Posts Tagged ‘Women in India’

Guest post by Zena Costa, independent mgmt sports prof & writer. 

Rage and chauvinism in Venus versus Mars can never benefit humanity as much as acceptance and understanding can. That gentlemen, is the truth.

After decades of liberation how many women can truly sing the freedom song? Where do we really stand? We are either worshipped or demeaned, placed on pedestals or shown the door. Everyday in homes where Namaz, Holy rosary or Puja are norms, a daughter is abused; a daughter in law burnt to death.

These contradictions co-exist and go almost unnoticed. The whole question of the position of today’s woman is so wonderfully confused that’s it tough to pin point where she stands. She is exploited; she is worshipped. She occupies positions yet she remains powerless. She has a strong identity but is too oft a non entity..And I bet this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

In Indian women as in myself, I sense a gradual unleashing of Shakti; Of Apurva, Sakshi, Zen – a state of mind that allows women from diverse cultures to co-exist ,bond, flourish and fly. The working woman, the working mother, the working Indian single mother today is a special breed – an economic necessity. A reality, as important as the FD and LIC, whilst her independent status has given her sense of self-worth, it does little to change societal attitude.

Despite of all the masala and curry, most Indian men can’t seem to digest independent women.

An independent, creative, free-spirited woman merely exists, if not allowed to be. NO. I’m not suggesting bra burning…but the minute a woman steps off a carefully constructed ‘pedestal’ and asks to treated as an equal the entire ‘system’ is thrown out of gear .

Women who venture beyond get a raw deal. If you happen to be a single mother it’s often a rotten one. Cheap pot shots are taken about ”liberated” women and their ”granted freedom.”

But the truth is (and prevail it shall) that with Education (not just literacy!!) women have thrown off the yoke of Subjugation; She has flown from the golden cage and opted for the long and winding road . If a self-sufficient single woman chooses to marry or have children, it’s because she wants to, and not because she HAS to. Relationships of all nature are viewed similarly.

The trap of total dependency that caged so many can now imprison only the willing. No. It ain’t a cake-walk!!

An independent woman today is like a circus artist. Its takes grit, guts, tears, hard slog. It’s a matter of fine balance , to manage and live up to expectations at home, work and society ; To apply virtues associated with each and blend all into a meaningful whole-a daunting task indeed!

To do something because you believe in it and the self and not because you are conditioned to is a step forward. It’s a positive force that needs our male counterparts’ support to be directed at over all human development. She isn’t aiming at war. She seeks meaningful dialogue, fair terms sans weighted handicaps.

” Justice for Women” is not a voice of naive female optimism. It is one of reason and logic, Its my reality. I was born as free as my brother and it is my birth-right as much as his. No, I’m not a frenzied feminist. I happen to adore men. But I stand for women.

For my grandmother’s generation life without “Pati-Parmeshawar” (husband) meant “SATI” , my mother’s generation fought long and lonely battles for mine. At least in Goa this generation saw daughters as assets and not as dowry burden, and fought tooth and nail to ensure education for both son and daughter.

Mine is the generation that has the freedom of choice, should they dare to make to make one. And dared it has, to ask for the cardinal principle of the democratic set up – Equality of Opportunity.

I have made conscious choices ,so have my ilk. Some brilliant, some disastrous with the knowledge that we have a right to go wrong sometimes, without ignoring that we take responsibility for it- our disasters and our victories.

I have come a long way since that Goa girl applying for clerical post doting over  the British-Raj who was made to under-go medical and fitness tests to gauge whether I could withstand the ”rigor of typing”. Hadn’t they heard of  ”labour?”  YUP! childbirth. I passed with flying colours and I for one hasn’t let my Goa down.

As many other women, I, in the  ‘male-bastion’ of sports writing strive hard if not harder than male counterparts.

Us women have learnt to grit our teeth and endure, and triumph we shall! We don’t ask for gender sensitive special privileges (we don’t get them even if  we did), we ask that we not be type-cast.

All we ask is a field that’s fair. This is where you guys come in. Nothing is as futile as Mars and Venus locked in battle.

Rage and chauvinism can never benefit humanity as much as acceptance and understanding can. Are you guys willing enough to allow us to walk the same road as yourself? If I can drive your car, why can’t you cook in my kitchen?

Nature meant woman to be her masterpiece. We are the wind beneath your wings. If you guys will hold our hands, We can live on this planet and together, reach for the stars whilst waltzing to the music of equality, peace, tolerance and love.


News doing the rounds today.
  1. EXCLUSIVE: Uterus removal scam unearthed in Bihar
  2. Bangalore: Father poisons 20 day-old baby to death
  3. Media houses paid money to incite rapes, suicides: Mamata Banerjee
  4. Widow paraded half-naked in Bihar by her sons, daughters-in-law

If there’s a news/issue/event we need to be aware of, kindly send us links on @JusticeForWomen or our Facebook group.

As India celebrates its 66th Independence day today, on the 15th of August, us women are still struggling for our basic Rights promised to all citizens on the eve of this day, back in 1947 by our most trusted Constitution.

Although the Preamble is not an integral part of the Indian Constitution, it is a brief introductory statement that sets the guidelines of the legal document.

