Society & Lifestyle
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Look Around You
|by Naira Yaqoob|
Can we claim to have stepped into the new millennium with the liberalization and emancipation of womenfolk to our credit? Just because the upper and middle class women have attained equal rights as enjoyed by men, are we right in assuming that all women are included among them? Is the feminist movement based on just and sound foundations and is it a possible solution to rescue and liberate women? We would be living in a fool's paradise to believe so! Open your eyes to some horrendous and unbelievable cases existing even today'
In China, due to the one-child family norm (1979), thousands of children, especially girls, were abandoned each year. Once the fetus was found to be a female, an abortion instantly followed. These rigid laws and practices have affected the women who became victims of acute psychological pressure. Such practices are going on in the present age also. Do we need to control human population at this cost?
Women are believed to be making big strides in the male-dominated Thai politics. In spite of these outward advancements and achievements, the society is still dominated by the men where having 'minor wives' is an unquestioned custom. Getting political freedom may mean a lot for some but does this signify getting the deserved status and respect in the society? Can the feminists claim this to be an actual advancement?
We blame and condemn the barbaric Arab Quraish for burying their daughters alive. But what has the modern, cultured and civilized man been doing today? He uses latest surgery and techniques like sonography and amniocentesis to abort female fetuses. Originally developed for detecting congenital abnormalities, these prenatal tests have been thriving in spite of a governmental ban. Hence, the primitive customs are still being practiced in the present world though under a different guise!
Women, even in the most advanced nations, cannot and have not escaped the possibility of being victimized by means of rapes, physical abuse or sexual harassment. In America, about 2000 rapes occur on a daily basis. These rapes render women emotionally, psychologically and physically harassed and humiliated, leaving a scar on their life history. If this is happening to the most advanced nation in the world, what to claim about the less fortunate ones? What good can political and economic freedom alone do to women when it encompasses fear and threat to the most vital aspect of the entire womankind? It is here that everything collapses for a woman.
Today's feminists encourage young women to be "strong and independent". Being strong and independent is fine as long as it is not in an excessive dosage. But women somehow get attracted towards extremism. They respond by acting and thinking like men. Feminism teaches that male and female are the same and sex roles are merely "stereotypes". As a result, millions of people are clueless or confused about their sexual identities and suffer from developmental disorders.
Feminism is a cruel propaganda, polluting the minds of the female population. It seems to be a psychological warfare strategy to depopulate and destabilize society, invented by someone. Generally, feminism has resulted in the degradation of women, family, and society. Most researchers focus on the sensational feminist issues like rapes and physical abuse. However, a major issue like child labor is ignored. According to the National sample Survey (1988), millions of girls are engaged as laborers in India. No solace is given to the self-esteem of a young girl.
The social injustice meted out to the tribal women of Bihar (India) is shocking. Whenever a misfortune hits a family or the village there, the people appoint a witch doctor called the 'Ojha' to declare any particular woman as a witch. This poor, helpless woman is subjected to immense inhuman torture and humiliation and is even stoned to death. This practice is quite usual, not only among Bihar tribal areas but also among other areas in West Bengal, Orissa, and Rajasthan. The branded 'witch' is killed or has to lead a shameful life. We usually condemn the old Hindu practice of Sati, but this is even more condemnable! As far as Sati practice was concerned, the women were no longer alive to bear the atrocities inflicted on them. Should we assume that there is no law and order intervention in these remote areas or that the tribal women are not on the mandate of women rights activists? How can we boast of development when 80% of rural and urban slum women continue to be subjected to inhuman and barbaric behavior?
In Rajasthan (India), women representatives are elected to Panchayat Committees, but just on paper. In practice, these women are the wives and mothers of the male leaders, chosen so as to be dominated by them. They are rarely involved in the election process. Moreover, women work for 18-20 hours daily! Thanks to the rapid deforestation, they have to spend more time to get even a day's fuel needs. The National Highway passing through their areas has brought diverse social evils like prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. Over 85% of womenfolk face medical problems as they are ill-treated, both physically and psychologically. There are no dowry problems but rather the bridegroom pays a 'bride price'. Thus, females are welcomed by the families; leaving no question of abortion, female infanticide, bride burning, etc. One would, but certainly, not call it development of tribal areas over the urban areas. Would we?
