DON’T COMPLICATE THINGS

Hello Everyone,

When the topic for the week was tossed I thought there’s so much to write but my friends were a step ahead and poured their hearts regarding their concerns about how a girl child is perceived to grow up in a society like ours.  And I echo their thoughts.

Well after exercising my brain a lot as to what shall I present, I thought of bringing forth two examples (out of many) from my childhood but not directly related to my own life that had a lasting impact on my opinions.

Instance 1:  He was my junior in school.  A dancer by interest and a very bright student.  He was always a target of bullies in school.  Calling him “girlie” and many more names that I am unable to express (leaving it your imagination) here, was very distasteful to the core.

Instance 2:  I think I was in 4th class, there was one particular chapter in Hindi where the girl child of the family was made to do various chores because she was supposed to know every household task whereas the boy was kept aloof from all that. Ok let’s not into the details 😀.

These instances always made me think “Why this divide?”.  Why we as a society are hell bent on dividing the tasks based on gender.  A girl child by default is made to master the daily chores, culinary arts and she is the sole torch-bearer of the  honour of family.  Whereas a boy child is made to believe that it is acceptable for him not to participate in household tasks.  Rather it is somehow deemed to be a sign of supremacy to announce “my son doesn’t know all this stuff, I have never let him do that” and God forbid if it’s a girl, then it’s a matter of shame or social outcry.

First things first: We must understand one thing that nature have clearly done the demarcation of who does what and that’s final and irreversible.   By trying to divide tasks we are only complicating simple things.

What if a girl child wants to take up taekwondo classes at her will rather than an obligation for safety, what if a boy wants to learn dancing or cooking?  Why not let them apprentice what they want without deep introspection of what society has to say.  One line that is often passed around in our society especially with regards to a girl child “will so much education and learning change the fact that she has to take care of family and kitchen after she is married” really irks me.

On a second thought:  Instead of marking off and dividing tasks between a girl child and a boy child wouldn’t this be better that everyone knows everything or at least a bit of everything.  How about making children (irrespective of gender) share and rotate chores and learn extra curricular activities of their interests without differentiation of genders. That would help us to nurture a more confident, independent, considerate generation.

On contrary what are we doing ?

Defining territories and spell stress:  Because of the years of upbringing that define specific territories to be taken care of by respective genders we are making inroads for stress in our kids’ life in future.  For example a girl child when grows up with the lessons of being solely responsible for her household she is burdened by immense stress of doing it neatly to the T because she knows that she is going to be evaluated by her family on how she keeps the house or how she cooks and her counterpart most probably be unable to share that responsibility because he has never been raised so.  On the flip side he is equally helpless in her absence because of lack of know-how of even simple things like making a cup of tea.  I have witnessed such people.

Undoubtedly the numbers which we call statistics show an improvement in the number of girls receiving education as compared to our own previous records but giving education won’t be sufficient until and unless the rift, the divide between two genders is not mended.  It’s our responsibility to impart an important value in our boys as well (because throughout we have been doing the same to our girl child i.e. imparting lessons on life) that they are equally responsible for peace, sanctity and honour of home.  They are equal bearers of responsibilities of house.

To be precise I am not against a girl child learning the tasks necessary to run a household but then it shall not be the sole prerogative of a girl.  I am not here promoting the complete role reversals but definitely stand up for role rotations based on need of the hour.  And for that to happen we should start treating our kids equally in every way not just helping them pursue hollow education.

Remember one thing: Tasks are not gender definite except for few that are defined by nature.  You can ask your son to help in kitchen and your girl child can help you install that new television in living.  Let them groom in every possible manner.

THE CREATOR DOESN’T PLACE BOYS AND GIRLS IN A HIERARCHY . . . THEN WHY DO WE?

Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights”

-United Nations Resolution 66/170

In 2011, as the result of youth advocacy around the world, the United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. Its mission is, “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”

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When the divine Creator shapes boys and girls, He doesn’t place them in a hierarchy. Then why do we?

