Let us not for a minute forget that we women still walk across minefields…

Starry sent me a link to this article from ‘The Hindu’ warning women against treating their legal rights and equality (that they have been so magnanimously granted) as their rights. (Author : Lakshmi Visweswaran)

My response in red.

Having struggled hard to obtain legal means to break free from male dominance and depravity, are we women today at the point of endangering those very means?

It’s not ‘we women‘ against ‘them men‘. Patriarchy is the problem, not ‘Male dominance and depravity‘. Although Patriarchy appears to empower men, it actually allows a few men and women to control the lives of most others.

I myself am a strong believer in the equality of men and women and the right of every woman to lead a life of respect and self-dignity.

Why just women? Everybody, including men and children deserve ‘to lead a life of respect and dignity‘.

Yet, we cannot forget that we live in what is even today a male-dominated society.

The so called ‘Male Dominated’ society does not create happy male members either.  Patriarchy allows a few to control the personal lives of many, for their personal gain, and generally with excuses like ‘family honor’ or ‘has always been done this way’. Patriarchy does not respect individual rights or happiness of those it does not empower, which is why it has failed to protect basic human rights of baby girls, female fetuses, girl children, senior citizens without male children, victims of sexual abuse and rape, victims of domestic violence, widows and single women etc.

Women have had to struggle and fight male egoism at every step to get even a few benefits like the above legal provisions on our statute.

The society struggles against set norms that have become a habit (customs). Those who benefit from the biases are resisting the changes. E.g. Khap Panchyat and those who get caregivers through the Joint Family System.  It’s much more than ‘male egoism’.

The bill seeking 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies was passed in the Rajya Sabha this year, after almost 14 years of its introduction, and it is anybody’s guess when it will be implemented.

A lot of men support the bill, if only to bring their female relatives (along with their male relatives) into politics… (my views…)

A shield

The modern Indian woman with her new-found economic, social and political independence is no doubt kicking to break free from the fetters of subjugation and subordination which have haunted her since time immemorial.

Many Indian women have no idea that they are as equal as anybody else, they  believe abuse is a part of a woman’s life. Some other Indian women  have every opportunity to grow and they knows their rights. Many other Indian women are ‘allowed education’ but warned against ‘forgetting their limits’ or thinking they are ‘too equal’ – it’s possible that this Indian woman gives the impression that she is ‘kicking to break free from the fetters…’. Her inevitable though slow successes seems to worry those who fear change.

In this uphill task, she has to learn to use the law as a shield to protect herself and not as a weapon to attack. A handful of women are forgetting that any relationship, whether marital or otherwise, is not about who has the upper hand but about who complements the other and how.

Most of the Indian society has always been about ‘upper hand‘ and ‘control’. A handful of women today are able to see they need not accept that as a rule.

Unfortunately today, aggressiveness has somehow become synonymous with “assertiveness” so much so that there are women who do not hesitate to file an FIR with the police or knock on the doors of the courts at the drop of a hat.

Most women do not knock of the doors of the court even when they have every reason to. Their families and the societies warns them against being seen as aggressive.

A heated discussion or disagreement, a refusal by the husband to allow his wife to wear western clothes or go out with friends, some chiding by the in-laws could all easily be labelled as cruelty by some women and, with enough stoking by unscrupulous advocates, this snowballs into a legal battle which leaves nothing but a bitter taste and an empty purse.

Until recently, a refusal to allow his wife to wear western clothes/meet her friends  was seen as a husband’s and his family’s right. If husbands and their families do not accept that they can’t control an equal citizen’s life, even if she happens to be the lowest in the Patriarchal hierarchy, perhaps they need some counseling along with/before police custody.

Still a minority

No doubt, such women still form a minority, yet no one can overlook the harm they may inadvertently be causing to a large number of Indian women, who genuinely need the law to help them find a way out of their miserable and pathetic situations; also, many a time it is an escape route from what has become to them a living hell.

A law being misused is not a reason for depriving victims of a legal recourse. This is a much needed law. A society that still thinks a wife should not mind if her husband does not allow her to wear Western clothes or to meet her friends, needs such laws even more urgently.

With more and more cases of abuse of women-centric legal provisions, the day may not be far off when the same men who conceded our reasonable demands start re-thinking.

