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Indian women face several levels of violence: physical, mental, and emotional. Indian women, whether educated or not, are liable to be sexually harassed in the workplace or public places. They are victims at the hands of men. Even infants are not spared. Girls are not secure in their own homes: some are raped by their own fathers. Our society is responsible for such behavior. A girl child should be given more freedom and we need to be reminded that a girl child can work wonders just as much as a boy, if she is allowed to.
Female infanticide is a dangerous phenomenon happening in certain parts of India, like Salem in Tamil Nadu. This is alarming: the female to male ratio, already bad at some 950 women to 1000 men, is getting worse. There won’t be enough girls in the long run to maintain a healthy, balanced society.
From time immemorial, women have been considered the weaker sex, but they are only physically weak, not mentally. They have immense strength to face difficulties. Men often use the excuse of tension to justify smoking and drinking. When an Indian woman faces problems, she does not seek the help of tobacco or alcohol. She has the will power to overcome anything.
We also face a serious dowry problem. Young brides are burnt alive by in-laws for want of dowry. Here again the victim is a woman, who is stepping out from her home and entering another home for the rest of her life. In olden days, Kerala had a matrilineal system wherein men used to live in the wife’s home after marriage. I wonder how difficult it was for them to adjust to the new home and new people. So is the case of women: they should be cared for more in a new environment and treated with love; unfortunately this does not happen. She is treated well in the first few months of marriage, the rest of her life is miserable for various reasons. I call the initial months the marketing period, wherein everything is good. Unfortunately this doesn’t last.
For the slightest of reasons, women suffer the consequences of abandonment or divorce. This is due to the fact that men are dominant in Indian society. Women have no freedom or voice to express their feelings. They are considered mere puppets at the hands of men. Their life is decided by the elder male members at home. She is bound to obey them, whether she likes it or not.
Indian society needs to recognize the valuable contributions made by women in all their roles, and to reduce the levels of violence against them.
Bindu Raghavan is a software engineer and housewife in India.