Physical and functional differentials are not meant to be indicators of disparity along the social ladder. The stereotypic impressions that tug along with girls (especially in South Asian countries) is that, they are liabilities while boys are regarded as assets. Generations have gone by, education levels have leaped high, girls have proven their mettle in any field you name – still the ill-treatment towards girls lingers on.

True that societal change doesn’t happen overnight, but in the case of attitude towards girls, even decades haven’t been enough! Not many realize that female foeticide is intentional murder of the girl child. The dowry system flaunted by the rich has become a noose for the poor and the middle-class who fail to meet the demands of the sucker grooms and their families. Trafficking of little girls before they attain puberty, underage marriage, forced prostitution, kidnappings, sexual assault (at home/in the workplace/by strangers or trusted people) are the demons each girl child has to live in fear of.

In the context of Indian culture especially, a girl’s birth is said to be for “another’s household”. Case after case has shown that girls take very good care of their parents even after marriage. Still the age-old statement hardly changes! A girl is taught to endure hardships in life, to be adjustive and accommodative, to be less demanding and ‘homely’ because “who knows what type of house she will go to one day”. Aren’t these traits to be equally inculcated in boys as well?

Recently, a friend on the marriage-way shared how her parents don’t bother whether she gets a loving and caring husband or not, as long as the boy has a job in a high position and belongs to the same caste. Her mother’s words being, “a girl has to be under the feet of her husband whether he hits her, kicks her or burns her.” How unfortunate that these lines come from a woman! One feels helpless before people of such mindsets who feel that anyone who raises their voice against such things is without values.

Well for people like these and mindsets like these, observing a day to mark the significance of girls, their rights and their dignity, is so very essential to drive home some vital truths.

“I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.” Malala Yousafzai (Winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2014)

Malala Yousafzai chose to continue going to school even against the threats of the Taliban and as a result took their bullets in her head. After repeated surgeries, today she is up and about, encouraging girls around the world with her story of survival and voicing her protests against the inhuman and unjust treatment meted out to girls.

Let me tell you it’s not easy to live in Malala’s shoes! It’s not easy to live in the shoes of any girl who has been violated, who has been meted out differential treatment, who has been forced to give up on her rights and wishes and desires, who has been sold off for money, who has been made to believe that she is unwanted, who has been reduced to a commodity to be used for pleasure and then discarded.

It’s a tough world for girls. Can you and I resolve to make a difference?

The theme for International Day of the Girl Child 2017 is – “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.”

Statistics say that there are nearly 600 million girls aged 10 to 19 in the world today, each with limitless individual potential. However they are disappearing from public awareness and the international development agenda. Between inequities in secondary education to protection issues, adolescent girls are uniquely impacted. The UN Women believes that investing in adolescent girls can have a formidable ripple effect to create a better world by 2030.

Let’s resolve to bring these disappearing adolescent girls back to the visibility radar. One small effort in this direction would be, to be effective role models in our attitudes towards girls. Remember the next generation is watching! Let’s teach our boys while they are small to treat girls with the dignity that is due them. Let’s determine not to watch any shows or movies that objectify women just for the sake of entertainment. Let’s resolve not to be a part of any crass humour involving girls/women.

Little by little, step by step, hand in hand, we can be the change we want to see.

 

BE THE GIRL

“You are girl, behave like one”

“You are girl, you should always lower your voice”

“you are girl, walk properly”

“You are girl, you should sacrifice “

“You are girl, you should respect others”

” You are girl, behave properly”

Have you heard any of these statements??

Yes, I guess quite a lot can comprehend these statements. I have grown up in the similar scenario too, being brought by a typical Indian family. Even if you have not heard from your parents, you might have at least from your so-called relatives, who just really don’t care, but want to pinpoint your faults. It is very common to see the people especially women itself degrading women. A girl child is also a child, she equally deserves to be independent like the boy child. She also has her own good and bad, which she needs to figure out.

Life can never be spoon fed, it has to be lived.