It’s not men verses women. Nobody needed to ‘concede’ “our” demands. Law-making is not about magnanimity. If a wrong was being done, if unfair advantage was being taken, it was time to put an end to it. The society will take time to accept women as decision makers in their own lives. The law – unlike unwritten customs, can be reviewed, challenged or made stronger through legal processes. As of now social norms seem to undo a lot of good that laws begin to do.

With the joint family concept having become a thing of the past and with family ties getting weaker by the day, the need is for the establishment of several more counselling centres in colleges, offices, hospitals and even in courts.

The slow end of Joint Family is the beginning of the end of Patriarchy. It is a much needed change. The end of Joint Family will also be the beginning of respect for  female children – the unwanted liability, the paraya dhan in the Joint Family. It might also bring relief to the parents and families of girl children – they may find they can hope to see their children living with respect, self confidence, dignity, equality, love and safety.

These must be manned by trained professionals who have in-depth knowledge of human psychology and behavioural patterns. People, especially youngsters, must be encouraged to seek the help of such centres.

People of all ages might need counseling.  The damage that the Joint Family system or Patriarchy has done to the society will be more difficult for the older generation to understand, because this is the only way of life that they might have seen.

In fact, all family disputes should be taken up only after it has been certified by a counsellor that the case is beyond counselling.

No ‘certified counsellors’ should be allowed to become the middle men between a citizen and their right to justice. There is also a risk of the counselors being bribed.

Parents, family members and close friends can mediate and help the couple identify their actual problems and assist them in solving their issues amicably.

This is exactly what was being done for centuries. Girls were being sent back to adjust and many die adjusting even today. The law was made to protect women from such families and in laws. Patriarchy does not value it’s female members and through centuries the counselling they received has amounted to asking them to ‘Please adjust‘.

Advocates also have a major role, for they can make women see the futility of their case and advise them accordingly, instead of stoking the embers into inferno.

Why should advocates make women think they have no hope? Why should it be  assumed that what women are complaining against is not important? Taking a woman’s case seriously is not ‘stoking embers into inferno’ – it is making sure that she is not made into an inferno.

Compromises

Lastly, women themselves have the power to make or break their future.

Unfortunately they don’t. When they try to help themselves they are warned against the ‘unknown devils’ and lawyers who might stoke the embers of their unreasonable demands into infernos – the only way to be taken seriously is to agree to sacrifice their happiness.

The modern Indian woman should not forget that every form of relationship calls for some give and take.

Indian women are taught that the ‘give is for daughter in law’ (only future, no options, sacrifice, serve, adjust, honor etc), and the ‘take is for the husbands and their families’ (dowry, ladke wale, can divorce and remarry etc).

Small compromises or adjustments need not be misunderstood as signs of suppression.

Examples of small compromises? Eating when everyone has eaten? Taking permission to work, having children and taking decisions for these children, meeting friends, wearing salwar kameez or jeans, walking without covering one’s head…?

No woman should ever suffer cruelty or harassment of any form silently.

But having to take permission to work, study, dress comfortably, save or earn, meet friends & birth family  – is not harassment.

Yet, before rushing to court, let her ponder over and see if it is indeed her rights that have been trampled upon or it is just her ego that has taken a beating.

Being ‘disallowed’ from working, having female children, meeting friends, wearing jeans, eating with the family, spending what they earn, visiting their parents etc should be seen as a trampling of ego?

And being beaten (only if they didn’t ask for it) should be seen as a trampling of rights?

Women have traditionally been discouraged from having anything that might pass off as ego.

For, let us not for a minute forget that we women still walk across a minefield and if we do not tread carefully, there is every chance of the mines blowing up not just our lives but also the future of women.

The only minefields women need to fear are the minefields of old habits and social conditioning. And the way to avoid these mine fields is by boldly  knocking at the court’s doors if they in their own judgment (which is as good as any other adult family or community member) feel they are unhappy.There are some who fear that empowerment of women might mean a change in the system and those who comfortable with an old system (Known Devil Syndrome) assume any change can only be bad.

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61 thoughts on “Let us not for a minute forget that we women still walk across minefields…

  1. Ha! As soon as women start asking for more than what society is willing to give, we become “too” demanding. So, it’s ok to be allowed to work, but only in jobs that let us be back home by 5; it’s ok to be allowed to buy our own clothes with our own money, but only Indian clothes that don’t offend sensibilities; it’s ok to talk to the husband in a friendly manner but not to call him by name. GAH!

