Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Working women and children

From the very beginning of existence of humankind, women was given the role of taking care of house work and children by society in almost every culture. Meanwhile, men was obligated to provide food and major needs of the family. This trend has changed since 1980s and now a majority of women are working for several reasons such as the need of socialising and sharing the burden of husband. However, it was then claimed that the children were badly affected and having lots of problems such as behavial disorder without the care of mother. Just as I support the idea of women working, I also admit that in some cases this situation affects children in a bad way.

First, there is an undeniable necessary need of having a role in social life for women. They have the need of being more independent and self-confident. Working is an option to satisfy this need and become social individuals. Due to the fact that there will be no parent to take care of children during work hours, someone is hired to take on this duty. In spite of this, they leave the children to their grandparents to take care of. Both situations can be considered a temporary solution.

On the other hand, it is admittedly a big amount of time that any parents will not be able to spend with their children during work hours.It can not be guaranteed that children who are taken care of by their own mothers will not experience any problems in life, but there is no doubt that the children will not have the lack of mother care and their personalities will not be shaped without parents' protection and care.

In conclusion, it is possible to find temporary solutins to take care of children while mother is working, but i believe that any other solutins can not replace mothers role for children.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Status of Women in Contemporary World

Status of Women in Contemporary World

Without a well defined, high-profile issue that clearly demonstrates discrimination against women, and is susceptible to a concrete remedy, political mobilization of women will not take place. Women have, in the past, mobilized politically for some well-defined causes when definite corrective measures were achievable. Despite high levels of resentment about the general status of women, most women today are not inclined toward political action because they do not perceive the problem as being susceptible to civil remedies. It would, therefore, take a clearly defined form of discrimination, that had a practical remedy, for women to mobilize.
Notable instances of the political mobilization of women include the Suffrage movement, the pro- and anti-ERA movements, and the electoral response to the Clarence Thomas hearings in several states. In each instance the issues appeared to be clearly defined to those women who mobilized to promote or defeat issues or candidates. Regardless of whether or not the issues truly were well-defined, or even whether supporters actually understood the issues, the proponents of particular viewpoints believed that they were so defined. In each case there was also a goal that, when accomplished, would be taken to mean that their ends had been achieved: obtaining the vote, passing or defeating the ERA, and electing or defeating political candidates.
Regardless of which side women took on these issues they were mobilized by the belief

that a wro

Status of women in India. 2. Women in the Muslim world. 3.
Women in SAARC countries. 4. Women in global picture.
5. Asian women in Britain. 6. The Russian women.
7. Women's liberation in China. 8. Women and religion.
9. Social issues. 10. Purdah and public space. 11. Women in Islam.
12. Widow remarriage. 13. Women and women's issues.
14. Studying and working women. 15. Women's organisations and
movements. 16. Structural adjustment of female workers.
17. Amendment of Dowry Prohibition Act. Index.

"The status of woman refers to the position women are granted as
individuals in the social structure, defined by their designated rights
and obligations. We shall try and explore the status in terms of a role,
or the pattern or behaviour expected of the occupant of the status--
the woman. The diverse roles she performs in society, as stated earlier,
are those of a daughter, a wife, a mother and a career woman. In order
to have a global picture of women's status, let us make a quick review
of some of the developed, developing and under-developed countries
in terms of the position occupied by women in different social structures,
and try to determine ways and means to enhance their position through
the most powerful media: education.

"The western woman has also lived, almost always, as the subordinate
member of the two sexes, and has been biologically and physically
regarded as the weaker sex who, at best, can either be protected or
neglected. This relationship between woman and man has been
accepted--civilization after civilization. She has been labelled the last
of the human beings on earth to challenge civilized life for achieving
humanity towards her. Woman has been invisible in the history of
human life." (jacket)

Status of Women in Asian Countries

Status of Women in Asian Countries

Women planning to teach in Asia can expect gender attitudes that are
outdated by Western social standards. East Asian cultures are based
on a traditional societal hierarchy in which women are the lowest
members and must show deference to males.
Not long ago, Japanese women under forty were
not allowed out of the
house without good reason, and women were required to use a more
humble form of language than men.

What is the status for women in present-day East Asia? Women have
been making great strides in society and the workplace. More and more
young women are going to college and pursuing careers. In fact, a
woman named Takako Doi headed the popular Japanese Socialist
Party, and the newly crowned Japanese princess, Masako Owada,
graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, speaks three languages
fluently, and is a respected international diplomat.

In spite of these examples, the nation's day-to-day mentality about
equality remains largely unchanged. The phrases "sexual harassment"
and "equal rights" are only now being introduced to Asian vocabularies.

Antiquated and insulting comparisons still exist, including the Japanese
"Christmas Cake Syndrome." Christmas cakes are sold on December 25
, and after that date the cakes are thrown away because they are no
longer fresh. The same is said to be true of women: If a woman is over
twenty-five and still single, then she should worry about her
depreciating value in the marriage market. Along these lines, women are
expected to work until age twenty-five and then retire to a life of
Although this mindset is gradually changing, don't be surprised if you
are politely questioned about your age and marital status.