We all do take care of our kids, but it doesn’t mean having a girl child along makes your life dreadful. A girl child is also worthy of dreaming and achieving. No rules are laid for being a girl or a boy. Our society must understand that, yet they turn a blind eye towards it.

We, especially in India, the girl child is considered a burden. I wonder why do they have such a mindset. I myself have two little princesses, they are my world, I give them my whole life.

There happened a conversation, where I had argued a lot being a mother of two girls. :

“Are you planning for one more child? “

I was startled, and asked, “Why, I have two kids already, why I need more?”

“You have only two daughters, why don’t you try for a son? “

Actually, the word “Only” was frustrating me

I asked, “Why do I need a son, I have two independent girls .”

“No… for taking your family name ahead, ….”

I stopped the conversation with a sharp look, giving an answer for all the non-senses that was going to flow ahead

“It is not the boy or a girl thing, It is the child who takes the name. If you do good, people still recognize you as your parent’s child, not someone else. I still carry my family name, If I do good, it is my family who earns it.” I too remarked that “Girls are far better in carrying a family ahead “.

I get frustrated and angered, the conversation was actually boiling up my emotions especially when someone compares a girl and a boy. Where in the world, they have written rules like that. There are no limitations set by GOD, he lets us live it equally. It is us human who laid the rules and most of them not in favor of the girl.

Girls are not weaker, the more we strengthen them emotionally, they learn to fight. Once they know to stand up for themselves, none can hamper their growth. But unfortunately, we do not do it perfectly. We ask them to sacrifice, shatter their dreams, get scared of people as they might harm you etc.

Now, presently things are changing, the society accepts a few changes, yet the revolution is not highly influential. Let your girl child grow, enjoy the benefits of growing up equally, then only we can bring in a healthy society.

Girls are like a powerhouse, the more we add the power of will and strength in them, the girl shines out well. Teach them that they are not born for sacrificing their will and interests, help them to capture their dreams.

I personally, feel that being a mother of two girls is what I am proud of. They are my strengths, they are my everything. Nurture every child, boy or a girl, truly in a way that each facilitate each others growth. NurtTeach them to keep their head high.

It is the time that every girl born are saved, they deserve a life too. Not a life that has to be trashed finally, but to be lived truly.

WHY DO WE MAKE THE WORLD SO UNSAFE FOR GIRLS TO LIVE A NORMAL LIFE ?

“My wife is doing good, we are very much ready to welcome our baby. Her expected date is three weeks away, I feel so tensed, don’t know how I am going to handle it… Boy or girl we are excited about the baby around which our world is going to revolve. However, I confess that having a baby girl would make me more concerned. I would really feel pressure to bring up a baby girl. Our surroundings are not safe, creches, schools, colleges, offices, not a single place makes me feel any less worried… I don’t know if I can be a responsible dad who can protect my little girl as a parent. It really does worry me….” – view point of my friend who was expecting his first child.

Well, I wouldn’t say I am surprised, I would have to give it a thought. I laid back on the couch after this conversation pondering over how I would have felt. I always am biased towards a girl child, I would just love having one. If I were to be expecting a girl, would I be more concerned than having a boy, without a doubt, the answer is “YES”. Times have changed, girls now get to study whatever they love to, can work, they grow up to be financially independent which really makes a difference to the way life is laid out before them, but the real question is, “Is it safe ?”, no-brainer, it’s “NO”.

I do commute to my work place alone.  Most of the times when I drive back home it’s already late in the evening.  Let me share what happens every day. I get a call everyday at a designated time from my parents, if I do not answer the call, they know I am still at work, my responsibility is to call them back after I am home, no matter how late it is in the night.

Once, it so happened that I wasn’t keeping well, I came home a little early, unknowingly I fell asleep. My parents tried to reach me, I didn’t even have a clue of it because my mobile phone was on silent, the next day morning I see twelve missed calls spaced in time all over the night, couple of messages, when I called them back, I heard what my dad had to say, “Where were you all night ? Do you even have an idea of what kind of thoughts hovered our minds ? This is the last time, you better call us every day after you reach home. Your call is not going to disturb us, frankly, I couldn’t sleep whole night”. This is the reality which every parent, husband, sibling go through everyday, in every home, it can be a boy or a girl, they would be concerned, more so for a girl.