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  2. Thanks so much for this. Would you also send your riposte to The Hindu? The writer badly needs to see it. What’s really dispiriting about the article is the reactionary view dressed up as a voice of reason.

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    • Same thoughts..

      To add to what Jeanne already said, why should it be ok if the ego of a woman takes a beating.. or why is it not seen as a loss of dignity and freedom for her?

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  3. At times I feel that we are the pioneers. We are the ones forging the path for future women. Vested interests – both the male dominant ones and the custom oriented ones attack us. Our encouragement also comes sadly from women and political forces who have vested interests, but ultimately it is our generation that bears the brunt. We get abused, lampooned and attacked

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  4. Hi IHM, I think your response to “The shied” was the one which covers most women of India. This is so very common I think. I appreciate your analytical thinking abilities to stand against stereotypical thoughts.

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  5. There was also a nice article just above this one on how patriarchy works. They were trying to get two opposing viewpoints on the same page, I think. Was trying to find that article to put up to try and identify how it affects me in daily life but got side tracked.

    Do look that article up too. Was a good one. More on the lines of what we all mostly believe in.

    The only thing I will take away from this article is that people can’t use things to hurt when it is meant to get one onto a level playing field. I can’t condone a woman friendly law being used as a whip – there are men whose rights have been trampled by this law too. Obviously smaller in number but still, the principle of it gets me. Gender equality is critical and while I will fight fiercely to protect the woman, I can’t condone men being unfairly accused either – by women. And that has to be simultaneous – not ‘let the women be okay first and then we can worry about the men’.

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  6. Wonderful analysis IHM! It is posts like this which make me frequent your blog. Thank you.

    “Until recently, a refusal to allow his wife to wear western clothes/meet her friends was seen as a husband’s and his family’s right.” I disagree, this is not something of the past but is still happening for a good percentage of young Indian brides.

    The original article points out the possible repercussions if the law is misused, but I guess what went wrong is that its written rooted in patriarchy. Misuse of law have no gender bias. I dont believe men are more prone to file false claims than women or vice versa. It is done by ‘persons’ with vested interest.

    Me – I agree… misuse of law has nothing to do with gender, it’s done by persons with vested interest.

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  7. Lady,

    You are already being anonymous in this blog. Then why having ‘comment moderation’? Are you not interested in people leaving their own opinions posted without your assent? If you have fear about spams, you should have your captcha activated. Having comment moderation on is discouraging.

    Thanks!

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    • Dear “Sensible”,

      I note that even you are anonymous!

      Regards,
      G Vishwanath
      (A non anonymous reader of this blog, who has no issues with the blogger remaining anonymous as long as the content is of high quality)

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  8. My favorite part was:

    A heated discussion or disagreement, a refusal by the husband to allow his wife to wear western clothes or go out with friends, some chiding by the in-laws could all easily be labelled as cruelty by some women

    So how come we can be ‘allowed’ or ‘disallowed’ to wear something or go somewhere and how come chiding is ok? It takes only one such woman to get us all down! And to think that The Hindu published it! I was fuming this morning, I read this post and the article as soon as I got up and I was reading it out to my husband, and he was not surprised at my reaction. LAKSHMI VISWESWARAN might think we are empowered enough and we should be thankful for that but we all live for a day when we really don’t have to think about differences at all!

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  9. IHM, only you have to patience and the even-temperedness to reason with people who write such addle-brained tripe. What exactly is Lakshmi Visweswaran trying to imply? That since the laws in question are meant to protect Indian women, we should, all half a billion of us, solemnly give an undertaking to the government and parliament that no possesor of XX chromosomes would be allowed to misuse the laws? Does Ms Visweswaran have even a rudimentary understanding of legal processes? Does she know that all laws are misused, not just the ones against dowry and domestic violence? Should we repeal the entire penal code just because a small fraction of litigators misuse the law? I rememeber reading an article that said that worldwide, only about 2% of all cases filed actually misuse the law.

