Women in India are under privileged. Whether we like it or not and no matter what facts and figures may quote , the fact remains that the fruits of development have not reached them in the measure that it should have. They constitute nearly one half of the population of the country and therefore, no real development can take place without their involvement and participation.
Ever since the dawn of civilization, man has showed his dominance over them, by the sheer magnitude of physical capabilities. This was the reason of such inhibitive customs, like the pardah system, sati practice, etc which are a sheer manifestation of his hold over women. Women are usually the victims of torture in the society ruled by poverty. Most of them are illiterate and have abusive and addicted spouses, causing them to live under domestic violence. Often the children are left to the mercy of these helpless women, who then have to find some means to look after their children. This is in turn results in either children seeing begging on the streets or they indulge themselves in unhealthy practices of robbery and petty crimes. The other common and the most easiest way such women find out is killing her children and herself , having lost all hopes of a better, secured comfortable life.
Women are time and again the victims of dowry system. This is one evil system practiced in every section of the Indian society very religiously and without any discrimination. Almost every day we hear about the death of a woman as she is punished by her husband and sometimes jointly by him and the mother-in-law. Kerosene is poured on her and she is burnt alive only because goddess Lakshmi was not kind enough to fill the woman’s father’s house with sacks of money and gold. Similarly, prostitution, burning the bride, women exploitation, selling and marketing of women is all results of women being under privileged in India.
The stories of underprivileged women and various experiences prove their living in environments lacking adequate water supply and sanitation facilities. Women in remote villages continually fall prey to various water borne diseases. All this because of lack of safety and dignity in defecating in the open. Even during pregnancy, lack of proper health care facilities and medicines leads to various problems.
It is a shameful thing that the man who removes all his frustration by beating up her mercilessly and forcing her to stay in the worst of conditions , it is she who played a crucial role in his life, as a mother , wife and daughter but when it came to equal rights she virtually had none.
It is indeed a matter of concern that even after more than sixty years of independence, they continue to live an under privileged existence, more like second-class citizen. We may have done away with Sati and Pardah System, but evils like dowry and female infanticide continue to thrive in our society, in this age of enlightenment. This is why a girl child is looked upon as a burden for her parents and her birth is seldom rejoiced. The discrimination starts from birth and continues right through her lives in terms of nutrition, education and upbringing.
The present social customs and practices also discriminate against her. Thus after marriage, she has to adopt the surname of her spouse, and move in with him. What little she had of her identity, is also lost after marriage. The male hegemony is more evident in Muslims, who are legally permitted to have four wives and have the liberty to divorce their wives, by mere uttering of the word “Talaq” thrice.
This discrimination does not auger well for the growth and development of the country. Immediate steps are called for ameliorating their lot, by providing them free education. Education will help each woman to know what her rights her and give her the confidence to stand up for herself and her children. She will then be able to voice her vows and stop injustice meted out with her. Ensuring their economic independence can be done by reservation of jobs for them. Government must start small-scale and cottage industries to employ more women and ensure financial security. Half of her problems will resolve when she is earns as this will cut her dependence on her husband for money. Also, the Women’s Reservation Bill in the parliament is a step in the right direction and would help women to have a say in affairs that concern them and the country.
The various organizations and trusts working for the empowerment of such women are also note-worthy. These noble ideas must be encouraged by the other section of the population that are literate, responsible and must help in creating awareness among the underprivileged and down-trodden sections of the society.
If this intense problem of women exploitation and undue discrimination is not addressed at the earliest, it is sure that not only the individual but the country will also suffer. Therefore , care has to be taken before we perish.