Girl trafficking is growing briskly, not only in developing nations but also in the developed ones. Each year thousands of Nepalese and Bangladeshi girls are sold to brothels in India by their own parents who are eager to cash in on the 'flesh-trade'. Most of these innocent girls are directed to Mumbai's thriving red light areas where they are likely to contract AIDS! This is a big business in Mumbai, generating hundreds and thousands of pounds a day for the operators. Because of this girl trafficking, Nepal has a high concentration of HIV in Asia. About 60% have been diagnosed as HIV positive! These girls can be bought for mere Rs 30 and the worst part is that except for the tips, if any, they are not allowed to keep the money they 'earn' until they have worked for 4-5 years. Parents are overjoyed if daughters are born. Should a girl be thankful for not being killed, rather for being given a chance to live and earn like this? Live?
To prevent public drunkenness, Russia had started some anti-drunkenness measures, which are rather abusive and humiliating! Women are picked for offences and are transferred from a militia car to a drink tank to sober up. This tank is nothing but a urine-drenched prison cell! The staff consisted of male workers till a complaint of rape was filled against them. The new female staff with some male drivers is no better. Women are imprisoned for 3-24 hours during which the guards manhandle them, dragging them naked towards their cell. These victims suffer from mental imbalance, humiliation, and psychic disturbances as their dignity is stripped off along with the clothes. Was there no alternative to the Russian government for preventing public drunkenness? Was implementation of a social measure necessary at the cost of the dignity of a woman- a human being after all?
Women strippers are common in the American society. Even married women play this part. The result is that morality and faithfulness hold no meaning. A woman gives herself to hundreds of men every day. She makes part of the living this way by potentially belonging to any man. She is a public property and unfit for a long-term monogamous relationship. Her youth is spent in an immoral lifestyle while she pines for a family life in old age. No matter what, a woman thrives best in the context of a loving marriage. Despite what feminism says, most women want to belong to one man, their husband. As per Michael J. Fox: 'A woman's dignity may be assaulted, vandalized, and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.' So where has the modern woman brought herself? What makes her to become a 'public property' voluntarily?
Tribal women in a Somalia desert are the backbone of Africa as they do most of the work. There is no place for unmarried girls and hence marriage is common in early age. Furthermore, a woman is considered dirty and unmarriageable unless her private parts are removed. The wound is stitched leaving only a small opening where the genitals had been. This practice, called as infibulation, is now known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). A gypsy woman is paid for this circumcision of girls, which marks their becoming a real, clean woman. Earlier, the infibulation was done at puberty, but with the passage of time, it was done at a younger age. The girls are then given rest to recuperate for a few weeks. Many girls die due to excessive bleeding, shock, infection, etc. These women have to lead a painful life in future because of this cruel, inhuman ritual. The agony, which they bear, is indescribable and this ritual itself is horrible and disgusting. Such cases have been reported even in Europe and US. This inhuman practice shows the barbaric nature of human beings that exists even today.
These cases paint such a gloomy picture of women that we forget those high-profile glamorous, famous, potential women who have provided examples of strong-mindedness, fame, and independence. It is here that we realize that the picture of a happy, carefree and independent woman is quite disillusioning until this picture represents all and that too in the right perspective. Such cases have other adverse repercussions as well. As Margaret Mitchell writes in her novel, Gone With The Wind:
Modern women should, in all their capabilities, help out those in distress, though the fate of women needs to undergo a metamorphosis by their own efforts. There is no need for chanting feminist slogans or joining women's lib. Women- you need to put forth all your capabilities, talents and strengths to make a niche for yourself in the society. This niche cannot be created in isolation or by promoting a hatred campaign against men. In reality, your power consists in being everything a man is not. Not aggressive, forceful, dynamic, muscular and driven. Men respond to vulnerability in you, not power. You need to give men the power to love you 'that power which he uses for your benefit. By doing so, you would not only do a favor to your own soul but also to the entire 'womankind'!
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