    It irritates me no end that all discussion about false charges is invariably about how the anti-dowry and domestic violence laws are being misused. Has anybody ever studied what the proportion of false cases is for other laws, for examply, property law or inheritance law? And how come no one is distressed by that?

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    • What else could she say? It was to show an alternative view point and I bet there wasn’t one man brave enough/willing to write it! 😀

      With all due respect, the fact that all laws are misused is not a valid argument in my book. All laws should not be, not ‘they all do it, so what’s the big deal?’ And honestly, I expect better of women myself. I know we are capable of taking the high ground AND making sure that our rights are upheld.

      A bunch of men are protesting this law, asking for it to be gender insensitive. What would a friendly stance be then? Support this protest or fear that it can be misused against the woman?

      By the way, I don’t like the article or agree with the meat of it – the only takeaway I got from it (since I was working hard to get at least one!) was that the misuse of the law is not okay.

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      • @Sangita,
        Abuse of law, is a very thing line to walk on. Abuse of all laws is plausible, none is 100% fool proof. So how to make sure they are not abused; make them accessible to common people, make it cheap, make it quick and get the middlemen out. Now coming to your question, which law are we talking about?

        The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005

        It is already gender neutral to a very great extent. The definition of abuse is inclusive. It protects women from spousal violence but from other women (a DIL cannot get an MIL /SIL thrown out of house nor can they do that), disabled men and women from their family members irrespective of their gender, it also applies to older relatives who are often abused for property. It is a civil remedy, so the chances of abuse of law are only as much as in a civil case related to property dispute. Will women be able to abuse it? Only as much they can abuse the property law, because they rarely have property and means to buy goons and lawyers.

        It is just like the question will the educated women make chapatis and do dishes? It is doubtful so let us not educate them.

        This civil remedy gives immediate relife to the abused, the abuser is restrained and cannot throw her out of the matrimonial home. Where as in a criminal Law (498A) the abused has wait until the court decides if the abuse actually took place. Then court can send the abused to jail if proven guilty. There was no provision to protect the woman or keep the roof over her head in the criminal case. She had to again file for a civil suit for damages and roof.

        If he is sent to jail the woman and her children are without rent money. Women basically wanted the abuse to stop not send their men to jails. To prevent the jail time the woman was told only opetion was she withdrew the complain. When she withdrew the complain, in legal language it is called quashed (admavaku, false claim). This meant she had filed a false complaint based on a misunderstanding so she is withdrawing it. This also meant she was accepting she is a liar. This is how the concept of false filing of 498A against husband and his kin came about.

        How did 498A become a dowry law? Read the part in purple below the post http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/how-to-help-an-abused-2/

        The woman was not lying but as the law did not have another option she was made into a liar. It is like YES/NO question where as we lead our lives in between YES and NO.

        DV against women is a reality and it is a continuous reality. In this case even if she withdrew the complaint she wasn’t lying, violence did take place. Now if she went back with another complaint on another occsssion she was remineded, in the past she had made similar false complaint so she is not trust worthy and if she is complaining she was abused then it is not true. Either way the woman lost.

        What will a man do if he is being abused (physically beaten by his female spouse) file for relife under the same law. He will be provided with the same remedy. He will not be thrown out of the house, nor will his wife be but she will be restrained from hurting him.
        The question is will this same man complain against his own mother or sister who constantly barage him with emotional abuse or disturb is marital peace? Though the law gives him a right but he’ll not use it agaist his own kin.

        Peace,
        Desi Girl

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  10. While it is true that abuse of any law should be discouraged, why is the onus on the woman to ‘behave’ and why does the author keep talking as if women’s rights were ‘bestowed’ upon us and it is the male prerogative to take them away from us should it seem like we are not behaving? Also, the following statement takes us back to the 60s and 70s:

    A heated discussion or disagreement, a refusal by the husband to allow his wife to wear western clothes or go out with friends, some chiding by the in-laws could all easily be labelled as cruelty by some women

    Why should it be OK for a husband to ‘allow’ or ‘disallow’ the wife to wear something or go somewhere. How many times have we kept an eye on what men wear and where they go? Why then is a woman’s attire and social movement such a topic of outrage? A man’s ego gets hurt and that is a valid cause of strife in the family but a woman’s hurt ego is not? When we stop talking about what women can and should do and start talking about how human beings need to treat each other is when the real emancipation of women would have happened. Until then we will have people like Ms. Visweswaran bringing us down.

