First things first. The very fact that we dedicate a specific day to voice on behalf of women makes me put my head down in shame. Before you conclude on that statement, let me explain. So much of injustice has happened to women, and continue to happen, and thus it has become important to voice out, and that’s a shame. And hopefully, it won’t continue. May the next year be without a women’s day, because we started treating women as our integral part.
Dreams aside, its a serious problem. This happened in a ceremony in one of my relatives’ place. We were some 20 people sitting and talking. I told about my daughter, what she does, and how she is doing. And another relative explained what his daughter is doing. We both have no male children. One more relative suddenly raised his voice and said ‘Aamaamaa, pottai pasanga apdidhaan irukum’ (which means in Tamil language – “Yes Yes, girls (in a derogatory way) will be like that”. The point is he has two grown-up sons. He thinks that having male children adds to his status and prestige. May be because, he thinks only male children can go to jobs, earn, and support him during his old age. So, you see, the problem is deep-rooted, and attitude based.
This is not just in India. There are horror stories from all over the world. In Africa, in many countries, NGOs are working to make women aware of contraceptive methods. The landlords are using the women who come for work for sex, and these women get pregnant at the age of 14 or 15. They couldn’t stop the menace of women being used for sex, so they thought at least they could educate the women about contraceptives so that the pregnancy does not happen.
There are a couple of things that we could personally, at our homes, offices, and the society to change this.
1) Respect. Treat women with respect. There lies the secret to all the other good things – education, job, health and well-being. If you treat a woman with respect as thyself, will you demean her in any way?
2) Self-defense: This is the need of the day, and should be done. All women should learn self-defense techniques till our attitudes change completely for good. It could be eastern or western martial arts. No advocacy is going to help you when that auto-driver or a co-passenger is misbehaving with you. You have to protect yourself. So, take your safety in your own hands. There are self-defense workshops being conducted for free in various cities, so take heart to attend them.
So, is this like Happy Pongal, Happy Diwali, Happy Christmas, or Happy Buddha Poornima? No. We have lot of work to do on the ground in our homes, workplaces, and society.
I am not an expert in woman rights nor I have the statistics to talk about it further. But whatever I said above comes from my heart and experience.