I must accept that I really don’t feel safe when I am driving alone once it’s dark, well, sometimes even when it is day time. I have to be more watchful of the surroundings, every movement feels suspicious, and yes the recent increase in the trends of rapes, molestation’s, acid attacks only increased the amount of data that get’s processed in my brain when I do not have a companion. It’s unsafe !!!

If such is the situation with grown-up’s, imagine about toddlers, young girls. Instances where few month old babies are falling victims of rape, I fail to understand where are we heading. My blood boils, at that moment I cannot really hold on to my anger, how , how on earth can a fully grown up man thinks that a 3-month old girl can satisfy his senseless arousal ? 11 -month old raped for two hours, what the hell ? Wasn’t the baby crying out of pain for two hours and the man had no consideration of it ? 

Why do we make the world so unsafe for girls to live ? What was their fault ? Everyone cribs the world has to change, we make the world and are integral part of it, unless our mindsets change the world would never change. That’s far away, I understand but what can be done now?

Fear creeps in , in various forms. Let’s not have that fear subdue our emotions towards having a lovely baby girl. A child is precious, whether it is boy or a girl. If you have a baby girl, I would not suggest to scare your little one by exposing her to all the bad things that happen in the world, but please prepare her to face the adversities. Make her strong, strong enough to understand that the world isn’t safe, strong enough to fight, smart enough to report any misbehavior. As long as we tolerate, the world would make us suffer, let’s fight instead …

SINCE WHEN DID DOING SOMETHING LIKE A GIRL BECOME AN INSULT FOR A BOY?

“Congratulations! It’s a girl.”

I was dying to hear this in the labor room but it wasn’t supposed to be. I had a boy!

But unfortunately there are many people who go to all possible limits to ensure that they only get a news that says “It’s a boy!” In my opinion, there is nothing wrong in having a preference towards the gender of your child (like I had for a girl), the problem comes when people start to take inhuman decisions for that preference like abortion and killing the girl infant. If not, they would discriminate between the genders.

I personally know a family who is blessed with 2 daughters and they are so worried that who will take over their huge family business in future. The mother of the girls was made to abort the third child at least twice because she conceived a girl again. Not only are they doing foeticide but they are also putting the mother’s health at risk with these multiple pregnancies and abortions. The only question I have for this family and other’s of this kind “why can’t your daughter handle the family business?” I never got a convincing answer for that question.

It hurts me so deeply to see that people just cannot see girls as capable and as precious as boys.

“Let your brothers have those buttery paranthas – you can have later if there is anything left over.”

“While your brother is going to play football, why can’t you just make sure that kitchen is clean post lunch?”

“Keeping the home maintained is a girl’s responsibility. No matter what. So, you should better start learning the art of it.”

These statements aren’t uncommon even in today’s world. I have no idea why is it only girl’s responsibility to cook and clean when these things are something that is needed for the survival of a human being. Boys should know it as much as girls.

There was a brilliant advertisement made with #LikeAGirl. In that advertisement they ask certain questions to kids in late teens and the same questions to 10 year olds and younger kids. One of the question that they ask is “how does a girl run?”

Older boys and girls tend to mock it as a shabby way of running. Younger kids (both boys and girls) show a girl running normally and a 5 year old girl says – “running like a girl means running as fast as you can”. Then they throw a question to the audience “Since when did doing something as a girl become an insult?”

“Don’t cry like a girl! You are a boy”

“My daughter will be my son. She will support me in my old age”

Do you notice something weird in above statements? Doing something as a girl is a demotion of a boy. Doing something as a boy is always a promotion for the girl.

Who made this hierarchy that said boys are superior than girls? It’s just an outcome of patriarchal society that we exist in.

It is high time that we save our girl children and give them as much love and care as we give to our sons. It is also important that we watch our words when we talk to our kids. Saying anything that implicitly means that boys are superior should be omitted. It is very much required that our coming generation learns that both boys and girls are equal.

