Position of women has always been a matter of discussion in debates, newspapers, social media and many magazines. Indian society from the ancient period to the modern times has considered women as an important part of society. After so many incidences happening in the society everyone focus on getting the solutions to improve the position of women but before coming to solution one should know where it came or originated from and then accordingly one should go for a solution, therefore I went back into the past and look into the origin of the problem.
Today, our objective is to reduce the sexual discrimination faced by women in the society where a girl is taught that she is a girl and a boy is taught that he is a boy and they are different, their gender creates a difference since childhood, to reduce the crime against women, to help develop the mentality of society by interpreting the sacred or ancient texts in an innovative and different manner, where the scope of thinking of our society is widened and they consider the society without the division on the basis of gender instead they consider society as one where humans live peacefully and respectfully without any fear.
“You cannot study further you are a girl”, “You should be careful while you wear a short dress”, aren’t these comments common? Have we ever thought about what the problem is? Where does this come from? What are the roots? What is the cause? What is the solution? Who is the victim? How do women feel after hearing such comments? Do you ever think what the position is? Where do we exist? How should a woman be treated? What kind of awareness has come till today? What changes and what are the steps taken by authority? Are they really implemented? What is society doing to better the position of women? Is that what we deserve?
To answer these questions, I tried to dive into the roots of these problems the problems may be small today which appears to us in the form of comments, whistling, eve-teasing etc. Is that written somewhere that men and the society can easily torture women on the basis of gender or is there anything written anywhere that female is subordinate to men or should they be treated like this?
The answer for me is no, I support the trend or the taglines very common on social media “any girl be it black or white, be it slim or fat, be it virgin or not, deserves to be respected”. This is what our ancient texts also represent that women should be respected, women are entitled to the behaviour they deserve, they are supposed to live happily. We thought women were treated like a goddess and our research in the old texts also prove that women are a form of a goddess. Today, every one worship goddesses, make offerings to Maa Laxmi, Maa Durga, Maa Kali etc. And, everyone takes goddess Durga and Kali as the symbol of bravery. Where is that bravery? Do we still follow it or do we take any of these characters as feminine? When we deeply look into society, the answer is “No”. The religious texts Mahabharata also lowers the position of women, where Draupadi was undressed by her own brothers-in-law. Was that correct? Are women meant to be objectified? Is that what our culture teaches us? On one hand, they worship women and on the other hand, they say they should be mortgaged while gambling or they should be taken as an object in-game. Is that what we are taught? Even today we see cases of wife swapping, or people using their wives, daughters as objects. Shouldn’t we do something about it or is that something we should support or try to change as watchful citizens of the country.
What position do we hold in this society is the most important issue we find that needs to be answered. The question is the inclusion in politics, how many women are indulged in ruling the country. The thing is our patriarchal society never allows women to be in power. Government is though trying to uplift the position of women in society by giving reservations to them. The problem occurs in the roots of the society the families how many families allow their daughters or wives or mothers to rule or govern the nation. We say Kiran Bedi is one Indian daughter who struggled through the prejudices and became successful in her mission. We think that it is the support of her family which took her to a platform where she is not only a retired IPS officer today but also a politician, social activist, and a tennis player.
The root cause of the problem
The question is where are the loopholes that we need to cover? What gaps need to be filled in order to create a gender-neutral society where women can freely walk without hesitating, or choose any profession which she finds suitable for her or no one stops her by saying that she is a girl and she is not expected to do this thing. To solve the problem, when we look into the past or ancient times, it turns to be a surprise as to what we saw was totally different and what the situation today is different. Our ancient texts teach us:
Women must be honoured and adorned, by their father, brothers, husbands and brothers-in-law, who seek their own welfare.
Our ancient Indian texts suggest us to honour and adorn the women, or a woman should be protected by her father when she is a kid, by her brother in the middle age and by her husband when she is married, and lastly by her son when she is old. This means they should be protected but what we see today is a completely different interpretation where the society as a whole took this phrase in a wrong manner that they are not capable to protect themselves and the society thought that they are subordinate or submissive. Is that what the Smriti writers wanted to convey? I feel like if they could have interpreted the texts differently our society today could have been better.
In a house where women are honoured, there gods are pleased. But where they are not honoured, and are insulted, nothing done in that house yields good result.
When texts depict that women should be honoured and protected and simultaneously if they are honoured gods are pleased that means it is the god who commands their safety and honour. Then, why does a human, instead of honouring her, dishonours her? How come women are honoured when she is considered to be subordinate and submissive?
In a house where womenfolk live in grief, the whole family perishes, In a house where womenfolk are happy, that house prospers.
Now in this clause, they talk about the happiness of women that means happy women leads to the prosperous house. Now if a man wants the house to grow and develop their house then they should not have treated the woman as submissive instead they should have protected, adorned and honoured the women to keep them happy and to maintain the prosperity of every house leading to the development of the nation.
We, do not deny that today this prosperity is seen only in some houses. Today, though education has played a very important role in the growth and development of society, as it is the duty of the sovereign to take care of the happiness of the citizens. The state is the highest form of political union, for it provides a framework for the satisfaction of basic wants and also ensured a means to secure and realise good life in a uniquely human sense, this means the state is concerned with the security and happiness of the people and people involves the women too. When according to the philosophers or with the ancient smriti writers we go, they say about the happiness of women but we need to question ourselves, are women in India happy?
