On June 26, 2018, India was named the most dangerous place for women. How is it that the country known for its gorgeous array of colors, exceptional style, and spicy food houses the most hideous environment for women? The culture that people absorb peacefulness from through “namaste” and elephant tapestries harbors social traditions so abusive, it’s own women can’t be at peace, sometimes even in their own home.
Many are embarrassed to admit the sadness and disappointment in discovering that their baby is a girl. For some it’s because a girl can never be an equivalent to a boy, to others it’s because they are scared to bring another girl into this wretched world. If a couple misses the window to abort their daughter, they will raise her with disappointment, try again for a son, or give her up for adoption. According to New India Times, in 2011, a staggering 90% of 11 million abandoned kids were girls. The desperation for having a son is so strong that many generations of families have developed theories and superstitions for how to conceive a boy.
Of the people that keep their daughters, some think of their daughters as investments. Pay for around her for 18 years, immediately find her a husband and assure the dowry should cover at least half of the price. During this time, the girl is trained to cook, do housework, and not date because God forbid she find herself, someone. Once she is married, the responsibility is out of their hands.
I have seen the panic in my relative’s eyes when their daughter graduated college. They panicked because they looked at their daughter’s age as a timer; At the ripe age of 25, she will become too old to find a husband. The degree she earned was only a merit that made her marriage application more desirable to potential suitors. Her photograph would float around, first to the family’s immediate circle, then second-degree connections, third degree, and if all fails then they route to online matrimony websites; anything to make sure that they find the “perfect” stranger to take over the responsibility of their daughter. The guy should have enough money to support the couple, he should have a job, and the rest (looks, personality, family, where he lives, etc.)is extra credit. Once they are married, the parents wipe their hands clean. Countless daughters face emotional and physical abuse at their in-law’s house because they are brought in as slaves. They are expected to remain inside the house except to purchase groceries ,clean , and cook for the entire family. Most aren’t allowed to advance their careers because they are told to focus on taking care of their in-laws and bear children. Economic independence is nothing more than a forgotten dream.
I know a guy who got married simply because his mom is growing old and someone needs someone to take care of her. During the time he was engaged and after he got married he continued to live his life as though he is single.
Many daughters get lucky and find happiness in their husband and family. Other times, the daughters are put into painful situations with no exit. The daughter is supposed to do what she is told, if she doesn’t do it right she is abused verbally, mentally, and/or physically by her in-laws. Sometimes the abuse is so harsh that she cannot leave the house, what happens at home stays at home, and nobody should get a sense of what goes on behind closed doors. When you show that the daughter has no right to say anything, you are showing everyone that she will always stay silent. Many men take advantage of this silence and sexually harass her because they know she won’t say anything. In January 2018 the Delhi police revealed that 72% of rape cases were committed by family and friends.
Young girls are not allowed to speak up for themselves because it is looked at as rude and once they are older, they can’t speak up to their husbands because it is seen as demeaning. If a woman opens up and explains her situation to someone, the response is always “you can’t control men,” or “it’s fine, he’s the man.” People promote and support men regardless of their actions. If this is the mentality that is forced upon people, there is no way a woman can stand up for herself. She will always fear the consequences and assume she is in the wrong.
There is an abundance of proof that men are excused for crimes they commit against women. I once watched a video of a man at a crowded carnival who grinded against a young girl around 14 years old. The girl kept ignoring it and looking up at her mom who simply moved her daughter aside and made no other move against the man. In the three minutes long video, not one person said a thing. This man was old enough to be a father. The mom did not stand up for her daughter because he is a man and she is just a woman who is in no place to speak against him.
Check yourself, check your husband, check your brother, check your son.
If you witness anyone excusing a man’s reprehensible actions just because of his gender, you need to speak up and bring a change. There is a reason why criminals evade justice. It happens when nobody speaks up. You were given a voice.
Make sure you use it.