GROOM ON SALE!

“Rakhungi naino huzoor, Laado ko main dur na dungi
Bangla bhi dungi, aji Motor bhi dungi
Sona to dungi zaroor, Laado lo main dur na dungi”

My granny used to sing this song when she was overwhelmed with love for me; I would be sitting in her lap, thinking WOW! Someday I will get married, and granny would give me so many things, but not get me married far off. This is the psychology of most Indian parents. They are ready to shower the groom and his family in all the riches but want to see their daughter’s happiness at any cost. But sadly, more often than not, the exact opposite happens. Instead of buying her the love of her husband and in-laws, they buy her misery, torture, pain, exploitation, not just physically but emotionally and mentally.

Usually, when we hear any case of dowry killing, burning of newlywed brides, etc., we curse the in-laws, call them names, do some tut tut, and then sympathise with the girl’s parents. But has anyone ever thought that they are no less guilty and involved in her death than her in-laws? Yes, Indian parents often start to think daughter as a burden right from her birth (which often leads to infanticide) because they know that at the time of her marriage they will be expected to give a hefty amount as dowry, which means lifelong struggle and even after she is wed they won’t be free from financial pressure.

Parents often come to know that the groom’s party is greedy right before marriage but decide to fulfil their demands in the name of honour and custom. After marriage they again come to know that their daughter is being harassed by in-laws, and yet again they try to satisfy the greed of the son-in-law, telling the daughter to keep quiet as well, as things will get better with time. The final act of her murder is committed when she comes back to them, seeking shelter and refuge, but instead of letting her know that they are there for her and won’t let her suffer more, they send her back to her in-laws in the name of society and humiliation. The result; they lose their daughter forever.

If the same amount of money that was spent in her dowry was spent in her higher education that was denied to her, she might have lived and lived happily. In the form of education, they could have handed her the weapons to fight any exploitation. They could have made her a self-dependent, self-respecting and self-sufficient individual. But sadly no, the ultimate destination for any girl in India is marriage. In other words, if she is married, living in her husband’s house, has kids, she is HAPPY! No one bothers to know if her husband beats her if she in-laws have turned her into maid without pay if she is standing on the precipice of insanity or suicide.

22292A total of 24,771 dowry deaths has been reported in the country in past three years which means 22 deaths per day and nearly one dowry death every hour. And often she is given the most painful and gruesome death; she is burnt alive.

Would you believe me if I tell you that dowry originated to protect the women? Earlier in India the British Raj prohibited women from having any rights over property, it meant that all her inheritance from parents would be given to the husband, this was the way parents gave her, her dues. The girl’s parents would give her enough land, jewellery, etc. to enable her to have an income of her own as well as assets in times of adversity. Soon it took the form of greed from the groom’s side wherein the marriage became a financial deal instead of a relation.

Today the sacred union called marriage has been reduced to the mere financial transaction; it has become just another business deal where grooms are on display, and the bride’s parents are the purchasers. The higher the degree of the boy, the higher the dowry. But the sad part is, even after paying the asked price, the buyers make a lost deal.

Now if you come to hypocrisy, We are the most skilful hypocrites in the world. All of us are experts at practising virtue at a distance. On first encounter every boy’s father invariably remarks – ‘we don’t need anything. Whatever you give is your choice. It will be after all a gift to your daughter. The demand is never openly made. Someone from groom’s family will innocuously ask about items being given to the bride so that they will not purchase the same for the bride’s room in their house. “What will be the point in duplicating the purchase of a Television, fridge, washing machine, play station, double bed, dressing table, safe, decorative items, modular kitchen, car, etc.? It would be better if the monetary value of these items is calculated and cash is given to groom to purchase items of his liking.” It’s like a naming a ceremony, replace the word “Dowry” with ” father’s gift to his daughter”.

