In the beginning is the wish: Just a little wish that begins in a seemingly harmless way and ends up ruining an entire life.
“I wish I have a boy!”
Why? So the discrimination happens even before the child is born. Even before conception. That wish hangs around in the air, around the house, around the family and begins to create grounds for male chauvinism to bloom in a natural manner.
Crores of Indian men wish for a son instead of a daughter.
The next travesty is that murders start taking place inside the womb itself.
In India it is banned to know the sex of the child. In India abortion is banned.
But since the desire for a son is so strong, that law remains only on paper.
One small female is killed inside another bigger female: One dies and the other suffers.
And the male couldn’t care one little bit.
Even when the girl child is born, there’s always female infanticide, which actually should be called “Murder of a baby girl in cold blood”.
Some reports put this number in the millions. These are millions of murders that are never ever reported, charge sheeted or punished.
There are millions of male criminals who have forcefully made millions of females their accomplices.
For those who make it into this world unscathed, there’s discrimination at each and every stage.
The 5 Ws and H for the growing girl child…
This is Who you are.
This is What you are supposed to do.
This is Where you should never go.
This is When you should just shut up.
This is Why you are inferior to a boy.
This is How you are supposed to behave at all times.
Women are seen suffering all around and that is sub-consciously internalized.
Nothing changes when the girl grows up. There is discrimination in the society, in the work place and on the streets.
The attitudes are also patriarchal.
If the streets are unsafe for women at night, instead of demanding for greater security, more police patrols, more 24 hour transport and services and more action against offenders, the demand is always for more women to stay at home, for them to wear more traditional clothes, to wear less make-up and not to go to pubs and discos!
Only a brutally chauvinistic society could say a thing like: She asked for it!
Then there’s the whole issue of “eve teasing”. Which moron came out with such a harmless sounding term? It should actually be called “sexual harassment” plain and straight. Bollywood promotes it, the police ignore it and the Indian male freely participates in it knowing that he will get away in 99.9% of the cases.
Then take the issue of rape itself. It is not just rape. The victim is assaulted. She is humiliated. Her modesty is outraged. She is almost killed. Even without actual rape that itself should get the attacker 20 years in prison. Add rape to that and you understand why so many people are demanding capital punishment for rapists.
But that’s when the ordeal begins. The police couldn’t care less and may harass the victim further in their own way. There’s further harassment through the long judicial process. The rival lawyer may know that his client is guilty. He may know that the girl is innocent. And yet he won’t hold back from launching such a brutal cross-examination, that it may break the will of the victim forever.
The society is no better and may look the other way at the rapist while treating the rape survivor as if she is some sort of criminal.
Rape survivors in India usually face three rapes.
Actual rape by the rapist. Virtual rape by the State. Virtual rape by the society.
That’s the most brutal reality of the Indian system.
Despite getting Independence in 1947, having a woman Prime Minister in 1966 and liberalizing (economically, that is) in 1991, we largely remain a patriarchal and chauvinistic society.
The US is a superpower in many ways, as some surveys show.
For one at fertility clinics, the demand for girls is far higher than that of boys.
Secondly, more than half the women in that country choose not to marry, preferring to be independent and single!
More From this Author:
A note to the dented and painted Indian woman
Theek Nahi Hai!: Open letter to Manmohan Singh
Long live the Indian Revolution!
8 things that Modi has triumphed against...
Gujarat was lost in the Rajiv years
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/