Indian Women: Inside Hidden Lies

March 17, 2011
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There was once a young girl. She had just turned fifteen three months ago, and her family married her off to a man she had met for the first time on her wedding day. He was nine years her elder. The girl had silky light skin, long black hair, almond shaped eyes, and a toned body. In short, she was beautiful. Her husband possessed a dark skin tone, a short and stout built, a long, crooked nose, and chipped, yellow teeth. Unfortunately, the girl got pregnant one month within getting married. Nine months later, the girl gave birth to a baby girl. Fury consumed the husband and his family. They abused the mother both mentally and physically for giving birth to a girl instead of a boy. They even threatened to take her life. In the end, the unfortunate mother faced the ultimate challenge- one that required killing her beloved child.

For many centuries, Indian woman have been both suppressed and treated as inferior to males. They are a considered a burden upon their parents. When married, they are considered “baby boy makers” by their husbands and their families. Most of the time, women just obey everything others ask them to do. Sometimes, this even includes killing their own children. Just because the mother delivers a baby girl is born instead of a bay boy, the husband and his family abuse the mother. Some women get an amniocenteses test in order to check the gender of the child prior to birth. Families force mothers to abort their children if the test results reveal that the fetus is a female. The husbands and their families feel that it is not fitting for children, especially the eldest children, of a household to be a female. Although Indian women suffer greatly both psychologically and physically, most keep their spirits high and do not let either their husbands or their families suspect any sort of hardships that they have to endure. Basically, many difficulties are thrust upon Indian women throughout their lives, and they do nothing to change it.

Marriage comes to Indian women at an early age. According to the Manusmriti, also known as the Laws of Manu, the family of a young girl can marry her off to a man much older than her (Tripurarai). One of the Indian gods, named Brahma, gave his views on Hindu guidelines. The recorded views are known as the Laws of Manu, and they date back to medieval times; they are followed by most Hindus because they want to avoid bad karma (Aiken). A great majority of marriages occur without the bride and groom meeting prior to the day of the wedding. Parents do this in order to avoid dissent from children, which might cause a marriage to break up. If a marriage is broken up, it will cause shame for the family. Also, parents threaten their daughters that they will be beaten killed, or sold to sex traffickers if they do not obey their parents’ wishes (Hunter).

Fig. 3: Chart showing how majority of marriages are conducted. Source: Most.

Renuka Chowdhury, the Former Minister of State for the Ministry of Women and Child Development in the Government of India, informs fellow Indians that “we tell our children that cannot vote when they are 15 years of age, [and] we do not allow them to drive or to drink, then [why do] we think that they are capable of getting married [?] I refuse to accept that any child can give his or her consent. They are children, they are coerced, bullied, black-mailed, emotionally exploited “(Pratyush).

Fig. 1: Indian children married off at a young age.
Fig 2: Indian girl married to a man much older than her.
Source: Vajpayee.



Source: AFP.

Rupa Raghunath Das, an Indian that immigrated to Italy, states that “when a daughter is born, it is a curse to the family” (Washington). Most people from other countries might dismiss the dowry system as an ancient practice, and they might neglect its effects, but, in reality, “families start saving [for a girl’s wedding and dowry] on the day their daughter is born” (Gautham). Traditionally, parents of the groom and the groom himself expect a lump sum dowry from the bride’s family. The dowry can consist of gold jewelry, electronic appliances, money, and other items that seem valuable. In historical times, the dowry guaranteed a wife’s safety, and she was allowed to use it as she wished. The wife’s family provided for the dowry, not the husband, therefore, the dowry was considered the wife’s property. In recent times, the husbands and the in-laws usually take control of the dowry. They consider it and the bride their property, and they treat both as they feel. Also, if the dowry seems too little to cover expenses, the wife may suffer severe mental and physical abuse, burning, and even killing. A wife can not do anything about it, because the husbands may use the Laws of Manu as justification.

