So I blogged about how if we Don’t treat the Cause, the Problem (Skewed Gender Ratio) will never go.
But is it too much to expect any social changes in a society that seems to take pride in some of it’s ills?
The truth is all these changes are already taking place – with a little support and awareness the benefits can be made available to more people who need them. There is also resistance from those who refuse to see beyond their immediate interests.
1. Family Name. (‘Vansh’ etc)
Can be changed. Is changing. Let every child carry both the parents’ names. Birth Certificates, Schools and Banks can make it mandatory.
Example, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kislay Usha Chandra.
This also applies to many other religious rites and customs being reserved for either gender, like women fasting for the long life of male children and male siblings and spouse etc. This is changing with couples fasting together and mothers fasting for all their children’s good health and long life.
Widows being denied pleasures and festivities. This too is changing, though painfully slowly. I blogged about my mother, and about a young, hard working slum dweller who actually envied her widowed sister her life without abuse.
2. The present Joint Family System. (Patrilocality)
The Patriarchal Joint Family system means the girl-child has to be ‘trained’ from birth to live with and serve another family. One look at popular Indian TV serials will show how this Patriarchal Joint Family System makes it difficult for parents to want to have girl children.
Choice Marriages (or love-marriages) and Nuclear Family – both make it easier being a woman in India, and directly make it easier for parents to accept girl babies. Also, Khap Panchayats and Ram Sene kind of organisations need to be banned.
Happier couples mean happier families and a better society.
Most parents pay up in the hope of better treatment for their daughters. But they feel they can’t do much if she still isn’t treated well.
If Getting Married-and Staying Married stops being the only goal in an Indian woman’s life, the pressure on her parents to get her married at any ‘cost’ would also reduce.
‘Court Marriages’ under Special Marriages Act also cut down on avoidable expenses.
In Gujarat there was an effort to discourage such marriages by demanding that two adults needed their parents’ permission to marry. I feel such bans are unconstitutional and should be firmly dealt with.
A girl child’s existence is also threatened by her personal life and choices being treated like matters of community honor.
Any gossip, sexual harassment, a relationship with the ‘opposite sex’ or a premarital pregnancy can become life-threatening situations. This influences her prospects of getting married and generally makes a girl-child a difficult child to raise. Basically all the responsibility and very few rights makes raising a girl child a challenge.
Again, let women see Self Reliance and not ‘Getting Married and Staying Married’ as their goal in life. Married women should be encouraged to be their parents’ ‘budhape ka sahara’ (like any other child). This needs massive campaigns. Government could encourage TV serial makers to create serials like Pukaar, Udaan, Ladies Special etc. Movies like Matrubhumi, Lajja, Mirch Masala, Astitva, Honeymoon travels private limited and serials like Pukaar should be aired on the TV.
I don’t approve of censorship, but since we do have censorship, we need to firmly ban scenes that show a man slapping/beating a woman to teach her to be a good Indian woman. Rape scenes should be monitored to convey horror not titillate, and dialogues that imply a sexual assault means an end to a victim’s life, should be reworded.
The law enforcing agencies need to be sensitized to crimes against women. I wish we could protest like this, and we do need more than just Fast Track Courts to try cases of sexual harassment.
5. Economic Independence.
Whatever she earns belongs to her in laws. If she does not work, she can’t even walk out of a marriage, even if she ran a house or raised children. Women should be encouraged to be financially self-reliant.
I hope this Bill becomes a law – it should enable a non-earning married woman to be financially self-reliant.
For married women and mothers not earning, should not mean not being self-reliant.
Though the matrimonial property gets accumulated through the active contribution of the home-maker wife, the husband exercises exclusive ownership rights over it. So when a marriage breaks down, most women are rendered destitute. A woman’s right is confined to a monthly maintenance dole. If the woman has an independent source of income, she is denied even this meagre amount. During divorce proceedings, substantial sums can be secured to the wife only through negotiations during court proceedings in the event that the husband (wants) a hasty divorce.
All these points have been discussed in the comment section of this post – I was glad to read I wasn’t the only one who saw these changes as the only way to make Indian parents want to have and to raise daughters.