Updated 8:04 am, Apr 28, 2021

State of woman in the twenty first century | Dr. Harshinder Kaur Patiala | SNE

By  SNE Guest Columnist Dr. Harshinder Kaur Patiala .
Apr 26, 2017

I am putting down my views here for the reason that every individual has the right to express oneself, so long the opinion brings no discord in society or suppresses the rights of anyone. It is a different matter, however, that someone’s thinking is so social reformatory that other people get in close with the opinion, and the approach becomes capable of bringing about a change at bigger level.

Though a lot has been written about the status of women in the present times and a lot has been documented in history, yet there is need of working about it whole-heartedly.

As I have already said about people having individual thinking, some women, in search of full freedom for themselves , express their absolute freedom by dominating or tyrannizing men, by showcasing their bodies by wearing scanty clothes and quite a few of them, misusing the legal rights, involve their in-laws in false litigation under cover of anti-dowry laws., On the other hand, majority of women breathe their last with little awareness about their freedom and silently bear the atrocities inflicted on them by the male partners.

My reckoning is that the concept of providing equal rights to woman amounts to considering her as a human being first and equipping her with all the rights that a man longs for. Verily, the concept of equal rights can be justified in the true sense when both the partners have the freedom to pursue their individual activities and support each other to realize their individual dreams.

If we talk of making progress, we have almost reached the pinnacle of scientific progress and man is claiming to approach God since, by creating a test tube baby, he has gained control over the process of the birth, no doubt, but now, being engrossed in winning over the demon of death, man has forgotten that nothing is everlasting to live in this universe.

So far as the case of woman progress is to be talked about, majority of women consider it not having taken the first step even and, along with scientific progress, large scale quantum of atrocities meted out to women is coming forth. Rather than refuting the point, let us, at first, look at following facts:

There are historical evidences that in the 19th century 400 women, because of the prevalence of Sati custom, were thrown into the burning pyre on the death of a single man. In the present day also, womenfolk are subjected to myriad tortures as being roasted alive in an oven, burnt alive in the kitchen by pouring kerosene over her or ‘accidental’ bursting of stove or a gas cylinder.

In the year 1817, more than 700 widows in Bengal were burnt alive, following the custom of sati.

In the present day, statistics reveal that the number of women burnt for dowry has reached 5000 in a year, and the National Crime Report tells that every 77 minutes a woman is harassed for the sake of dowry.

Historians have mentioned that child widows were kept as dev dasis in ancient temples of India and were forced to appease the sex desire of priests and compelled to live a life of hell.
In the present days, bands of criminals are involved in kidnapping minor girls and supplying them to middle aged patrons in India and abroad, or pushing them into flesh trade.

Going a step ahead, now even the parents have been found to indulge in selling away the daughter so as to make both ends meet. Such cases come to public notice only when they are reported to the Human Rights Commission.

Historians have documented that around eighty to ninety years ago fathers, on account of dearth of girls, would themselves go to auction off their daughters or get the job done through agents where about 400 men would bid for a girl. During those times, a woman used to be shared among three or four brothers.

In present times, the vogue of buying daughters-in-law can be seen in villages where many young boys are left bachelors because of shortage of girls. Some reports of sharing one woman between two brothers have also come to notice, with an aim to prevent division of property.

With progress of time, our shallow thinking has taken an ugly turn and often we have to read such embarrassing news of fathers sexually exploiting their own daughters and there have been instances wherein the daughter has borne her own father’s child. Anyone interested to find truth of the fact can visit Nari Niketan of Chandigarh and check the records.

So far as eulogizing the womenfolk is concerned, we have devised special blessings for the purpose. It is customary to bless a married female in Punjab to have a long married life, but when males are to utter expletives, they defile the woman species only; its attribute is either to the mother or the sister.

An unbearable heart-piercing hurt is felt on hearing the attributes used for female beings in the Indian society since ages. Such words are: witch, sinner, dev dasi, sorcerer, pretender, and the left over, serpentine, widow, wolf-like, beastly, and hell-bound, shallow witted or the divided half. Why don’t the ones using these vulgar slangs ever think that they too have become the same after taking birth from a pretender’s womb with the same genes and having sucked her milk?

Whereas in the past, men visited the houses of lust in order to appease their carnal desire, any innocent girl can now be belittled and labeled as a prostitute by making obscene video of her using the morphing and other techniques.

Countless women are suffering mentally and physically also as due to domestic violence. Statistics of the National Crime Bureau reveal that one woman undergoes some or the other domestic outrage every nine minutes.

In the past, women were treated as nothing more than a man’s footwear, whose only purpose was to bear his children and give him bodily comfort and pleasure. Even now when a woman is adorning the President of India’s chair, there is no improvement in the status of women at the ground level. Women agitating for their rights are dragged by their legs by the police or are brutally beaten up the administration, and many helpless women striving for their legitimate rights are shooed to the doors of death. What use is all this scientific progress if there is no objective improvement in the status of women?

Whether in social functions, in marriages and in hotels ,one can hear the cacophony of indecent songs eulogizing the physical attributes of a women’s body in the most indecent and vile language. One can watch bearded old men shamelessly dancing on such songs not caring a bit for their age or social status. In such an indecent show of shamelessness, never has there been a protest by an honorable gentleman who would not wish to see his mother or sister defiled by such coarse and lewd songs.

Millions of curses are on such spineless men who are paying back the debt of their mother’s milk by denigrating her cohorts.

What more we shall say about this abysmal degradation where minor girls are becoming prey to the lust of their cousins and other relatives in their own homes .Instances of incest are becoming commoner but are often swept under the carpet in the name of protecting the family name.

The news of gang rape of nine months old little one has exposed the futility of measures taken for betterment of female fraternity.