The answer might be no or might be affirmative. The subject matter is, the government or the sovereign has given the rights to women, earlier women were deprived of voting and now women are granted the voting rights, they have got reservation, child marriage is abolished, in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1997 SC 3011 the sexual harassment against women in the workplace was declared to be a punishable offence. But even after all these rules and regulations met out by the government, is that really a scenario of peace for women? The answer is no. Even if the laws are present we don’t find it deterrent enough to tackle the situation now or in the near future. If in Nirbhaya case the court decided and punished the victims by giving them capital punishment, did the scene change? No! Today if a woman says that she has been raped, it is taken as a proof and the burden of proving that rape has not been committed, shifts to the wrongdoer but does it mitigate the loss or does it reduce the events of the wrongdoing?
After these verses of manusmriti, it also provides some harsh verses even they are interpreted wrongly by the society some of them are;
It is the nature of women to seduce men in this world; which is why even the wise are cautious in the company of women.
this phrase may be taken as women are more desirous or they may deviate a wise
man from his path by her tricks or by seduction. Now they may say it is true
just because it is not only Manu, who says this even Kautilya in Arthashastra
talks about women spies,
where women were taken as objects who can bring information from kings.
Spy had to be used for two reasons— internal policing and war. For this, he classified spies into two categories— fixed (samstha) and wanderer (sancāra) spies.
This doesn’t mean we need to think that women should be considered to be of a bad character, this verse may also have meant that in that period women had all the rights to choose, to be seductive and people should have broadened their thinking of seeing a woman as a whole or in general. We agree that women play an important role in sexual life but that doesn’t completely depict that women are just meant to be considered as objects and the society neglects their humanitarian part, where like other humans they also live their daily lives.
Wise people should avoid sitting alone with one’s mother, daughter or sister. Since carnal desire is always strong, it can lead to temptation.
Here, when Manu says, wise men should avoid sitting with a female in general and that too alone, we feel like this was at that time when people lacked sex education and they were not as developed as people today are. The time today is totally different. We need to understand that if the person or men is wise why he would keep his carnal desire above his wisdom when he is alone with a woman. In present times, there are chances when men and women are together alone but that does not mean men and women get into a carnal relationship all the time. Today, where people are educated they can easily control their carnal needs and they at least know that it is a part of life and just the part.
If people argue that, even Kautilya and Manu support that women are not good by character. They should know that they referred to a different society and a different era where the society was not literate enough, not developed. Today the situation is different with a different era where women are trying hard to get the deserving status by hook or crook. Secondly, Kautilya did not try to demean women he had great respect for women and maybe he only referred to the women who wanted to choose their profession as spies. Maybe he never talked about forced labour. But, our society took it in the wrong way which was not right in the sense that women can lose the position that they deserve to get in society.
We know the situation today is different but the respect for women should have existed at that time and today also. When we peep into past where Ramayana on one hand shows that wife should be respected when Lord Rama declared war against Lankapati Ravana who captured her wife. Secondly, a mother should be respected was depicted in Ramayana when Lord Rama went for Vanvasa for fourteen years on orders of mother Kaikeyi. That depicts that even god respected women in the form of mother and loved women, fought for her honour.
Non-violence, truthfulness, forgiveness, prevention of jealousy and cruelty are duties to all.
When Kautilya says they are duties to all that means be it a male or a female everyone should be treated in the same manner no one has the right to control one’s behaviour or teach them how should they behave or no one has the right to tell anybody that “do not smile or laugh you are a girl”. These are not only the prejudices but a way to subjugate women and not giving them a chance to overcome these prejudices and free themselves from the chains of the society and be in power with the respect that every individual deserves as a part of their basic rights. It not only will lead to the prosperity of the state but it will lead to the development of the nation.
Crimes against Women – A way to hold them back.
Rape or sexual crimes against women are common in society; this is because of the mentality of the people that have been prominent for a long time. Not even this, the female infanticide that was common earlier has now turned into female foeticide with the development of modern technologies. At every step in life, women are supposed to fulfil the stereotypes that society has laid for them right from birth till death.
The crimes against women should ideally reduce as more and more people are getting a proper education, but surprisingly that is not the case as the crime rates against women are increasing, be it dowry deaths, domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, forced prostitution, trafficking, slavery, female foeticide etc. The women are a part of society and hence they should be treated as if they possess their basic human rights, all these crimes hold women back in terms of their development as a part of society as it creates fear among them. This is not fair on humanitarian grounds.
We really question at the existence of the women as to why and how we are still alive in this society with so many prejudices. Facing problems before birth till death, is that what we wanted? In ancient times women fought for their rights like Rani of Jhansi, Razia Sultan, Begam Hazrat Mahal, and Indira Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu in modern times and today every awake woman is fighting for her position in the society that she deserves.
I feel like it is not only the government but also the citizens who are literate and even those who are not literate should see the humanitarian perspective and be more liberal while carrying such discrimination on the basis of sex and consider gender as just a part of life and not the motive to live. One should focus on the grass-root level and start it from the basic stage that is family, then it will be carried forward by religion, then community and then a nation and it will also contribute to nation’s prosperity, and there will be no social movements where the girls of our country will call themselves out on the roads to get the rights that they deserve. On the part of the government, the sovereign of the country need not make more laws to protect females instead they are required to implement laws properly with some deterrent measures where each person whoever stands with a crime in his hands against any women can be treated in a way which he deserves to be treated.
Our society should teach every boy or male that there is no difference between a male and a female and you are required to keep them happy and let them live on their conditions, let them fly as per their own wishes, so that we can get an India where women easily, with the respect and honour which they deserve, can derive their position in the society where she will not be second after men rather they will stand or their position will be in level with that of men, and they no more have to live with the prejudices that they are served with.
Editor’s Note Despite proving herself in every field, from rocking the cradle to running the nation, leaving no stone unturned, still, only misery earned. Though considering women as the wheel of the cart, society is still not ready to accept women and men to be equal. The slogans and processions have worked out in empowering women but the stigma of women being women still prevails. The change is happening but the pace still crawls.