Slaves through the ages

This is the 21st century, and I am a woman who has seen the transformation from the 20th century to this one. Today, our women are progressive and empowered – they can wear anything and go out unescorted at all times of the day. They have careers, they have stepped into every profession and the disparity between men and women has been reduced. I am a progressive mother with a working daughter and a multi-tasking daughter-in-law. And yet, every day, I have to remind them to come home on time, before it gets dark.

But each time I open the newspaper in the morning and a rape and brutalization of women and girls is reported, I step back one generation. I went to co-ed school, but was not allowed to go out anywhere without my parents. My husband, father or brothers, and now my children, have accompanied me everywhere I have gone. Career to us meant just school teacher or doctor, so we could be with our children immediately after they were home from school – dignified and very limited hours. Another step behind – my mother was not very highly educated. As a child, she was one of many siblings, not many memories of her childhood. After marriage, only to accompany her husband for family occasions; otherwise, a housewife cooking and cleaning for her husband’s children and parents.

Another step back, almost going into British rule in India, were our grandmothers, who would only move out in chaddars. Childhood unlettered, mothers multiple and fathers dominating. Husband could be a wife-beater. But my grandfather was not – in fact, I have hardly ever seen them interacting or even walking together. Women were rampantly raped and kidnapped during communal riots.

I step back further in history – she was supposed to be a sati. Married as a child to a man much older, with many wives, and disposed off by her parents for the fear of even more dowry later. Beaten up by her husband, and if widowed, she was supposed to either burn in the pyre of her husband’s funeral or live the life of an outcast, untouchable all her life.

But stop – now I am talking about the time when we were slaves to the Mughals and the British. And every day, I think we haven’t progressed much. Our lewd men are still slaves of society and the organ that hangs in front of them. For them, a woman is still the object of an instinct called sexual pleasure. It’s a shame that they would not evolve with the society. And our women (or me) – I feel, when I read of an 8-month-old infant being raped, that we are still burning in the pyre of our men’s dominance. It is a shame for any society.

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