The journey of Indian women through oppression

This article deals with the plight of Indian women, who in the 65th year of Indian independence are yet to breathe in the air of freedom from the social norms and beliefs that refrain them from enjoying an equal status with men

Even in the wake of the 21st century, we are still faced with discrimination and subjugation on Indian women mocking at the laws enforced to ensure that women are as integral a part of the society as men. The distinction on genders only takes a secondary place, when the question arises on her safety and the value rendered for her life. There have been many women in ancient, medieval and modern India who had their expertise and achievement in social, political and educational realms acknowledged and given utmost respect and appreciation ,but what of the socially and educationally backward sections who themselves aren't aware of their rights?

Social evils

India has witnessed many social evils which has been opposed, fought against and also abolished partially or fully. One among them is Sati which required or mostly forced the widows to burn themselves in her husband's funeral pyre. Thinking further one has to comment, this irrational practice had its black roots in the narrow minds of those who considered a married woman had no individuality or existence of her own without her husband. Moreover, widows were treated with contempt not letting her to take part in auspicious events or celebrations. Even if Sati doesn't exist today, in many rural parts of India widows are ward off as a bad omen (Abshakun) from marriages and sacred rituals . But widowers were or are never taken as inauspicious.

Child marriages

This is another practice which was abolished and drafted as illegal but in many parts of India it is still prevalent. Children, mostly the girls are forced to marry a boy or older guy of her parent's choice. This was done to avoid the girl from marrying outside the community and bringing disgrace to the family. Marriage at young age not only restrains the girl's world to managing her household and family but curbs the development of her talents and skills. She is denied the right to education like her brothers which curtails development of her personality. Further more, the risks of conceiving at young age is at times fatal to mother and the child.


Yes, there are laws to forbid people from receiving or giving dowry. This practice and its ill effects surprisingly affects people of high social economic status as well as the rural population. This had come into practice to ensure financial security for the bride after marriage. But it is a shame that a woman is valued in terms of the dowry she brings with her to the groom's house. Man has always tampered with our natural resources to make his life more comfortable. Dowry which originated with good and healthy interests were altered by the evil minds of the society to suit the male chauvinists and label women as commodities who had to be sold by her parents. Death by cooking gas cylinders has been reported from various parts of India which has been set up to look like an accident by the in laws for dowry issues. The willingness to say no to giving dowry and being adamant in one's values by not asking for it is the initial step we all can take to eradicate this system and drive it away from our society

Female infanticide

Why is the girl child considered a burden by her parents ? A burden that makes the parents undertake the revolting act of murdering their own flesh and blood. Sometimes the new born are left out on the streets or in front of orphanages. The women are expected to give birth to a boy by the in laws and if not, is treated with disgust. Many a times the mother is forced to abandon the girl child fearing her in laws and husband. We even hear of girl children been sold over to people by their own parents. These children end up either in some sex rackets or in some child labor agency. Coming back to the question of why a girl child is a burden to her family, a girl needs to be brought up at home with more or less same needs as that of a boy. But she needs to be protected at every stage or every moment of her life from men known and unknown to her. If women were not looked upon as creatures to be exploited by men, it would have made lives of a million women much more easier and safer. The female to male ratio which is declining would have regained its balance to some extent.

Crimes against women

Women are victims of not only domestic violence. She is not safe anywhere where men are around. In work places, buses, trains, shopping malls, theatres or even hospitals she has to sense danger to be safe or even alive. Sexual assaults on women have only been increasing in our capital making India the fourth most unsafe country for women to live. Even infants are not spared from the lustful acts of these inhuman beings. For a country where goddesses are worshipped and the country itself addressed as Bharat matha, it is indeed a thing to hang our heads in shame. News of acid attacks on women have been reported in many northern parts of the country and in many instances the accused had managed to find loop holes to escape. Mercy pleas have come to the rescue of those men who not only raped kids of 5-6 yrs but also killed them if the assault itself hadn't done it. Such is the law system that lets the convicts escape to resume their criminal lives. Mobile and spy cameras intruding into a woman's privacy is yet another concern for mainly the young girls. These cameras aim to disgrace a woman's pride by publicizing her privacy. In many families the girl is not asked for her approval in her marriage. Moreover if she marries outside the community she is outcasted . We have heard of honor killings in many instances giving out the message that a girl is not even given the freedom to choose her life partner .Women still are not given voice of opinion or allowed to take decisions in many homes. Though some elder women in certain communities in the south are considered the head and are the final decision makers in family matters ,women at large are still living in the shadows of their men. In certain places like Rajasthan, women are not allowed to go in front of men without their pallu on their heads and have to speak in low tones. In Manu smrithi , Manu had mentioned women to be bound by family relationships and to be under the protection of her father and husband in different phases of her life and never worth of freedom. Though it is not known if his words have been misinterpreted this may have influenced the ill treatment of women in one way or the other. God had created men only physically stronger than women but her wisdom cant be questioned for this matter. A woman needs a man's support to have a family life but she is capable of thinking and making decisions for herself