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  11. It is the so-called advocates of limited feminism that make things hard for women everywhere. Everyone has their own tolerance levels. Simply because some women are able to tolerate more they actively tell everyone that this should be the threshold for everyone. This sort of “same-side goal” attitude is not just counter-effective; it’s destructive.

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    • ” tolerate more ” should be translated as –
      threshold levels of abuse is Very high . on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest and she ranks at 11.

      self esteem is ZERO. 0.0

      confidence is called as arrogance


      right is called as ” hum ladkiya hai”. aise baat nahi karna chaiye. we should be happy with whatever we get. That is exactly the reason why women are lesser paid than men even if they get the same position and level in the company.

      Responsibilites is translated as ” we are getting jobs and we should be happy with that. In some professions they want women more because they can be pressured to keep a low profile. Next time the boss will say, Are you on break. You are talking too much near the water cooler. etc etc.

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      • DG has just invented marital tolerance scale. She needs help in testing it. All comments writers and bloggers are requested to extend a hand in testing and standardizing it.

        1-4 cuss word to you and your family from your spouse and his family are to be considered non issue.

        5-10 cuss word to you and your family from your spouse and his family are to be considered tolerable.

        11-15 cuss word to you and your family from your spouse and his family are to be considered uncomfortable- now you can open your mouth and argue.

        16-20 cuss word to you and your family from your spouse and his family are to be considered intoleraable- now you can go to the court.

        Same can be applied to how many times you were prevented from visiting your parents, friends or wearing something you prefered.

        1-4 slaps are a non issue.
        5-10 slaps are tolerable.
        11-15 slaps resulting in bruises ad cuts- now it is your right to open your mouth and say please don’t hit me.
        16-20 slaps if they knock you unconscious then it is intolerable, now pick your broken bones go to a doctor, get some pictures done and report to police.

        Let us all test and standardize this tool and then document the occurances in our dialy lives and then raise collective hell.

        Those with DG say Aye…

        Peace,
        Desi Girl

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  12. When women start Talking , parents shut their door. Mine did.
    When women start Talking, parents-in-law shut their door. Mine did.
    When women start Talking, my husband is happy for me, And will not be the mediator, even if it helps. They do not like their wives ” talking ” ( enough. stop that abuse) to their parents.
    When women start Talking, other women relatives in the family say STOP- you are jeopardising our position in the family.
    When women started talking in management in India the boss chided on more for restrain.

    only when I came to the US – my boss said” go for it “

    When women start knocking doors for support, they are threatened and stopped mid way in their tracks.
    When I talked about womens rights as a teenager and and later on asking for rights and responsibilities as a young adult, I was “controlled” more by parents and even the boys who were friends said, “tera pati ka halat kharab hone wala hai”. It needs a very special human being to appreciate her, her sense of justice and ethics and wants to get out of the support zone to empower others – both other men and women to appreciate their fellow beings.

    It is not about women, I am just asking you to treat as a human. And still families snub, abuse, condemn and condense her, – ONLY to to have their ego inflated.

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  13. As “girls guide to survival” suggested in one comment – Let’s expand our horizons – we should start moving out of writing views and opinions to each other and move courts and laws. ” I second that.

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    • social MOVEMENTS creates LAWS.
      Find out who in India is interested in moving a change in law. I don’t know. Do you? Approach like minded people.
      Write a letter. Put signatures. No Phone Nos But Email address for contact and to show they are genuine.
      You need NUMBERS TO put laws in place.
      And I think schools should start a subject on Know your rights from class 9th onwards. ( enough of that moral science classes ) I think it would help a long way.

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  14. A tip for the women who go to police stations.

    1. Dress well.
    2. state your case. Be assertive.
    3. Insist on reading the FIR before signing it.
    4. take a copy.

    This goes everywhere – if you speak assetively ( being assertive means NOT RUDE) and insist on your thing . it gets done 99 times of 100 .

    Befriend women lawyers. There are tons out there willing to help and give tips. And know your rights as indicated in the law. Most often these laws are available to us. they push us around if we do not know our rights – this happens in every country. And please pay these lawyers – they also need their bread and butter. Ask them , How much shall I pay for your time and services. She spent time to learn all this . So pay her as well. if you want to be paid for your services , pay the lawyer too – she also has a roof to keep over her head

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  15. What is wrong with The Hindu? First that article about zoning out in front of the latest Wii/etc being family bonding, and now this.