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a [SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the [unity and integrity of the Nation];


For a country that is itself referred in feminine grammatical gender, its women are unsafe, unhappy, unrecognized and underpaid. “In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour,” says Gulshun Rehman, health program development adviser at Save the UK, told Reuters during a recent poll conducted by TrustLaw, a legal news service by Thomson Reuters Foundation in which India leads the pack of G20 as the worst country for women to live.

This survey was based on Countries with policies that promote safe health care, freedom of violence, women in politics, workplace opportunities, access to resources like education and poverty rights, and ending human trafficking and slavery. India was chosen as the worst based on issues of infanticide, child marriage and slavery identified by a poll of 370 gender specialists worldwide.

We all know those aren’t the only issues that cripples our nation as far as gender equality and women empowerment is concerned.

The word ‘Socialist‘ was added to our Preamble in the 42nd Amendment and it implies social and economic equality i.e.  the absence of discrimination on the grounds only of caste, colour, creed, sex, religion, or language; Under social equality, everyone has equal status and opportunities. In paper though, it sounds ideal, has it really happened?

· Female feticide, infanticide, child marriage, domestic violence, sexual violence, and sexual harassment at the work place to the treatment meted out to elderly women makes any thinking person to wonder at the nature of the society. Participation of women in the decision-making bodies be they within the home, workplace or community is marginal, never reaching even 25% of the total population of women in India.

· Women are forced to change their jobs or seek transfers on account of Sexual Harassment.

· Most of the women’s work, inside the house goes unnoticed and unremunerated. Even outside the family they remain underpaid.

· In terms of horizontal segregation, women are concentrated in low –paying positions such as secretary, typist, beautician, nurse, caregiver and assembly – line worker. “Equal work but unequal pay” is still a common practice in India’s private sector.

· According to statistics from the United Nations “Women constitute 50% of the World population, do two third of the work, get 10% of the total income and own 1% of the total assets”. While this is a global fact, the picture is much more pathetic in India.

· Children living in this environment and witnessing the differential role pattern of the man and the woman learn the lessons of gender inequality right from their childhood and the pattern is bound to continue generation after generation.

· Women constitute a significant part of the workforce in India but they lag behind men in terms of work participation and quality of employment. According to Government sources, out of 407 million total workforce, 90 million are women workers, largely employed (about 87 percent) in the agricultural sector as labourers and cultivators. In urban areas, the employment of women in the organised sector in March 2000 constituted 17.6 percent of the total organised sector.

· The existence of discriminatory laws, the fact that the laws fail to take account of rural women’s special situation, and the adherence to paternalistic and male-oriented customs which hinder the implementation of, or fill the gaps in, non-discriminatory legislation, have helped to keep rural women in a subordinate position.

Nothing could be lower than the lowest that our women go through in this country, this section of women called the ‘Valmikis‘ or the manual scavengers of dry feces that clean out public toilets. In spite of modernization, major part of India still uses traditional dry, non-flush toilets that expose these manual scavengers to many bio-hazards such as “the most virulent forms of viral and bacterial infections which affect their skin, eyes, limbs, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. TB (tuberculosis) is rife among the community,” states the UN report.

Armed only with a tin plate and broom as proper equipment to protect them from illness is not provided to them, these women pile human feces into baskets and carry on their heads for distances up to 2 miles. Often the contents drip into their hair, faces, and bodies.

The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrine Act of 1993 states that, “No person shall engage in or employ for or permit to be engaged in or employed by any other person for manually carrying human excreta; or to construct or maintain a dry latrine.

In spite of its being “illegal” the practice and use of manual scavengers continues in many low-income urban and rural parts of India today. Legal loopholes and non-enforcement of the law on manual scavenging continues in many parts of India, even as organizations protecting the rights of manual scavengers present detailed reports.

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of this nation himself stated back in 1921, “Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex (not the weaker sex).”

  • 45% of Indian girls are married before the age of 18, according to the International Centre for Research on Women (2010).
  • 56,000 maternal deaths were recorded in 2010 (UN Population Fund).
  • Research from UNICEF in 2012 found that 52% of adolescent girls (and 57% of adolescent boys) think it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife.
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau in India, there was a 7.1% hike in recorded crimes against women between 2010 and 2011.
  • The biggest leap was in cases under the Dowry Prohibition Act (up 27.7%), of kidnapping and abduction (up 19.4% year on year) and rape (up 9.2%).
  • A preference for sons and fear of having to pay a dowry has resulted in 12 million girls being aborted over the past three decades, according to a 2011 study by the Lancet.

These polls, numbers and statistics may highlight the grave situation in India, but even these cannot voice the hurt, pain, desolation, humiliation that women in our country go through everyday, to varying extent. There is a need to secure our women, give them opportunities to shine, let their voices be heard.

We do not agree to being the “weaker sex”. We do not want your charity, your pity or your security. All we need is your recognition, acceptance and respect so we can come out of the dark and live up to our full potential.

66 years down the line, we are still fighting for independence in hopes that one day it shall be ours.

Happy Independence Day to those that glide free for ours is yet to come.