A reflection on Nita’s question

Nita’s question set me thinking…(see comment to post on domestic violence). She has asked if it would be nice if women were endowed with a sixth sense that they are walking into a death trap on the eve of the wedding. Wouldn’t they be able to walk out and save themselves? My question is…how many women will actually do that? Do you think women will walk out a wedding and live life on their own terms? There are a million factors that can influence such a decision…unmarried sisters, indebted parents or social stigma attached to a single woman who chose to leave the night before her wedding…

The only way this situation can change is through a change in mindset. It is not easy…it cannot be brought about by promulgating a law….it is gradual…social change always is….So, I would say that the scenario envisaged by Nita is, at best, idealistic.

some more on domestic violence…

Recent news reports on the coming into force of the new law against domestic violence have praised the law as a step in the right direction. But the provisions of the said law make me wonder if it will actually prove detrimental, both to women’s welfare, and to the traditional institution of marriage. I may be wrong in saying what I am, but I seriously doubt many women will use the law to take action against abusive husbands or in-laws, because the provisions of the law rule out all scope of reconciliation. But the question that remains to be answered is this…can a tough new law alone change the situation of women in this country? What is needed is a change in mindset and I do not see that happening any time in the near future. It might be a pessimistic view…but it is unfortunately true…

on domestic violence…

Tough new law protecting Indian women against domestic violence takes effect
The Associated Press

Men who beat, threaten or yell at their wives or live-in girlfriends could be jailed and fined under India’s first law specifically targeting the often-tolerated problem of domestic violence.
The new law, which took effect Thursday, also applies to men or their families who harass wives for larger dowries, the government said.

The measure aims to prevent cases in which a husband or his family kills a wife because her family did not give a big enough dowry.

The Domestic Violence Act defines abuse broadly, including verbal, physical, sexual, emotional and economic mistreatment. Violators face up to a year in prison, a fine of 20,000 rupees (US$435; €360), or both.

“We have been trying for long to protect women from domestic violence. In India, around 70 percent of women are victims of these violent acts in one or another form,” said Renuka Choudhury, the junior minister for women and child development.

Attitudes toward women, especially among educated urbanites, have changed considerably in the past few decades. But much of the country remains conservative, and many look the other way when husbands abuse wives.

The framers of the new law made provisions for abused women to complain directly to judges instead of police, who often side with men and rarely act on abuse complaints by women.
Now, when a woman files a complaint the onus is on the man to prove that he did not abuse his wife. The law also ensures the woman’s right to stay in the family home.

Women’s rights activists and civic groups welcomed the new law. “It’s a victory for the women’s movement in this country which has been fighting for years for laws that protect the basic rights of women,” said Ranjana Kumari of the New Delhi-based Center for Social Research. However, she said the law needs to be backed by adequate implementation funds to allow federal and state governments to pay for protection officers and provide legal aid and counseling. “While this is a giant step forward, it will only be meaningful if government sets aside funds to provide shelter and protection to a woman against further abuse if she files a complaint,” Kumari said.

Describing the legislation as a “tool in the hands of millions of women in India,” she said women’s rights groups would soon launch a campaign to educate women about the law. A U.N. Population Fund report said up to 70 percent of married women aged 15-49 in India are victims of beating or coerced sex.


It’s a beautiful day!

There!! It’s a beautiful day in Chennai once again. As I left home this morning, I found it really hard to believe that just 24 hours ago, the skies had opened up and it had rained cats and dogs. So much so that all of Chennai city was flooded with knee deep water. The stagnant water and the fact that my dratted Scooty stopped midway made me hate the rain. But, sitting in the warmth and safety of my house, there are days when I have wished it would never stop. Rain brings prosperity and happiness, it is nature’s way of endowing her blessings to those who deserve it. Yeah right!! try saying that to someone who is stuck in pouring rain for an hour in the middle of nowhere with a bike that won’t start!! That was my case. Yet, I love the rain. I still think getting wet is romantic…even if Anand does not agree…What say?

on women’s lib

“Gone are the days when a woman sat reticently huddled in the corner of a room waiting for orders from the male chauvinists. Today, she is modern, yet with a traditional free thinking spirit and looks for challenges rather than wait for an opportunity to knock.
She is ‘comfortably conservative’. She chooses to take on the continuity of familial ties but can be an iconoclast when she turns away from established practices. She believes in her capacity to excel in whatever she has chosen for herself. She has a positive attitude towards life. Her self-confidence is intact. She definitely has an opinion.
Her progress has been in leaps and bounds in the field of education. Today she is financially independent & no longer depends on her father or her brother for survival. Indeed, she comes out unscathed by any of the terrible storms she endures in her life. The woman of today holds top positions in all fields of work, be it in government or industry. The woman of today has carved a niche for herself even in the armed forces that have been a male bastion from time immemorial.
She deserves to be applauded for her endeavour to contribute to the still incomplete process of nation building. The need of the hour is to understand that a woman can do more than just nurture home & hearth – that she can step out into the world and excel in whatever she has chosen for herself.”

I came across this piece of writing when I was looking through some random files on my computer. I do not even remember when I wrote this or why. But reading this, and gauging my own reactions to it, it occurred to me that people change so drastically over the years that they become unrecognisable even to themselves. She can be an iconoclast…that is what I have said. Now, I wonder if all this is really true. Not just that, it makes me wonder if all this talk about women’s liberation really makes sense. What is women’s lib anyway? What if they do not want to be liberated? It set me thinking about the many women I have met and known in the 24 short years I have walked this earth. The first woman who came to my mind was my great grandmother. She died in 1999 at the age of 82…or was it 83? I really do not remember. She was as conservative a woman as you could find at the end of the 20th century. Yet, she exuded a confidence that is rare to find even in the most successful career woman of the 21st century. She had a firm conviction that she could survive the odds, whatever they may be. And she did. Till the end. Yet, she was not what one would commonly expect of a “liberated” woman. She was liberated all right. She could have lived any way she wanted to…had she wanted to. She chose not to cross the limits laid down by a “male chauvinistic” society. No regrets and a life well lived.

That brings me to the end of my first blog post. The need of the hour is to understand that a woman can do more than just nurture home & hearth. That makes no sense to me any more. I have realised in the process of growing up from a rebellious teen to a mature (??) woman that by nurturing home and hearth a woman can probably accomplish more than she can by proclaiming to the world that she is a man’s equal. I have realised that a woman is not a man’s equal. I have realised that men and women are different and will always be. I take pride in being a woman because I am (theoretically?) capable of more patience and more love than a man. Now, I do not know if I am capable of it, but I certainly know that women are capable of it. After all, as Simone de Beauvoir said, “Vive la différence!!”