The culture and tradition of India are considered as old and great all over the world where people use to worship various female Goddesses but how can taking birth as a woman in rural India be a curse?
In recent years, India has made great strides in improving the status of women. The constitution bans discrimination calls for equity between the sexes and government aid programs help women improve their lot. Although in urban India, gender equity has almost been achieved, in rural India this is not the case. A woman belonging to the lower and middle-class family suffers more than the woman of the higher class family.
One basic problem faced by women in rural India is that they are confronted with the gender bias of society and denial of basic rights. They are a victim of domestic violence, sexual abuse and frequently play no part in household decision-making. This in the long run often leads to mental imbalance.
Rural women have higher health issues, higher rates of malnutrition, anemia or other such diseases. Malnutrition is the underlying cause of death among girls below the age of 5. Girls were breast-fed less frequently and for a shorter duration during infancy as the mother gets pregnant as soon as possible, under peer pressure to produce a male child which is important for attaining salvation.
The level of women education is less than men till in the modern age. Female illiteracy is higher in the rural area where over 63% or more women remain un-lettered. In a rural area, infrastructure plays a part to bring about the lower rate of school attendant. Lack of access to private washrooms has consequently kept back many girls from attending school. Women are also discouraged for higher education, especially in the professional and technical fields. Thereby women face problems to get employment. Various facilities have been provided by the government for higher education of girls, but they are not allowed to go beyond the outskirts of their home because they are considered protected under their father’s roof and this protection very early is handed over to their husband. Employment facilities are created for women but most of them are unable to step out of their orthodox homes.
Early marriage is a frequent event in rural homes as 69% of rural women are married before their 16th birthday. Combined with an inability to own land, this makes them functionally dependent on their husband. In addition, dowry system still exists in rural India. Women are ill-treated, disrespected and even murdered because of lack of dowry at the time of marriage. Moreover, arranged marriage system is very frequent in villages. Women are not allowed to have a choice. They are shamelessly displayed as a commodity before giving them off in marriage. On the other side, women involved in love marriage or inter-caste marriage, come under the risk of honor killing in the existence of patriarchal society.
Rural women are also not allowed to experiment with various dress patterns on themselves other than the traditional ones because of deep-rooted cultural norms.
The status of women is further portrayed by beliefs surrounding the menstrual cycle. In some areas, when a woman is menstruating, she is viewed as a gateway to hell. During this time, women are considered unholy and frequently are forbidden from sleeping in the house, cooking and having contact with others.
Women being deprived of their rights, finally end up in an existential crisis. And thereby, the society comes forward to proof women as the weaker section. Various laws are enacted by the government but women are deprived because society and family deprive them of their rights. They are not even aware of the existence of these laws. Shackles of the orthodox society limit their free growth of mind and deprive them of their happiness. Until society accepts men and women as equal in terms of their rights practically, the society will never progress.
“There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of woman is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”
7th Position, The Brave Hindu Writing Contest