Advancement towards women empowerment

As women in our villages are victims of male supremacy in all respects than the urban population, changes should be aimed at large in the rural population. Modern women know her rights and what she needs is support to question it, when she is denied what she deserves. With these steps enlisted below gradually India can shed away the shield of a nation where women live in oppression

  • Equality of genders at home

  • Right to education

  • Freedom of expression

  • Panchayaths & political parties

  • Right to property

  • Enforcement of laws for crimes against women

  • Equality of genders at home

    In many families especially in lower social economic status families, girls are asked to stay back at home and help their mothers in the kitchen when their brothers go to school. They are also given the smallest and last portion of meals after her father and brothers have their food. Toys and books are gifted to her brothers and she gets hold of them only if they are ready to share it with her. She is not allowed to step out of the house to play either for fear of her safety or because she needs to be finishing off the household chores. This is the way a girl's childhood slips away from her tender grasp. Parents are the first people who should practice equality among their children whether it be a boy or girl. By doing so not only is the girl given right of equality but also the boys who grow up to men learn girls are not inferior to them. Parents should bring up their sons with good values to respect and protect women and not pounce on them every now and then.

    Right to education and employment

    All girls and boys should be given the opportunity to educate themselves. Kerala and Sikkim are the only states which have attained cent percentage literacy ,with a major part of the population in the remaining states still lying in the darkness of illiteracy. Most of them don't have schools in their villages and for the rest even three meals a day comes with difficulty that going to school becomes a distant dream. Schools should be started in villages under the government to educate the poor without discriminating between boys and girls. Education opens the windows of the mind and it is education that will enable an individual to seek his/her identity and his/her role in the society. If education is a means by which a man is taught of virtues and ethics, for women it provides social and intellectual development. A civilized man knows that he has to remain humane and not treat women as if he is an animal though its individual traits that determine his character. A woman who is employed shall not be dependent on anyone else and don't need to think twice before leaving a physically and mentally torturing husband. She can look after her children even if the husband is a chronic drunkard and doesn't support the family financially. Moreover education and employment boosts the self confidence of a person and instills the strength to overcome tough times in life

    Freedom of expression

    In villages panchayats are held with great respect and the decisions of the mukhya(head) are followed without dispute. Women should be let to participate and get elected as the heads to make the backward societies realize she is capable of handling and managing the panchayat efficiently and doesn't need to spent her whole life behind the walls of the kitchen. Apart from panchayats, in urban areas more women should come forward in the political scenario to work for women and their upliftment. Slowly the male dominated society can be changed to one that doesn't favor any one gender in particular. Female leaders and politicians can bring changes in the thinking of the society and raise awareness. Feminism to aid women empowerment and not necessitating hatred and opposition of the male population shall bring about the much awaited and wanted feminist revolution for equality.

    Right to property

    From ancient times, the daughters of families are not given share of their patriarchal wealth. Though it is not the same in all parts of India ,the daughters are married cutting off ties with the family wealth and property. Sons are given right to the family home where as the daughter is given her share of wealth as the dowry. This practice has to change as it marks distinguishing between sons and daughters by their parents itself. Women should be given right to patriarchal wealth like men. Considering the insecure conditions in which she lives it is inevitable to ask for security in the form of property.

    Enforcement of laws for women

    The laws for crimes against women should be made stringent with no accused going unpunished. It is the lenient law system that has provided for the rise in crimes against women in India to some extent. The convicts are tried in court for long years and finally set free mentioning lack of evidence as the excuse. Where as the victim is humiliated by the society and media until she loses her strength to fight against all odds. The victim is treated as if she deliberately had asked to be harassed or assaulted. The victim hesitates to approach the cops fearing the disdainful manner in which she will be treated by the police while recording her statement. Moreover she and her family is disgraced by such unfortunate events. Statements should be recorded by lady officials in the comfort of the victim's home or her chosen place. Also the crimes against women should be tried without much delay with the penalties given at least the same year. The penalty for rapes should be changed from a mere imprisonment of couple of years to something that matches the brutality of the crime committed. The introduction of Women police stations for every ordinary police station exclusively for dealing with crimes against females is a appreciable step taken by Tamilnadu government and should be followed by other states.

    Let us all hope and await to wake up in the dawn of a new India, where the society renders true respect and equality to women from which she has been deprived of all these years

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