The place of women in India - Seeker's Thoughts

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The place of women in India

The Land is having a rich heritage and the diversity remains the ‘key attraction’ of India. Women are not the 'aware' victim in today’s India, and even if it is so, they will not like to talk about it.

The ‘good women’ have to be trained, and once you achieve this tag by the family and relative- the life becomes easier and conflict-free. However, that peace stands on a dead pile of dreams and undiscovered potential.

Society has a tendency to see the women as a second-class citizen if not that direct, somewhere in the subconscious. People in India still consider a single woman as if she is not capable of ‘thinking’ and ‘handling’ her life as an adult.

For any decision she has to make, rarely it is hers. She either does it to please her father or any other family member or to please the husband. The day, she treats her that she is important- very few dear ones take that in a healthy manner.

Photo by Gesley from Pexels

Honor killing makes women victim of death, this death is moreover like a punishment – ‘to disobey’.

Mostly man jump into conclusion that woman is no longer the same, agreed, but facts and data show that women are not changing enough. 

Who is responsible?

Blaming men is no longer approved, as today men want them to be ahead but they also have a pair of parents which include both man and woman. They are misguided like every generation has been. 

The woman herself thinks that liberation will cause her dear ones to go away.
She thinks ‘controlling’ is a way of showing affection, while the truth remains nowhere near that. 

There are various surveys which appear from time to time and have found some interesting facts.

Human genders are ‘imposed’ with identities which elaborate the role – ‘the society wants them to be’. They accept that role to be accepted.

Stereotype encounters by girls where being good is associated with leaving a career and doing household chores. 

The Indian crowd still find women to be raised for marriage, as everything a girl does, at every step she is told, to be perfect and to please in-laws so that her marriage survives. 

Somehow marriage-centric society forced both men and women being into relationships which are forced. 

Patriarchal society is another reason where society considers that being a woman means incapable of living life alone. Women are given difficult choices when it comes to their careers. 

Women continue to face discrimination in the workplace, where men domination does not come out of the sexist ideologies. 

Some facts about only India woman

1-   Indian woman suffers through double burden syndrome

This special Double Burden Syndrome is for Indian women. According to the 2018 UNESCO Institute of Statistics report on women in science, 44% Bachelor students and 41 percent of doctoral students in India are female. The report says that Indian women face 'Double Burden Syndrome".
The Contribution of Rural Women

1.1 What is Double Burden Syndrome?

A cultural factor where both men and women feel the family and household duties are primarily the woman's responsibility

Therefore, women have to work efficiently in both places without the support of male members - that hamper their career and growth as an individual. 

A survey was done about women and the results were shocking. More women have been enrolling in Universities, yet 50% numbers of total studies should be women, has not been achieved.

Women don't participate at senior-most administrative and policy-making position in scientific institutions. 

Even fields like Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine, collectively called STEM remain a place away from the reach of women. While when school results are observed, girls are often outshone boys, but not in research. 

1.2 How does double burden syndrome harm India?

Brilliant minds are forced into marriages and responsibilities while they have more potential to serve the entire humanity and achieving different milestones. 

India needs more researchers, and the world also needs them. Women participation remains a cause of concern in various part of the globe, not only in India except in a few locations. 

When qualified minds drop out of the workforce, it results in considerable depletion of national resources in science and technology. 

     1.3 What does the Government do to increase women participation in science?

 Government has started various programs so that women participation increases and some of them are as follow- 

Vigyan Jyoti Scheme- It was announced in the 2017 budget for the Ministry of Science and Technology. The scheme aims to arrange for girl students of classes 9, 10 and 11 meet women scientists, with the IITs and the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research. · 

Inspire- MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge) It was to attract talented young boys and girls to study science and pursue research as a career. 

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan program - It was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2014. The aim was to connect India’s elite institutes with local communities and address their developmental challenges with appropriate technological interventions. 

Indo-US fellowship for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine to participate in international collaborative research in premier institutions in America was initiated as well.

Women-centric programmes under the Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN) initiative intended to help women.

Biotechnology Career Advancement and Reorientation (Bio-Care) scheme was also to help women. 

2. The mostly post-rape woman is blamed for rape or her dress or Victim Shaming

India is the most dangerous for sexual violence against women, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation 2018 survey.

India’s National Crime Record Bureau Reported 338,954 crimes against women – including 38,947 rapes – in 2016, the most recent government data available.

Sexual assault survivors face a cultural and social problem even in 2019. In India, most women don’t end up reporting sexual violence because they don’t get support from their families and friends, because they fear of social stigma and they don’t take stand for themselves because of the rape culture.

India is often blamed for rape culture.

