The Burden of Being a Woman in India

In December 2012, the horrific rape of a 23-year-old paramedical student brought into limelight the insecure lives Indian women lead. Six men in a bus brutally raped her. Her friend who had gone with her to see a movie, tried to stop them but he was beaten by an iron rod. A 17 year old who raped her, inserted a rod inside her and took out her intestines. After the rape, the culprits threw the couple out on the road, naked! No one helped them for two hours. The girl after battling for her life for two weeks, died in a Singapore hospital. She became another woman whose dreams, hopes and life was crushed by the hands of men.

In India, a girl is at risk from the day she is conceived. If she is not aborted, she is considered a liability from her birth. She has to be subservient to all to survive. Her aspirations are sacrificed on the altar of her brother’s rights and privileges. When she gets married, her parents pay a dowry to the groom to keep her. She does not get any rights in her husband’s home also. She can be raped by her husband and she has no legal recourse, as she is duty bound to have sex with her husband. She has to lose her identity to ensure her husband’s success. An Indian women cannot demand equal rights from her father, brother, husband or son. In India, the saying holds true – behind every successful man, there is a woman. But behind every failed woman, there are men.

An Indian man from his cradle is taught that being beastly to women is a sign of masculinity and superiority. The abusive relationships he witnesses between his father and mother, hardwires him for life to treat women as objects and slaves. A teenage boy learns to sexually harass women publicly. Boys start rudely commenting on young girls and women walking on the street. It is called “eve teasing”, supposedly a sign of growing up of a boy. The young girls learn that they can be insulted and humiliated publicly by any random male and no one is going to come to their help. There is no protection available, and she just has to tolerate it.

The apathy in the society is such that no one will come to help a woman even if she is publicly asking for it. The worst part is that other men and women will join them in tormenting the women being abused. You see, the woman asked for it and deserves it. That is how bad the psychology of Indian society is. If a woman manages to break the chains and stands on her own two feet, men and women both will aggressively attack her at a social and psychological level. The women, who are dependent on men to win brownie points from them, will support them and make the woman’s life more miserable.A woman who is being abused by men will be isolated by women and made to suffer more. Women do the dirty work of men, against women. That is the tragedy. India is the fourth unsafe country for women in the world.

A woman has to accept physical, emotional and psychological torture without any hope that it will end. She is at the mercy of men. If rich men are involved, then she does not even have legal resource, as they will bribe the law enforcement staff. On the other hand, the society will support the rich men to get favors from them.

The same situation continues in offices. The sexual harassment faced by women in India is the highest in the world. However, the sexual harassment act is in draft stages for over a decade. No woman has won a sexual harassment case against a powerful man in India. In most cases, when a woman has managed to lodge a legal complain she has been proved to be mentally unsound and/or politically motivated. The sad part is fathers of daughters protect other men than the sexually harassed women to remain part of the men’s club. Then they expect that the other men will not harass their daughters in offices. A twisted thinking that highlights what the daughters were subjected to at home. Moreover, men to show their superiority will mob an aggressive and independent woman in Indian offices. Seniors will either encourage it or turn a blind eye. Very few organizations ensure protection from sexual harassment by seniors.

Closing thoughts

Being beastly and brutal towards women signifies masculine power and superiority in Indian society. Female physical and economic weakness makes her a target for social exploitation. Without women gaining social and financial equality, the plight of women will not cease. They will continue to endure the atrocities meted out to them silently, scared to voice their anger and fight for their rights. In India, the bias is so strong that when a woman fights for her rights, she is called Phollan Devi, and when a man fights for his, he is walking the steps of Mahatma Gandhi. With these judgments, society wishes to silence women forever. Men wish to continue the tyranny of past centuries in the 21st century to safeguard the male order.  That is the real tragedy.

I dedicate this post to the gang-raped girl Jyoti. May the candle lit from her pyre light the life of women in India.

candle light