    From what I have seen, it is in areas off the map, deep in the hinterlands, there is serious levels of abuse of women. Those women (even if a small %) really benefit from these laws when they are made aware of them – they don’t even need to go to court, just the knowledge that these exist is often enough to give them the courage to say NO and to deter their husbands/families.

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    • Choxie, it’s true…I’m rather aghast to find these articles in The Hindu.

      I think the percentage of women benefiting is very high, not just in the hinterlands, it’s happening even in smaller and bigger cities. And precisely, it does act as a deterrent to a big extent.

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  16. “With more and more cases of abuse of women-centric legal provisions, the day may not be far off when the same men who conceded our reasonable demands start re-thinking.”

    This takes the cake. ‘men who conceded our reasonable demands’! Conceded?? A supposedly ‘reasonable demand’ has to be ‘conceded’ by one gender to another?? Oh wow. ‘Or else what?? It will make them ‘re-think’. Oh wow wow. Re-think and…??!! So the assumption still is that we should be grateful for what’s been given us, not that it is our right?!!

    Such articles make me feel sick.

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  17. I am with Choxbox. Just the fact that there are laws and the fact that women are aware itself, will be deterrent enough – in a lot of cases. Of course, there are/will be misuse of laws. That is a separate issue altogether. That has more to do with law enforcement in our country. If people knew that misuse of laws/perjury etc would have severe penalties, people(men and women) would be less likely to try to misuse laws. Just because a small percentage of women misuse laws, does not mean that the laws need to be changed.

    Also, plenty of men misuse laws as well – but they are not categorized as ‘male’ misuse of laws, is it? I can’t help wonder why!

    The sad thing is that all women want is to have the same rights as men – equality of treatment. And it is made out as if all the ills in society are down to women becoming aware of their rights.

    The tone of the article which suggests that we should be ‘thankful’ for what we have, is also very annoying. Especially in a country like India, where the percentage of women who truly own their lives is so minsicule.

    IHM, Your answers make so much sense! I just wish the author of this article could read this post.

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  18. “For, let us not for a minute forget that we women still walk across a minefield and if we do not tread carefully, there is every chance of the mines blowing up not just our lives but also the future of women.”

    Future of women and men are inextricably interwoven on Planet Earth. If there are minefields (figuratively and literally), it certainly won’t distinguish between man and woman when stepped upon. Either of them have to be careful on how and where they step, or else, both lose out.

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  19. Violence and discrimination against women, exist everywhere from U.S. to Japan. Problem in India, is lack of sensitivity when such cases come to light. Male chauvinistic minds try to fault the women, even if she is the victim. Indian mainstream media has played a proper role in highlighting crimes against women. India needs more high-profile convictions, for people to get the message.

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  20. Let us for a change change the gender and discuss what is frivolous or not

    1. A husband seeking divorce because he is not allowed to work by his wife
    2. A husband seeking divorce because his wife tells him what to wear, which friends he should meet and how many times in a year he can go to his parents place.
    3. A husband seeking divorce because his ILs and his wife regularly bash up his family and upbringing.

    In all the above cases, would the counselor ask the husband to go and “adjust” ??

    For all these case, if you feel sympathy for the husband then why do you change your answer when the husband is replaced by wife in those sentences?

    Maybe some people seek divorce for reasons that may seem frivolous to you, but the fact remains that this person is unhappy in the marriage and needs out. Why should that person suffer just because you have a different tolerance level. Maybe someone is asking for a divorce because their spouse snores. Will keeping them married make a happy marriage?

    I think we need to get out of other people’s lives and especially their bedrooms.

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    • 2. and 3. have applied to me and to other men I know. Likely to apply in future also. We adjust.

      as far as 1. is concerned it is present but the other way round: its about

      not bringing in *enough pay*
      not having 42″ LED TV
      not owning cars of Hyundai Accent or greater stature
      not going overseas for vacations, only in India

      I have news for any woman here who thinks its fun to hear this stuff on a regular basis.
      Its NOT.

