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Women Empowerment: a sexual hypocrisy

I apprehend if I have the expertise to discuss the issues mostly fit for the feminist, yet it is an attempt to summarize my experiences and contribute to the existing views. Women Empowerment as the term per se, has been hammering the Indian minds from the days of our struggle for freedom. Not to rule out that there have been initiatives during all stages of Indian History to establish the deserving position of women in the society, but changes gained velocity during (and after) the war of independence from the British. The movement is mostly remembered for the likes of Sarojini Naidu, Gandhi and Raja Ram Mohan Roy. That is the history...

Besides the History, the Culture makes India one of the few countries where a woman is worshiped in various forms and st-ages. When this part of the world was celebrating Christmas 2010, I was watching a program on DD Punjabi where Dr. Tandon(if I read the script correct), a lady of repute was talking about the current issues related to women such as dowry, female infanticide, foeticide, sex ratio, female illiteracy and so on. I quickly recalled a great movie Matrubhoomi which left fresh memories in my mind. The movie shows the future of several districts of India if the History and the Culture does not improve.

Similarly, Dr. Tandon acknowledged that the problem is severe in Punjab and Haryana - the so called developed states of India. The trends of female foeticide and infanticide is catching pace in Tamil Nadu - again a so called developed state. It's no surprise that a siting MLA from Bihar succumbs to domestic violence. Now, what is the direction of the movement of Women Empowerment? Do people kill the girl child primarily because of dowry or poverty or illiteracy? - this was advocated by Dr. Tandon and several others. Albeit, the position of women is no better even in the societies of reverse dowry (some tribal pockets of Rajasthan and Orissa) and relatively not-so-poor and literate communities (Tamil Nadu). People have innovative mechanisms to kill a girl child. Some girls die in womb, others die soon after birth and those who survive may die due to malnutrition. Besides, a high current MMR of 407 means over 0.13 mn dying mothers every year at the time of delivery - one mother every five minutes.

An insightful symbol of women
Unfortunately, the section of the society which calls itself to be feminist and who will always jump into the discussions over Women Empowerment, are whirl pooled in so many discussions that they hardly have time to do much work on the ground. The real problems lie under the blanket. Today, for most of such 'activists' the only aim is 33 percent reservation in all horizons as possible. I doubt if that is the only thing they need to focus. Is 33 percent reservation or representation the only indicator of Women Empowerment? One of my female colleague said that it is the domestic violence against men that is the true indicator for women empowerment.

A research conducted in Turkey and published in IJSW by TISS highlights that domestic violence against women is reduced in case of educated as well as employed women and educated but unemployed men. However, the realities are not so promising in India. The problems of aneamia, low birth weight, malnutrition, IMR, MMR, rape and domestic violence are not only in India, but the issues of child marriage, sex-selective foeticide, dowry and 'honor killing' are probably exclusive to the glory of our nation. When GE started aggressively distributing its ultrasound equipments, they had a hard time realizing its impact on sex-selective foeticide in lieu of their CSR. Finally, even GE being an outsider, understood it and checked the distribution of its machines. As a mistake, our feminist leaders spend little time to think and work on aneamia, malnutrition and female illiteracy.

Thus, girls are killed for all reasons but they are not killed for money, not for honor and not for pleasure. They are killed because they are weak. When I asked a villager in Madurai about women empowerment, he innocently said that it is a mix of the woman's education and ability to earn. Strength is derived from knowledge, income, health and authority. It is time that we think in these specific terms. These are the factors determining the strength of a woman and thus are the relevant indicators of Women Empowerment. Let us not measure it in terms of 'violence against men' and percent reservation rather work to improve the knowledge, income and health of the women around us. Those who are looking for a marriage - Say no to dowry, say yes to a girl child.


{ आलोकिता } at: December 26, 2010 said...

Nice,Very thoughtfully penned

{ kunjmann } at: December 26, 2010 said...

@आलोकिता Alokita, I am still exploring for more thoughts on this issue. I find it is one of the most complex issues for Indian society which is unfortunately backed by a 5000 years' old civilization.

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