What’s eating ‘Bharat Mata’?

By Ramandeep

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India, our Matra bhoomi, in pictures is shown as wearing a saree and is adorned with precious metals and revered as Bharat Mata. Behind her we see the map of India. Why did we choose to have a woman ‘represent’ our country? Is it not, in a way, ironical that we treat the women of our country in such a pathetic way and still chant ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’?

The question that I want you to ask yourself is that why, the so called, ‘weaker sex’ is in such a condition. Does it have something to do with religion or is it the norm in a patriarchal society such as ours? The census estimates, in the year 2011 that the sex ratio was 914 girls per 1000 boys from the age of 0 – 6 years. It is even worse than in 2001, where there were 927 girls per 1000 boys in India. What is the reason for this skewedness of the data? We will try to find an answer to this.

So why has the sex-ratio decreased? There are many prevailing problems in India which can answer this question. One, and probably the biggest is female infanticide. Female infanticide is the deliberate act of killing a new born female baby. Today we can check as to whether the baby is a boy or a girl. It was not the case in the post-independence years and it was not until the late 1990’s that sex determination was possible. When sex determination was introduced in India the sex ratio started to go down.

Why is this the case? Why would someone not want a female child? If we do a cost-benefit analysis of this problem, we will come up with a solution that most of the parents feel that the cost of nursing a girl is more than the benefit of it. Parents think of the future costs rather than the pricelessness of the human relation with which they are bound to each other. Furthermore, people think that daughters will get married and will go with her husband. There will be a large amount of money to be invested in the marriage of the girl too and that is why they want to evade having a girl child altogether. We Indians tend to look at the negative aspects more than at the positive ones, known as the negativity bias. Female infanticide is highest, according to some studies, in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

The other reason for the low sex ratio is the increasing violence against women. Whether it be physical, sexual or otherwise. Violence against women is on the rise. Every day there is some news related to it. When I think of this the incident of Dec 16 2012 comes in my mind, where the girl was brutally beaten on a bus and then she was raped. Thousands of protestors clashed with the police, protesting that the Delhi govt. had failed to provide for the security of women. It was only one of the many such incidents. Over 32000 murders, 19,000 rapes, 7500 dowry deaths and 36500 molestation cases are the violent crimes reported in India in 2006 against women and still there are many instances of crime especially against women going unreported in India.

Now another question arises: Can this discrimination be the by-product of kalyug, the Dark Age or is it the culmination of an ongoing process? If we analyse it fully we will see that this is not something new but it is going on for quite a while now. Sati system is one in which if the husband dies, the wife is burned alive along with her husband. In Christianity, women are excluded from heaven! Holy books such as the Quran and Bible preach discrimination against women, degradation and subjugation of women, and even violence against women! There are many other forms in which women are punished in the name of religion. One such form is stoning of a woman. In this the woman, who has committed a sin, is stoned to death. Stoning is used even today to give capital punishment to a woman. Movies such as ‘Stoning of soraya’ show us the heartless, remorseless and godless manner in which it is done. It is still followed in countries such as Afghanistan, Brunei, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Somalia. Is this act justified? And I don’t ask for any religious justification. And if justified, then to what cause?

There are many other reasons to it. Women trafficking, sale of women, prostitution etc. and I can go on to write more, but I think you get the point. I am not a traitor to my gender but I am just pointing out something that has to be dealt with.

Maybe it’s time for all of us to wake up. But it’s midnight only, why wake up at such an hour? Do you remember waking up in the middle of the night terrified of a nightmare? You would call for help and your mum would come and hold you. Well it’s time for us to wake up in a similar fashion. Its midnight, so what, you’ll be able to see the sun rise in the morning and maybe to a new era.

References:

Dehejia, V., & Subramanya, R. (2012). Indianomix: Making sense of Modern India. Noida: Random House India.

V, J. (2014, June 6). Traditional status of women in India. Retrieved from Hinduwebsite: http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_women.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoning

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