For the sake of materialistic possessions, a woman is treated far worse than one would treat his animal. If I begin to tell you that in how many ways a woman is tortured, you will be amazed that god’s most beautiful creation, given the status of a goddess is subjected to such inhumanity. They will do just about anything to vent out their anger on her, break her will, drive her to suicide, and if she is strong enough not to commit that sin, they incinerate her. Starvation p, marital rape, imprisonment within the house, physical violence, denying her access to her children, taunting, demoralising, threatening, abusing them in front of people, suspending all social interaction and not allowing her to meet her parents.

b24f7c083ec4c102a481a8e4e360ebf1.jpgThe Indian penal court has clearly stated that giving and taking of dowry is a punishable crime under section 304B, that anybody found guilty of this crime will be convicted to punishment, whereas the cases of dowry death will be given minimum seven years of jail time to probably life time imprisonment. This custom is covertly but widely practised all over the country. In fact, it’s being consumed that this law might be altered as it is found that in 10% of cases, it’s being misused by women.

Marriage is the celebration of love. GREED has to be removed out of the equation. Let’s all take the Dowry Pledge.

1. If you happen to be a boy, DO NOT demand dowry. If your family happens to be the sorts who would, please make it clear that you do not wish to be part of something as lowly as THIS, in the name of tradition.
2. If you happen to be a girl, DO NOT agree to marry into a family that demands dowry. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘family demanding dowry’. The boy is the part of the family and if he wants he can put his foot down and disagree to any dowry being demanded from the girl’s side. If he isn’t doing that, show him the door. He is not worth it. If he can’t stand up for something right at this moment, he won’t play in the future as well.
3. If you happen to be the girl’s parents, DO NOT marry your daughters into a family that gives or takes dowry in any form. File a complaint against the family who makes a dowry demand – Ok. You have rejected the marriage proposal from the household who demanded dowry. Do not keep quiet. Your complaint may save an innocent from being harassed or burned to death.
4. If you happen to be the innocent onlooker, DO NOT be part of that wedding, boycott it. Say “I will not attend or support weddings where I am aware that dowry and extravagant gifts have been demanded and given.”

A father can give no bigger gift than his daughter, a piece of his heart.

Remember, Dowry Isn’t Gift!

GENDER DISCRIMINATION – PUT AN END TO IT

A lot has been written and discussed on this topic. There have debates, articles, fights, breakups, divorces, personal comments – all in the name of “Feminism”. So, I want to take an opportunity to put my view forward on this topic.

I think all of us will agree that there is something called “Male privilege” that exists in our society and so does “Female privilege”. There are million examples available for both the privileges on internet and I do now want to repeat them here. However there is one thing that I want to stress is that there are people in both the genders who use these privileges wisely but there are a lot many who misuse it.

Unfortunately, the numbers of people who misuse these privileges are a lot many and these people do not get the punishment that they deserve (at least in India).

Men have the freedom to roam around at night because they are safer in our society but there are men who use this freedom to actually harass any women who are out late at night. Women have freedom to “not earn” or pay on a date, but there are women who are gold diggers.

Feminism is the most misused word in today’s world and it worries me a lot because I am not sure what kind of education we are giving to our little girls who are growing up in a world where “being a feminist is cool”.

It is all about equality of genders. I would love my son to grow up in a world where house-husbands are not looked down upon and women can freely hang around at any time of the day or night. It should be a world where people are hired and paid as per their talent and not as per their gender. It should be a world where men are not made fun for showing their emotions and women are not considered weak and vulnerable. It should be a world where men and women are treated as partners – in homes, in organizations and in governments.

I would urge every reader to start creating equality from your personal life. I would like to share an example from my life. I use public buses to travel to and from work and quite often the buses are too crowded and many of us have to stand and travel. There are always some seats reserved for women which are at times occupied by men. I never ask a man to get up for me (just because there is a seat reserved for my gender); I might never know what kind of physically exhaustive day that man had. However when I was pregnant – I never witnessed a day where a man or a woman did not vacate his/her seat to support me in a crowded bus. This is just one of the very small examples where we all can exhibit out belief in equality of genders.

(SOURCE OF THE IMAGE: HERE)