“One is not born a woman, but rather becomes a woman” – Simone Beauvoir.
These golden words quoted by Simone Beauvoir suggest that: ‘What we are today is not the result of our birth, but what we become while interacting with the society and people around us.’ Different traditions, beliefs, and social customs create a huge distinction between a Male and a Female, which results in inequality and leads to the victimization of women. The structures of the Indian society have defined a woman’s existence as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a domestic laborer.
Even if a woman is the head of the family after her husband’s demise, she struggles & fights hard to have the same command and respect in the community which her husband had. Even if the lady is literate, she is only seen as a house help and caretaker. The multi-tasking that she does for her family, goes totally unrecognized. The work of a woman is never-ending as she does n number of household chores like cooking, cleaning, taking care of the cows, buffaloes, goats, etc. Apart from this, many ladies have to go to the farm to cut the crop or for other things, sell vegetables in the local market in order to earn a living. She also has to keep her social relations intact in the village and with relatives.
In India, a woman is said to be treated and worshipped like a Goddess, but she loses her respect when it comes to practicality. The women of India are taught to always be loyal to their husbands; however, they are never told if their husbands too would be loyal. It is often said, “A husband is a lady’s prized jewel. If she loses him, she has zero existence in society”. Even in the urban areas, women are expected to do household chores, be the caretaker of their houses and be a nurturer to their kids. Even after being so educated and pretending to be modernized, we still do not respect and appreciate their existence.
A documentary, ‘Ghar Ki Murgi’, staring at the iconic television diva Sakshi Tanwar in the lead role reveals the life of a housewife and the way she is treated by her family members. Seeing that no one is interested in knowing about her feelings, health or dreams, she feels as if she is non-existing.
The women of the villages are tolerating all this and are silenced. Gender Inequality stops the women from asking for their rights and to put forward their opinions. This has been the same for ages. The women have believed that they are weaker than the male community. A 2014 Survey says that only 59% of the women in our country are literate. Countries and cultures that empower women and invest in their education: become richer, more stable, better governed and less prone to violence and corruption. However, countries that limit empowerment and education of women: are poorer, least stable, most fragile and highly violated & corrupted.
Women in villages are forced to give birth to a son, without even knowing the science behind the child’s birth. When she gives birth to a girl, she is cursed like anything and even gets a life threat sometimes. The lady’s husband is then forced to marry another woman because the elderly people think that she would give them a grandson. The woman/daughter-in-law has no right to speak for her and defend her in order to make them understand.
According to a survey which was conducted in one of the villages of Rajasthan, 63.66% of the women are of the General category while others belong to backward classes. Out of these, 83.33% are illiterate, 10% of them are primarily educated and around 6.66% of the women are high school passed. No woman was found to have a higher educational background. Most of them don’t even want to pursue their dreams anymore as they are very much comfortable in their miserable lives and are really used to it. They are tortured in many ways such as dowry, giving birth to a male child, not to say anything upfront, not to go out for work. Many women often get beaten up by their husbands, but the majority of them just stay quiet and do not utter a word because they are afraid that they might lose their respect and face ‘Badnaami’ (slander) if things go out. Such women believe themselves to be a ‘Bhartiya Naari’ (typical Indian Woman) and ‘Pati Vrata’ (loyal to her husband), thus she keeps her mouth shut in order to prevent her husband’s respect.
Despite a wife taking immense care of her husband, the husbands do not even pay attention to their wives. Many of them come home drunk and say bad words to her, beat her up just to show that he is a man and he can do whatever he wants. Though he is surely highly mistaken, he still continues to do so as the lady is not ready to raise her voice against such activities. Men find it masculine to beat their wives every day, but, actually, this act kills a woman from inside with each passing day. According to a National Family and Health Survey 2005, the lifetime prevalence of domestic violence was reported to be 33.5%. However, a survey carried out by the Thomas Reuters Foundation had ranked India as the most unsafe and dangerous country in the world for women. Also, in 2012, the National Crime Records Bureau released a report about India stating the rate of domestic violence/domestic cruelty by the lady’s husband or by his family as 5.9 per 1,00,000. But, these numbers are not enough. Some domestic violence cases and stories are unreported and unsaid. Some women even commit suicide as they are not strong enough to bear the torture, while some of them put themselves on the mute mode for the sake of their kids and the respect of both the families.
Ever heard of a village woman beating her husband up?
99% of us would say NO. We have not seen such cases in the villages. This is because a woman in India is equivalent to a DEVI (Goddess) and she has all the qualities also. She is a pure soul and for her, the husband is ‘Pati Parmeshwar’ (God) and she worships her in all aspects. For the violence issues, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005 was formed. This is a civil law that includes physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse as Domestic Violence. But, the majority of rural women are unaware of these laws and acts which make them even more helpless. Even if they know, they do not have the courage to file a report against their husband. All this happens due to a lack of education. The villagers very well know the importance of education for both girls and boys, but they are still reluctant to send their daughters to schools. Due to this, the roles assigned to them are different and the gender gap also increases. The girls are forced to do household chores and handle the kitchen. Parents are quite partial and treat their sons and daughters differently. They give more preference to their sons as they think that the boys/sons are the helping hands of the family. If a girl is uneducated, the whole after-generation goes uneducated as she is the one who holds the family after marriage and nurtures the kids.
Society needs to understand the value of a woman (a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, a mother, a grandmother). She holds our hand at every stage of life as she plays multiple roles. She needs to be loved and valued. We, as ladies need to realize our collective strength and take effective measures. Currently, the need for the hour is the skill development of rural women so as to make them, confident enough to be self-sufficient and independent. They should be self-reliant and develop an ability to be a part of decision making inside and outside their houses. Indeed, it may not be wrong to quote that the women of the villages are the most neglected as well as the disadvantaged section of the Indian society as they are socially and economically backward. Therefore, civil society and the government should take appropriate measures and enable the improvement of these vulnerable women and give them a better lifestyle.