Men, Women And Society: Taboos That Haunt Urban India

A few days ago, a 12-year-old girl lost her life because of an age old taboo related to periods. She was sent out to sleep in a thatched barn as she was menstruating because in few traditions women are polluted and even toxic during those times.  And when the cyclone Gaja struck, unfortunately she was one of the victims. Can and should we really blame the cyclone for her death?

Indian civilization has always been clouded by strange taboos and delusions, from Sati to Human Sacrifices to witch hunting this country has seen it all. In spite we claiming to be modern and 21st-century-ready yet strangely all of the above mentioned practices are still prevalent, the numbers might have come down but we are still a long way to go for complete eradication of such social evils.

But this topic is not about such serious superstitions and taboos or about gory stories of inhumanness shown by some in name of culture or religion. This article is about retrogression that we Netizens, the so called urban-educated-Indians witness and in some cases are even a part of. Let’s start from the beginning of life…

Sons Over Daughters

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We are all aware of strange obsession Indians have for a boy child. Words like Female infanticides are not alien to us, in fact we read about it in the newspapers almost every day. We are sure most of us are proud of the fact that we are not like them, but are we really? We might not be killers like them, but if you look closely in every family and in every neighborhood, there are educated parents who have multiple babies in a hope to have a boy and as silence spectators we watch them do that. Think about it...

Gender Roles

From the beginning itself children are assigned to their gender roles, one might argue such is not the case in urban India. That’s true, in most homes girls and boys are treated equally at least when it comes to equal opportunities in education. But when we say gender roles, we mean that we often expect daughters to help their mothers in the kitchen. There is no such pressure on boys to learn to make round roties before they marry.

Period Taboo

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But the above is least of a girl's worry, the taboo that comes with periods are our real horror.  Periods have always been treated with silence and shame. Almost all women, be it educated or not-so-educated have accepted that we are impure during that time of the month and with that agreed on all bias-ness that came with it- be it entering a temple or a kitchen or for that matter even praying. We all women are guilty of agreeing blindly to this notion.

Marriage Troubles

Now let’s talk about marriage, well things are regressive even here. Lately we have heard a lot about honor killings but since the article is not about gory details of human insaneness, we will avoid that topic.  Let’s talk about the hard times lovers have to face, if they chose to go for a person of different-caste. Forcefully married, disinherited, cut-off from the family, we all have witnessed our friends and family members go through that, in spite of they being regular couples. Now imagine, the difficulties LGBT community have to face to get societal acceptance. 

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But things are not that simple even if you chose to go for an arranged marriage. Yeah I am talking about dowries, a nightmare for every girl and her family. Leaving Dowry deaths and marital abuse aside, believe it or not all families are guilty of giving or receiving dowry. It may not be a plot of land or luxury cars, but even expecting a girl family to foot the marriage expenses and have a grand “Baratiyon ka swagat” is a subtle form of dowry. I am sure most of us have seen parents selling of their belongings or taking a loan to host a grand reception, an affair that should have involved both the parties, EQUALLY.

Religious Insanity

We have become so immune to such ridiculous religious superstitions to an extent that when 13-year-old Jain girl from Hyderabad died after fasting for 68 days during the holy period of 'Chaumasa'.  600 people attended the child’s funeral hailing her as a 'bal tapasvi'. The funeral procession was called a 'shobha yatra' - a mark of celebration. Nobody questioned the parents or the religious leaders for letting a child do that.

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The worrying fact is, intentionally or unintentionally, we all are equal participants in the mass delusion that women are inferior, it’s okay to give dowries, wish for a boy child and not pray or enter temples when you are menstruating. No law or just education can repair this centuries old broken system.

The only thing that can bring about a change is by bringing a change in the attitude of the people and creating awareness. We need to start with uplifting the status of a woman in the society. Instead of treating them as a weaker sex and a “paraya dhan” give them equal opportunities and enforce it through culture and religion because they are the only things people seem to follow blindly.

Picture Source: Loveisallcolours.com; Standard Issue Magazine; The Socjourn; Popcornin

#GenderRoles #GirlChild #Religion

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