      Btw we adjust onlee 🙂

      thanks,
      Jai

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  21. It is such a patroniziing article. Of the sort, “well you have equal rights, now shut up and stay in your place”! IHM, I would have yelled and torn the newspaper! A very well written response too.

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  22. Desi Girl,

    I am not sure that you got what I said. I said we need laws and that the only thing she could have said as an writer asked to write the other viewpoint is that it can be abused.

    The Act is abused and not only in civil ways – imprisonment and criminal liability is also involved. And that is what people use to argue this. A non-bailable offense that cannot be resolved privately. The people who abuse it are not women who quash the complaint. The section says ‘husband or the relative of the husband of women’ and is clearly not gender insensitive.

    And while no law is fool proof, I will stand up and say that I cannot condone any being abused. Because the abuse of laws can only be stopped in the social domain, not in the legal one. As it is with the root cause of abuse everywhere – mindsets are what need to change. This article also proves the need for mindset change.

    Peace.

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    • Wow. Downvoted again! and I’ve tried to set it right again.

      Guys I have to stop reading this space. Though infrequently, ppl do approach me for advice or counsel- mostly only men. My specialty is I try too see the PoV of the party not present, which perhaps explains why I dont get pinged for advice too often – I dont mitigate or excuse serious problems but certainly dont provide haan-mein-haan milaaying grudge amplification services 🙂

      On these threads, I saw at least 2 cases, one lady signing in as Maya on the CW thread and another whose details I dont recall, that I would unambiguously say should exit their current state of affairs. Perhaps I have missed a few but most others could likely work it out in my opinion. I leave it to them of course where they go and how.

      However I see a spate of “why shd we take the other PoV” “what abt my happiness” and even “snoring is enough cause for breakup”. I confess to being a “compromisist”. Having had a full dose of these threads, I sense a hardening of my own stands. I nearly advised a guy with just

      Me: “are you happy?”
      He: ” well …. other than X,Y,Z I told you abt and A,B,C from last time…”
      Me: “No… no. Just Are you happy?”
      He: ” um…. the inlaws are like [—–] but maybe…”
      Me: “You’re not listening. Are you HAPPY?”
      He: “What’s come over you boss?”
      Me: (blinking) “I dunno. *I* need a break….”
      He: “You sure do”.

      So here I am. Taking a break. good bye and good luck 🙂

      thanks,
      Jai
      PS: Let me note in parting that this article, the OP, is mostly crap esp the bits abt conceding demands etc.

      Like

      • @Jai_C,

        Start charging a fee for your counsel and see the requests dropping. 🙂

        …even “snoring is enough cause for breakup”…

        Heard it 20 years ago that in America divorces happen over snoring. Wao, the story is still in circulation. Did anyone go into the details of that divorce. The case was about husband’s refusal to seek medical help and there were lot of other issues going on in that marriage that nobody talks about but harps on “a woman sought divorce because of snoring.” Snoring was one of the causes mentioned “not the only” cause.

        What ever the PoV of the otherside all has to begin with considering everyone is human and deserves respect and peace just as much you. No tradition, culture or relationship should obliterate a person’s right to peaceful existence. You don’t have to like a person to consider them human.

        There is no word “compromisist” it is compromiser or believer in compromise.

        Peace,
        Desi Girl

        Like

  23. When I first read the article, the author’s words almost had me hoodwinked for a second. Then I started boiling at her condescending attitude that controlling a woman’s choices is not cruelty. Which century is she in?

    This is the same old attitude we face so often we don’t realise how demeaning it is. “What does she think of herself?” “Just because you have freedom and some laws, don’t misuse it.” “Don’t act too smart.” Why should women be held to higher standards???

    After centuries of patriarchy and male privilege, it’s just been a few decades since the idea that women are people too. So we are graciously granted some freedom and some laws are made for our protection…with that benevolent patriarchal finger wagging in our faces…”get it right quickly woman, be perfect, don’t goof up, we’re watching and can take it all away anytime.”

    So then we have the conclusions, by men and women still loyal to patriarchy and seeking to re-establish its stronghold. When a woman driver has an accident, they snicker and say, “See, women can’t drive.” When a young woman elopes with her classmate, they say, “Tut-tut, her father allowed her to study and see how she misuses it.” When a woman boss is not ‘feminine’ enough for their liking, they spread stereotypes about women bosses. When a ‘modern’ woman is harrassed or raped, they say “pub culture, shameless clothes, indecent behaviour.” When a handful of women file false claims, they say what this author said. And let’s not forget the men who are also liberated from patriarchy. Any man who stands up for a woman’s rights…God help him.

