Men are trained to be soldiers. Women are born as soldiers. Why so? Because, for a woman, the fight for survival starts from the moment she draws her first breath. If she’s unlucky enough, she won’t even complete one day on this earth with her father, uncles and brothers clamoring to kill her. And if she survives against these odds, a tale of sacrifice will ensue for her.
In India, women are trained to be epitome of decorum. When they are simply school-going giggling girls, they are expected to play with dolls silently in one corner of the home and start learning how to cook. As they grow up, they are told by their parents, uncles and brothers what to wear, whom to talk to, what to study (if they are allowed to) and to whom to marry. Once they are married off, their husbands, mother-in-laws, father-in-laws, brother-in-laws and all the in-laws in between will have an opinion about the daughter-in-laws should be doing and how she is wrong.
Every Indian woman, whether married or unmarried, has this fate. Some injustices are blatant wherein women are confined to their houses with zero or limited freedom. While in some cases, abuses are subtle wherein educated women are made to work both at home and at office. They are supposed to get up at ungodly hours, do all the household chores, report at work on time, put in 10-12 hours at work, come back home and cook dinner, clean after everybody has gone to bed and then the next day the cycle starts again. This latter form of abuse is quite new, and women still have to wake up to realize it.
As I am a working woman, I meet many married working women; and let me tell you, I am always in awe of them. Once I asked one such female that how did she manage home and work so beautifully. Did her husband help her out? Or did she have a legion of house helps? She just gave a sarcastic smile and said that she is forced to be a superwoman. She didn’t want to be the one but her in-laws are forcing her to work. Her in-laws wanted her to work so that she can give them her salary. They didn’t even want to employ a cook or a servant because they didn’t have money to blow away. When I asked shouldn’t her husband help her in household chores then if that was the case, she told me that I was living in a dreamland where everything was rosy. Her theory was very simple: an Indian man is raised by her mother, another woman, to be a man, which means that he can’t cook or clean. All the household chores should be done by a woman because it’s her birth right and civic duty to do so. It doesn’t matter whether she is going out and earning the bread for the family along with her husband. It doesn’t matter that she’s contributing into family savings.
What matters is how much she has cleaned and what she has cooked!
So my questions are: have women really progressed? Hasn’t the society just found new creative ways to abuse women? Do we really need rules to stop this nonsense going around us? Can’t we on individual level curb this discrimination?
Let’s take a vow today: to treat each and every woman the way we like to be treated. If you are a man, help around the house; your mother, sister, wife and daughter are tired of cooking and cleaning. They need a break. If you are a woman, encourage and support the females in your household to follow their dreams. Make other family members toe the line.
The day we start being fair to the female sex at the micro level, the change is not far to come on the macro level. Every man will respect women. Instead of being raped and humiliated, women will be loved, cherished and cared for. They will be able to live their own dreams rather than the ones imposed on them. It will then be a wonderful country to live in, won’t it?