Shocking UNICEF results reveal that “forty percent of the world’s child marriages occur in India, and 78,000 young Indian women die in childbirth and from pregnancy complications each year” (Dhar). Some people might see so many early marriages as a shame, but most Indians follow the tradition. Due to the poor treatment women receive from men, many difficulties may arise during pregnancy, which can be deemed dangerous for both the child and mother. Sometimes, these difficulties become life threatening.

A woman’s job in India is staying at home and rearing children to become good cultured and moralized citizens. Some women are forced to work in order to have enough money to run the household. If a woman is considered inferior to a man, shouldn’t it be the man’s duty to provide for the family? Why should a woman do arduous work that requires a man’s strength and willpower? The only answer is that women are not truly inferior. The belief that they are inferior is unjust and hypocritical.

Women are considered to be unequal to men just because they do not have enough physical, mental, or emotional strength. Women only do not suffer at all when they give birth. They also only cook full blown meals and clean the entire house. Women only leave their families when they get married. Women only have to kill their children when their in-laws do not approve. It is true. Women truly do not have enough strength; therefore, they are not equal to Indian males.

It is unfortunate that women are considered unequal to men in India. The suppression of Indian women dates back to medieval times. This is completely unfair and unjust. Although this practice has been occurring for centuries, times are now changing, but, unfortunately, mentalities are not. Indian people need to change their views for the betterment of their country and fellow people. If everyone is given equal rights and an equal status, India will progress greatly.

Works Cited
AFP. "Child Marriage in India a Major Peril, Health Experts Tell Lancet." Wall Street Journal:
Live Mint10 Mar 2009: n. pag. Web. 24 Feb 2011.
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Aiken, Charles Francis. "The Laws of Manu." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York:
Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 24 Feb. 2011.
<http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09613a.htm>.
Banerjee, Chitra. “Arranged marriage: Stories.” New York, NY: Anchor, 1996. 223-224. Print.
Dhar, Sanjay. “Indian Girl Starts Revolt Against Early Arranged Marriages.” The Washington
Times. 03 Jun 2010: Student Research Center. Ebsco. Web. 20 Jan 2011.
Gautham, S. “Coming next: The Monsoon Divorce; In India, Even Today, 90 Percent of
Marriages are Arranged. But After the Lavish Ceremonies How Many Survive?” New
Statesman (1996) 18 Feb 2002: 32+ General OneFile. Web. 20 Jan 2011.
Hunter, Miranda; Hunter, William. “Women in the World of India.” Women World, 2004.
“Most Spouses First Meet on Wedding Day.” Indian Human Development Study. Web. 23 Jan
2011. <http://ihds.umd.edu/partnerchoice.html>.
Pratyush. "Lok Sabha Passes Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill 2006 to Make Law
Tougher." India daily 20 Dec 2006: n. pag. Web. 24 Feb 2011.
<http://www.indiadaily.org/entry/lok-sabha-passes-prohibition-of-child-marriage-bill-
2006-to-make-law-tougher/>.
Tripurari, Swami. "Krsnanusilanam: The Culture of Krsna Consciousness." Sri Caitanya
Sange VI.9 (2004): n. pag. Web. 24 Feb 2011.
<http://www.swami.org/pages/sanga/2004/2004_9.php>.
Vajpayee, Gopalaswaroop. "Child Marriage in Modern India, a Social Canker." Nutan
Savera 2009: n. pag. Web. 24 Feb 2011.
<http://www.nutansavera.com/new/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&catid
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Washington, Adrienne. “Tuition, Not a Dowry, in India.” The Washington Times. 03 May 2009:
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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Tinukaka said...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 12:49 am
Aanu, well done! it is a great compilation and the topic is great, it will bring lot of awareness
 
Hari_no_Popat said...
Mar. 29, 2011 at 11:54 am
Perfectlt timed during this decade of world-wide Human Rights abuse and suppression of women-kind. This (short) story is well documented and tells it as is.... I heartily recommend and strongly urge (every) literate Indian to read and digest.
 
aanu91 said...
Mar. 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm
Yay!!!
 
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