The sorry state of affairs is such that I sometimes receive phone calls from men who justify such instances by giving vile and indecent explanations such as the victim was wearing skimpy clothes and the men ogling at her could not control their lust. I fail to understand the mental makeup of such individuals of the male class.
Disfiguring of women’s faces by throwing acid on them is becoming a daily occurrence. Media has often highlighted such cases where women are assaulted with sticks, are caned mercilessly and in one instance a women was buried to the neck in sand on the plea that her head was uncovered and she had cast a blot on the family’s honor. Noses and ears of women have been cut off of women who refused to satisfy the carnal desires of men. Genital mutilation has become a norm in many societies and is prevalent even in the developed world.

Has there been any tangible improvement in the psyche of men when it comes to the rights of women? Has any real change happened that we should talk about bettering the women’s status in the 21st century?
A miniscule number of women are visible who have been able to break the glass ceiling and attained positions of excellence and primacy in the fields of administration, education and the armed services. Women have soared in space, touched the acme heights of science and sacrificed their lives in the line of duty but for the majority of women life are nothing more than a severe punishment.

Even in the present day scenario, an apparent discrimination in nurturing of the son compared to the daughter is quite apparent in most of the homes. Being a pediatrician, I have often faced such situations where in the daughter is deprived of food supplements like Bournvita which are preferentially given to her brother. A daughter is taught to cry silently and not to laugh openly. Girls are often sacrificed in the name of protecting the honor of the family. Such instances are well known in the public domain.

Asking for privileges by a female appears futile when restrictions are laid upon her to give birth to a daughter. Such unwanted daughters are often tortured mercilessly and discarded on garbage dumps to be devoured by stray dogs. Such inhuman practices in the present day scenario are unthinkable and a blot on the human civilization.
Bibi Ajit Kaur, the Punjabi muse, after bearing the pangs of torture on her own body screams – Her first fault is being born a woman; the second is being a single woman; the third is being single and earning her own livelihood with respect and dignity and the extreme fault is being intelligent, virtuous and self respecting. These traits make a single woman sinful in this land of gods – Hindustan! What a devious sin it is!

Observing the height of this tyranny, if still a few ones have the heart to negate these facts, then they are those who have become quite recalcitrant against finding a solution for it, or no solution is there in their reach. Actually, by negating these realities, they have become a part of those exploiting the women folk, for they are holding these crimes as legitimate.

For them, I would like to say this:
When only one female shall be left per one hundred males,
Males will be made to sit in harems.
Males will be set ablaze for dowry.
Parents, till today, have been selling their sons for dowry,
Bids are made at par with positions.
The female will now come on the mare in marriage procession,
The male will be escorted in the palanquin.
Standing in the dock some Jhansi ki Rani,
Will thrash the men of this tribe.
Some Mai Bhago will ask what kind you are, O boy!
How will you feel when you are burnt alive for dowry ?
How will you feel when your parents weep and wail on your birth?
How will you feel when your parents kill you after you are born?
How will you feel when your father will entreat at the girl’s door?
How will you feel when your house is mortgaged for dowry sake?
How will you feel when you are disrobed in full assembly?
How will you feel when like a juggler’s monkey
You are made to dance and gambol about?

Woman has have been treated like a piece of decoration placed on the shelf, a thing of miniscule value which can be replaced at her master’s whim; just a figure of stone which has no feelings, that feels no pain, has no emotions nor aspirations for the future, and has no bright dreams of her own.

However, just as a sleek silver lining appears at the edges of a dark cloud, there is some hope and light is peeping out from the shadows.

The female form is worshipped in temples and Gurdwaras. Men prostrate in front of Maa Lakshami , the goddess for wealth so that she may cast her benevolent eye upon them.. History is a witness to the monument of love- the Taj Mahal that was built in the memory of a woman.

In the present times, there are many parents who take pride in their daughters and many who have voluntarily foreclosed the opportunity of having a second child after the birth of a daughter.

Many male partners undertake fast for the long life of their wives on the occasion of karva chauth; they reinforce their love for their partner by fasting along with her.

All kudos to the fathers who have adopted someone else’s discarded daughter and have taken full responsibility of nurturing and bringing her up.

Girls also have staked their full might to uplift the image of her ilk, they have been successful in creating role models by excelling in various fields. Even in the field of business, they have put in shade many of their male compatriots. They have brought laurels to the country in the field of sports.

My salute to such high achievers!

A bowing prostration unto the parents and specially the fathers who act as torch bearers for their daughters!
A silent cry rises in my heart when I come across some females who are hell bent to besmirch the reputation of their parents and their families by their vile deeds. They are a blot on female fraternity. If they also turn around, the path to emancipation of females can become smooth and a strong voice against tyrannous deeds being committed upon women can be raised collectively.

My humble prayer at last is this only that man and woman may live in unison without undermining each other. If they lead their lives supporting each other, the family shall become a verdant dense tree of love and would to bear easily the torrential storms or hurricanes of life.

I have said this all with an open mind and without rancour, so that concrete measures to improve the status of women can be carried out with honesty and diligence.

ਗਲੀ ਅਸੀ ਚੰਗੀਆ ਆਚਾਰੀ ਬੁਰੀਆ ।।
ਮਨਹੁ ਕੁਸੁਧਾ ਕਾਲੀਆ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਚਿਟਵੀਆਹ ।।
(SGGS ang 85)

In words, we are good, but in deeds bad. Within mind we are impure and black, but white from without.
As is said of a flower:
Plucked, threaded, mauled and flung away though,
Never has any flower’s heart become stone.
So is the heart of a woman, howsoever she may be trampled upon, a mother’s heart always beats for her son.

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