothes, relatives and their taunts on people, endless barbaric ceremonies. The ceremonies are so patriarchal, that the everything is about the girl bowing down the groom and his family.

Weddings are one of the most abusive life events in young Indians. In the name of traditions and rituals, brides (and even the grooms) are abused by their relatives.

These ceremonies are to undignified and garish, that even the though of an Indian wedding, makes me cringe. People end up spending upto Rs 1 crore in such events. Everything has to be super lavish so that their relatives should not make fun of them.

People not only end up wiping clean their banks on such events, but also borrow from relatives, take loan for such events. Majority of the expenditure is expected by the bride’s parents.

It is not unthinkable that the bride’s parents may not even have money to go the doctor when they are sick, despite medical being cheap in India. I guess this solves the mystery why Indian parents don’t want daughters as this toxic culture will make them bow to the above mentioned social norms.

The way young people are treated, is a big insult to human rights violation. Worse, this is happening in even the educated bunch of India as well.  It is very difficult to change this toxic culture as forces from all over are pushing you towards a single direction.

Life is so miserable for young Indians that only disappearing from the scene helps them lead a better life; or one needs to be super strong to resist this culture in a search for a better life in India.

Note: In the United Kingdom, there have been programs to prevent such forced marriages as this was a big problems amongst Bangladeshis. Parents can be arrested and it is considered a serious crime.

I hope that someday, in India, people start recognizing this abuse and make parents accountable. If need be, they should be arrested for forcing their adult children to marry. We will have happier individuals. It would be personal dream come true!