2.1 What is rape culture?

Rape culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and sexual violence is normalized and excused in the media. 

Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that degrades women’s rights and safety.

People blame a victim as if women are responsible for being sexually harassed. Many of the women’s families don’t accept them or support them in any way, there is endemic violence ingrained in Indian culture. 

In traditional Indian culture, girls are groomed to be good wives, not to be an independent woman with her own careers. 

Traditional values say women are only important but they need to sacrifice their rights and ambitions because they produce children and preserve culture.

This mentality leads families to treat them as objects that should remain pure and be controlled: -women are their father’s property initially, and later their husbands are the owners.

 Parents worry so much about “losing face” in the community that while boys have all the freedom they want, girls are constantly advised not to do anything that “bring shame”.
Having sexual choice is a greater sin, girls are even restricted for pursuing their careers as well.
Menstruation Myths - Read Here

This mentality explains why so many forced into marriages, or even murdered by their own parents. 
It leads to mother excusing away the heinous crimes of their sons by saying: “If these girls roam around openly like this, then the boys will make mistakes.”

2.2 Protests and Campaigns fight against sexual harassment- The Dignity March

Thousands of women and children, who have faced some kind of violence in life, have walked 10,000 km across India covering 200 districts in 24 districts- to raise awareness about the commonness of rape.

The dignity march started in Mumbai in December and ended in Delhi on 22nd February. It drew thousands of sexual survivors from across the country.

The national network of survivors, the first ever pan-India network to mobilize and orient more than 25,000, survivors and their family member across 25 states and 250 districts of India were launched at Ramlila Maidan.

The objective of the march was to encourage children and women to speak out about their experience of sexual violence embarrassment and put an end to the extensive culture of victim-shaming.

3. Because they paid, it’s not rape

It is also unfortunate that while there is huge anger against rape, millions of victims, primarily children are trapped in commercial sexual exploitation and community-based prostitution. Society says this because they have paid money, it is not rape. But it is a case of serial rape and heinous crime.
The number of men who turned up to support the women was overwhelming.
Rape remains one of the most underreported crimes in the country with some estimates suggesting that as many as 95% of rape cases in India remain unreported.

The conviction rate in such crimes also remains low. The most recent official crime statistics, from 2016, indicate that less than 19% of crime against women secured a conviction – the lowest in the past decade.

4. Lesser participation of women in governance

The reason India has not been able to effectively address crimes against women is the lack of women participation in the political sector. Women in government can lead to more and between laws that safeguard women’s well-being.

India’s population is 48% female. But women hold just under 12% of seats in the national legislature.

That falls well the 30% “critical mass” that the United Nations Equal Opportunity Commission believes is necessary for women lawmakers to be influential in policymaking.

Local government in India actually have a quota system that ensures women hold one-third of seats in rural and city councils, but female representation in India’s far more powerful national government remain comparable to countries like the Republic of Congo and Mauritius, where women hold about 11% of legislative seats. 

Rwanda, where 61% of legislators are female, has the most women in government of any nation in the world, followed by Cuba, with 53%.

5. Family kills women to save their honor- Honour Killing

Honor killing, most often the murder of a woman or girl by any male member of the family, when she falls in love with the man of other religion, caste or community. The killer justifies actions by claiming that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family name or the prestige.
In a conservative society, girls and women have been suppressed for hundreds of years. They have been closely monitored and controlled in every aspect of life.

The maintenance of a woman’s dignity, virginity, and sexual purity are the responsibility of the male guardian of the family. The definition of 'good women' is often related to the woman who marries with anyone her family chooses and maintains her virginity in the social narrative.
Click on the Picture!

Victim of honor killings usually is alleged to have engaged in “sexually immoral” actions, ranging from openly interacting or having affair with men without marriage or against family even if the couple is married. (even if they are victims of rape or sexual assault).

However, a woman can be targeted for murder for a variety of other reasons, including refusing to enter an arranged marriage or seeking a divorce or separation- even from an abusive husband

Acts include female behaviors that are roaming around alone or with friends, choosing life partner of her choice and way of dressing, also including being homosexual.

As a result, according to the family that they lose all the respect in the community and among relatives. So, the only way the shame can be removed through killing. The culture in which honor killing takes place is usually considered “collective cultures”, where the family is more important than the individual.

The mere suspicion that a woman has acted in a manner that damage her family’s name may trigger an attack; these assumptions are generally based on men’s feelings and perceptions rather than on objective truth. Ironically, female relatives often defend the killings and occasionally help set them up.
Such crimes are widely suspected to be underreported the United Nations Population Fund estimates that as many as 5,000 women are killed annually for reasons of honor.