    Limited feminism (loved this term, Careless Chronicles) doesn’t work. They cannot say to us, “This far and no further or else we’ll get back to the old ways.” They’re still trying very hard to keep the old ways alive. And your sentence expresses it perfectly. Old habits and social conditioning are the real minefields.

    Like

  24. Quote:
    Let us not for a minute forget that we women still walk across minefields…
    Unquote:

    Your title brought back memories of sick joke.

    A Indian tourist to Vietnam noticed that when couples walked in the villages, the woman walked ahead and the man followed some distance behind.

    The visitor was impressed. Back home in Indian villages the man always walked ahead and the woman followed him faithfully and demurely.

    The tourist complemented his host on the progressive custom in Vietnam.
    The bubble soon burst when he was told the reason.
    The village still had mines left over from the Vietnam War years.
    The husband was taking no chances!

    Sorry to digress from the seriousness of the discussion but I just could not prevent myself from recounting this old sick joke.

    Regards
    G Vishwanath

    Like

    • Oops!
      Didn’t read my comment carefully before posting.

      Corrections:
      Please read:

      “a sick joke ” , for “sick joke”
      “An Indian tourist” for “A Indian tourist”
      “complimented” for “complemented”

      My old English grammar teacher would have twisted my ears if she had read this.

      Regars
      G Vishwanath

      Like

  25. equality is important and 498 A males should be given this right.
    there is no harm and fear when someone is honest and good
    problem is we do not have equality , equality is only there on paper.

    Like

  26. I was witht he author of the article until this “A heated discussion or disagreement, a refusal by the husband to allow his wife to wear western clothes or go out with friends, some chiding by the in-laws could all easily be labelled as cruelty by some women and, with enough stoking by unscrupulous advocates, this snowballs into a legal battle which leaves nothing but a bitter taste and an empty purse. “.

    Jeez Louise. Are we sure that the author is a woman and not a man writing under a psuedonym?

    It is indeed cruelty dear Laksmi. No need to label it!

    Like

    • Again, maybe “Lakshmi” could easily be a guy. (Notice how I refrain from saying a “man”? Because according to me, a “man” is someone who would not even dream of writing that sentence.) I think in south india it could also be a guy’s name.

      Like

  27. Good post and good comments. A society trying to be just should have separate provisions for the ‘weaker or disadvantaged’ sections. In India women,backward classes,religous and linguistic minorities disabled etc are disadvantaged and special considerations are justified for them. Though I know few men who were unjustly crucified due women friendly laws I also know that hundreds of women continues to suffer injustice due to patriarchy. Abuse of Law should not be an excuse for repealing the Law. When society develops into more equitable one,when such laws becomes irrelevant, then only laws protecting the disadvantaged should be removed.

    Like

  28. Very well written response. I recently came across an incident in the our family circle where a girl from a conservative family was married to a city bred guy. The girl was comfortable in saris and would insist on wearing only saris. The husband was very upset with this, he considered his wife not modren enough in saris and insisted that she should wear salwars and jeans. After intial resistance the wife finally gave in and started wearing clothes that would please her husband. The wife is now very comfortable in her so called modern clothes, but intially struggled to get used to it. Whether its burkha or bikini’s women have always been made to clothe themseleves to please men and articles like this only reinforce men’s perceived right to interfer with women’s way of dressing. Women need to dress as per their comfort and liking and no one should compel them to dress in a way that makes them uncomfortable whether its a bikini or a burkha!!

    Like

  29. Women of a joint family have too much of company so their problem is usually that they want to be alone. Then this enforced aloneness makes you feel sorry for yourself as you feel unwanted..This is mostly the case with women whose husbands remain very busy with their work. Women feel that such husbands have a choice and if they wanted they could spend time with them.

    Like

  30. Pingback: When Discipline Becomes Abuse : Why I need Feminism | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  31. Pingback: An email: “He got very aggressive and even started pulling the loosened muscles of my abdomen (post preg) very hard” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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