The Bold Voice of J&K

Unchallenged patriarchy & domestic abuse

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M R LALU

International Women’s Day this year came with startling revelations from two reputed women personalities in India. The severity of the disclosure was so intense and their statements indeed were finger-pointing on the double standards that exist in the society when it comes to the rights and protection of girls and women. Call it the feminine dilemma. The nurtured belief is that girls are naturally inferior to boys and therefore, they need to be under the imposed protection of the male. Khushbu Sundar, a famous film actress and politician from Tamil Nadu came out revealing the instances of brutal molestations she had suffered at the hands of her father when she was a child and the Chief of Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal also recounted similar instances that rattled the conscience of a large number of sensible Indians. Their childhood, according to them, had been a nightmare as they had been a subject of torture and domestic sexual savagery. How isolating and terrifying such experiences would be when a girl child discovers that her father is a sexual pervert. Indignation and meaningless consolidation of judgemental apprehensions make the experience horrendous. An unimaginable predicament of a girl realising the worst in her father. This is a social issue. It is not a delicate dilemma and the impulse to silence alternative voices against familial acrimony on young girls with increasing intolerance, conflict and abuse needs strict vigilance and punishment. Revelations by reputed individuals help the press to catch the wind but what about those uncountable children and women who suffer the horror of a masculine patriarchal dominance both at home and outside.
From the spiritual perspective of an essential motherhood to that of the reverence rendered to the womenfolk in every field of life, India has been an exemplary landmass that propitiated and propagated the genuine value of the feminine in its all possible forms and principles. To substantiate this, we need to get the most ancient records which plaudit the feminine gender in India’s civilizational journey. Surprisingly, our understanding and acceptance for the womenfolk begins from the days of Vedas or beyond. Rigveda’s beautiful aphorisms not only narrate the importance of women as an important social being but it vividly elucidates the significance of women education and scholarship as well. “A scholarly woman, the entire life of society depends on you. You provide us with the right knowledge. May you bring knowledge to all segments of society”, says one of such mantras in the Rigveda. This Rig-Vedic aphorism alone is enough for us to visualize the depth of understanding that the Vedic society had been intertwined with and the importance that it had given for girl child education. The Vedic tradition accorded women the highest respect and treated her as the holiest of all divine forms, the mother. India is where the idea of motherhood is attributed to the nation. For us, it is not a piece of land but a divine motherhood encapsulated in its soul. A nation, which is adorned with the status of a mother, had its entire edifice of freedom struggle spiraling around the idea of her emancipation from the evil clutches of foreign dominance or rescuing the mother from the demonic hold of invasion and colonial aggression. How deeper did the nationalist revivalist sentiments in the song written in praise of a nation by Bankim Chandra Chattopdhyay ignite love in the minds of Indians. Vande Mataram brought the latest of the best thoughts on India’s motherliness in its poetic glory. Depicting India as a divine being, carving the beauty of the landscape in the most beautiful manner, the National Song juxtaposes its glory with complete munificence. Imagine the level of sacrifices made by millions of people. See the supreme satisfaction reflected on the faces of those patriots who walked to death for her freedom. From the unfathomable essence of human sacrifices of the highest order tells us stories of love and enigmatic desire to live and die for a noble cause called the divine motherhood.
Modern society’s bizarre notions underestimate the substance of these ancient values. Gurukuls of the olden days had overabundant opportunities for women to intellectually flourish and socially grow with exuberance and excellence. Undoubtedly, many families across India overloaded with material intentions and westernized thoughts have lost the cognitive domain to keep the families together with love, respect and compassion. Born-chilling revelations by these women not only calls for a better approach towards the feminine but also reveals the ruthlessness of the calamitous hypocrisy that girls and women are subjected to in the Indian families. It is an identity crisis that engulfs the family atmosphere, wherein the beautiful relationship between parents and kids becomes a metaphorical mechanization. And of course the intense influence of social media and the gadgets that the conscience keepers in families bury themselves in keep pulling the deeper intimacy between the children and the parents to unrecognizable realms. International Women’s Day also brought alarming signals of suppression that the religious patriarchy presses hard on a large number of women in Afghanistan and Iran. Agitations shaking the basic tenets of religious fanaticism have spilt a lot of blood of women who spoke louder for their rights.
Families all over the world must be suffocating with a silent protest brewing against the male dominance inside their circumscribed spaces. But most of the cases wouldn’t come out as the abysmal patriarchal interventions would hammer heavily on the agitative impulse of the feminine. Starting from the darkened corners of the families to the complicated and populated environment of the schools and colleges to the public spaces, suppressed despair of a girl child or a woman could be heard. There have been hearts wrenching inputs from Iran about the poisoning of more than 1000 girls in schools across that country. It is seen as part of an extremist response probably with the tacit administrative support to the agitation propelled by the death of Masha Amini, the lady who blew the whistle against the patriarchal aggression. Violence against women and girls has become a normal routine in India. With the effect of advanced systems of education involving more girl children and the perceived notion of enhanced role of women becoming louder in a progressive society, there needs to be proactive efforts to strengthen the feminine impulses in a familial atmosphere.
Though the constitution of India carved a genderless Bharat out of the long stretch of landscape from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, the cultural reminiscence of the country naturally carried the conception of a graceful femininity, accepted it and nurtured its importance. Bharat is Bharat Mata for most of the Indians despite waves of criticism lashing out calling it a saffronized terminology establishing majoritarian supremacy. India’s spiritual cognition throughout its cultural lineage has eminently established this respect for women and their role in the society was undoubtedly defined and protected. Khushbu and Swati Maliwal had broken the cord of hypocrisy by accentuating the need for more action oriented discourses to happen. Our girls and women need more support and strengthening in this direction.
(The author is freelance journalist and views expressed are his personal).

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