Patriarchy Too is Terrorism !

An article on Lahore blasts I came across recently said how Pakis train their students right from their infancy on religious hatred.

But such seems to be the bane, not just of  Pakistan, but of every civilisation. Take for instance the great country called India. Where women are worshipped as goddesses, put on pedestals, adorned with gold and flowers and bowed to. WOW, what a sight. Back at home, the flesh-and-blood counterparts of the feminine clay models are thrashed and abused. The more modest men would take it on as their duty to make their women (especially wives; the men are kinder to their mothers, sisters and daughters) guilty of being themselves. The educated, ‘well-bred’ among the men would clip their women’s wings to fit the ‘cultured, educated yet traditional’ mould leaving them panting for a breath of fresh air.

Fortunately or not, there is a group being groomed who understand the hypocrisy. Aravind Adiga seems to be one such. His booker-winner, ‘The White Tiger’ is a sweeping take on real India. Not the incredible one, begging for tourists and outsourcing work but the rusty, ragged and fiercely devoid of the ‘values’ that it otherwise flaunts. It talks of that India where a square meal a day is a luxury for say, at least 50 per cent of its inmates. And that, is a very low estimate. For it to be the India that exists in Bangalore and other cities flaunting the wealth of malls, the real India has to traverse light years. Well, almost. An entrepreneur is the protagonist here, the average illiterate, rustic Indian, who begins his life as a ne’er-do-well, a tea-stall worker, a son-of-an Indian bitch, who dies in the dignity that she was denied when alive. The part where the woman’s death is described is touching and reflects the state of Indian women–the rustic, the illiterate, the bred-to-be firewoods. As I said before, their clay counterparts are worshipped during festivals and prayed to for wealth, faith, fertility and even liberation. Afterall, isn’t India the land of the goddesses and as Adiga says of thirty five million asses of Gods.

Adiga also writes to the Chinese premier who,  in his land, unleashes the same terror, especially among women in Tibet. There are many Tibetan women who fled the land of their birth fearing torture from the Chinese forces. One such is a woman, now living in Auroville, who was transported to India when 9 months old. Her mother was shot dead, when alone at home by the forces. And this is one mild a story. China is also the region where women were treated since days of yore, though not of India’s magnitude, like horse dung.

Adiga’s book has much more on India, its class and creed differences. The women part, however, is the most interesting and hence taken in this article to illustrate more on the subject. And it is also to show that women’s issues in India cannot be rounded off in stupid numbers. It is far beyond, and exists more at the psychological realm. And thats why when men (and also women) in India hear the word ‘Gender’, they say, “Oh, isn’t it a western word. Does Gender exist here?”

Women are traiditonally, psychologically and socially expected to play a slave, for otherwise she wouldn’t be a woman. It is natural that a woman is confined to home and the kitchen, for without her home wouldn’t be complete. And it is also natural that she is shouted at, asked to compromise and sacrifice herself and her dreams for then she could expect a place alongside the goddesses, who were blood-sucking warriors or rebels in their own right. She is expected to study and get good grades, but after an age, she shouldn’t dream of a career or an independent spirit, for then she would be a slut. She could watch TV but when it came to representing her on public space, she got just 14 per cent of news space on TV, of which only 7 per cent was hard news (UN estimates as per a 1994 survey). Even those women who were shown taking on the world of men in terms of education and work space were portrayed as ambitious, with weepy personal life and children thoroughly wayward. The nice ones were the mute, fully clad, religious and submissive, who are waiting to hear the gunshot to jump into the pyre of their existence. And sad part is, majority of women in India, too, are bred in this way. They feel they deserve to be abused, illtreated (whatever magnitude that is of) and deprived of human dignity just because they are born a woman.

I would think it is more of a psychological disorder, and hence gender issues are tougher to deal with in India, much like religious fanaticism is in Pakistan.  And this is where the article from the Pak blog told a familiar story. The difference is the terror-hit can shout out their troubles, whereas women in India dare not open their mouth –  for then, they would be social outcasts, or worse, criminals.

— Aparna

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