 These crimes take place throughout the world and are not limited to one specific religion or faith. However, they have rather significantly and consistently occurred in various parts of the Middle East and South Asia, with nearly half of all honor killings occurring in India and Pakistan.

5.1 History of honor killing

The origin of honor killings and the control of women is evident throughout history in the cultures and traditions of many regions. The Roman gave complete control to the men of the family over both their children and wives were at the discretion of the men in their families. Ancient Roman law also justified honor killings by stating that women who were found guilty of adultery could be killed by their husbands. During the Qing dynasty in China, fathers and husbands had the right to kill daughters who were deemed to have dishonored the family.

5.2 What are the causes of honor killing?
Honor killing is a result of strongly against views towards women and their rights. And the position of the women in society is not less than a slave in a male chauvinist society. In these traditional male-dominated societies women are dependent first on their father and then their husband, and they are expected to obey.

Women are viewed as property and not as individuals. If they refused to obey their male family member, they face extreme violence as punishment.

5.3 What are the laws in India to prevent honor killing?

The Indian constitution has various sections in Indian Penal Code to protect the victim and punish the murderer and some of them are given below--

Section 299-304: penalizes any person guilty of murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The punishment for murder is a life sentence or death and fine. The punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder is life imprisonment or imprisonment for up to 10 years fine

Section 307 – penalize attempt to commit culpable homicide by imprisonment for up to 3 years or with fine or with both. If it causes hurt, the Peron shall be imprisoned for up to 7 years or fined or both.

Section 308 penalizes attempt to commit culpable homicide by imprisonment for up to 3 years or with fine or with both. It causes hurt, the person shall be imprisoned for up to 7 years or fined or both.

Section 120A and B – penalizes any person who is a party to a criminal conspiracy.
Section 107-116 – penalize persons for abetment of offenses including murder and culpable and homicide.

Section 34 and 35 penalizes criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.

Section 300 introduce “fifthly” cause to section 300 of IPC which at present defines “murder” under four categories. The additional definition would make khap-dictated honor killings a distinct offense and make all those who participate in the decision liable to be tried for the main charge, that is murder, and liable maximum penalty, death.

6. The Marital Rape happens and there is no law against it

Marital rape is a type of rape committed by the sexual partner in marriage. When it comes to rape the entire attention goes towards women, and men are ignored. However, no doubt the majority of victims are women.  

6.1 It is not a Myth – The Society needs to learn the Truth

Marital rape is one of the darkest hidden real stories in India. Women face marital rape and brutal physical abuse, and in worse cases, they get even murdered by their spouse due to sexual conflicts.

Every year different married men have been accused of marital rape, however, only fewer women are that courageous to complain in the Indian society. There have been incidents where the wife accused the husband of forced- sex, but the incident turned in favor of the husband, as relatives and gathering of elders decide ‘the fate’ of a married couple.

Marital has rape has become an unquestionable reality in India- which needs to be addressed. The majority believe that marriages are for sexual fulfillment, and the basic duty of a woman is to be sexually available for the husband.

However, believing in such concepts does not make it true. To know the truth, a problem should be understood on the parameters of facts. So, the truth which we ignore and are scared to say is that the women are treated as a 'commodity' in the social structure.

7.  The Unpaid Labour – Household Chores

Indian women work hard in home, but regret is that it does not worth.
In India, the unpaid work done by women looking after their homes and children is worth 3.1% of the country’s GDP. Women spend 312 minutes per day in urban areas and 291 minutes per day in rural areas on such unpaid care work, it added. In comparison, men spend only 29 minutes in urban and 32 minutes in rural areas on unpaid care work.
According to Oxfam India, the paid work women do bring them fewer earnings as compared to men due to the existing wage gap and therefore households that rely primarily on female earners tend to be poorer, it said, referring to the country’s gender pay gap at 34%.
It observed that various intersections of caste, class, religion, age and sexual orientation have further implications on women inequality as a process.

A way ahead

 India will have the world's youngest population by 2022 and the women of the country will play a definitive role in devising the country’s future.

 Awareness about gender inequality and its outcome has to be increased. The community should be supportive and understanding of career prospects for women as this needs a drastic social change. 

For having a better economy, women need to be supported to come forward, and these practices which are ‘n’ in numbers and hampering the growth of Indian women or any other woman worldwide should end.

Women are equal citizens and have their constitutional rights, and they need to recognize their potential. Desiring to have a career over family does not make a woman bad.

She is far more capable socially, more worthy as culture has always underestimated her- all she needs to be aware and grab the chance and opportunities. 

- Namrata

The writer can be followed on twitter, 

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