Also be aware that in some cultures, Western women are considered
"easy" and immoral. This notion was most likely created by the media
portrayals that make it over to Asia. Nowhere is this perception more
widely held than in South Korea. We have had letters from women
teaching in South Korea who suggest that female teachers, unless
secure and independent, might want to look elsewhere for employment.
Some of them have been hassled simply because they are Western

Despite these challenges, women shouldn't lose faith in their ability to
teach. Instead, keep a healthy attitude; realize that the system is another
element of Asian culture and look at it as an opportunity to educate
your students on the status of women in your own country.

Whatever your viewpoint, remember that you are a guest in a foreign
land. Gender roles are created over thousands of years and evolve
according to social norms. Try to play a positive role in understanding
and acclimating to your new culture. You might not always agree with
cultural standards abroad, but if you take them in stride you'll certainly
enhance your learning experience.

Women in Israel

Women in Israel

A report on the status of women in Israel in 2004 presented recently
by the Israel Women's Network to the Knesset Committee for the
Advancement of the Status of Women indicates that Israeli women
have the highest average number of children in the Western world.
The Israeli average is 2.89 compared to 2.5 in Turkey and 2 in the U.S.

Women represent 50.7% of Israel's population, meaning that for every
100 men there are 103 women, whereas in the world at large there are
99 women for every 100 men. One of the reasons that women
outnumber men in Israel is that they live longer. The average life span
for women is 81.2 years compared to 77.3 years for men.

The average marrying age for Jewish women is 24.5, and for Muslim
women 20.5. In Europe the average marrying age for women is 27.

Of mothers in Israel, some 97,000 are single parents, and 64% of them
are Jewish. Single mothers head 10% of families in Israel compared to
17% in other Western countries.

Approximately 22% of Israel's women have 13-15 years of formal
education compared to 20% of men, but conversely 4.5% of women
have no schooling compared to 1.8% of men.

Of the current crop of high school students, 74% of the girls and 65%
of the boys are candidates for bagrut.

The female ratio of students is also high in institutions of higher learning
with an overall average of 55.9%. Israel ranks seventh in the Western
world with regard to the percentage of women who are studying in
higher education facilities.

Women comprise:
* 81% of students in teaching courses;
* 79.3% in nursing and other forms of medical assistance;

* 23.5% of students in courses such as engineering and architecture;
* 31.4% of students studying mathematics, statistics and computer sciences; and
* 24% of university faculty; and

* 49% of Israel's work force.

Since the establishment of the state the ratio of unemployment among
females has always been higher than that of males. In 2003, 11.3% of
women who wanted to work were unemployed compared to 10.2% of

Women are less inclined to be self-employed than men — 91.4% of
working women are salaried employees compared to 82.4% of men.
Only 4.4% of salaried women are in executive roles, compared to
11.6% of men. Men also earn more in monthly salaries and more in
jobs paid by an hourly rate.

Of 121 countries in which women are included in the legislature, Israel,
despite having once been led by a woman prime minister, ranks 66th.
Women comprise only 15% of Israel's 120-member Knesset, placing
Israel somewhere between the Arab world and developing countries
in its attitude to female politicians. The female ratio among
Scandinavian legislators is 40% and rising. Among the member
states of the European Union, the average is 17.6%. In Arab countries
it is 6.4%.

Under the current Israeli administration there has been an increase in
the number of women ministers from 11% to 13%, but the ratio dropped
again with the resignation of Environment Minister Yehudit Naot,
whose battle with cancer precluded her from continuing in office.

Only ten women have served in Israel's governments since the creation
of the state. They include Golda Meir, Shoshana Arbeli Almoslino,
Shulamit Aloni, Sara Doron, Ora Namir, Limor Livnat, Dalia Itzik, Yuli
Tamir, Tzippy Livni and Yehudit Naot.

The ratio of women in the local councils of Even Yehuda and Omer
is 44.4%. Ra'anana comes next with 36.8%, Kochav Yair with 36% and
Ramat Hasharon 35.6%. Of the larger municipalities, Tel Aviv-Jaffa is
in the lead, with women comprising 35.5% of the city council.

Only nine women have served as mayors. Today there are two heading
city councils – Yael German in Herzliya and Miriam Fierberg in Netanya.
In addition, Daniella Weiss heads the Kedumim local council, and Ora
Hacham, Yael Shaltieli and Lilach Morgan respectively head the regional
councils of Effal, the Beit She'an Valley and the Central Arava.

Ancient india and women

Ancient india and women

Scholars believe that in ancient India, the women enjoyed equal status
with men in all fields of life. However, some others hold contrasting
views.Works by ancient Indian grammarians such as Patanjali and
Katyayana suggest that women were educated in the early Vedic
period Rigvedic verses suggest that the women married at a
mature age and were probably free to select their husband.
Scriptures such as Rig Veda and Upanishads mention several women
sages and seers, notably Gargi and Maitreyi.

Some kingdoms in the ancient India had traditions such as nagarvadhu
("bride of the city"). Women competed to win the coveted title of the
nagarvadhu. Amrapali is the most famous example of a nagarvadhu.

According to studies, women enjoyed equal status and rights during
the early Vedic period. However, later (approximately 500 B.C.),
the status of women began to decline with the Smritis (esp. Manusmriti)
and with the Islamic invasion of Babur and the Mughal empire and later
Christianity curtailing women's freedom and rights.

Although reformatory movements such as Jainism allowed women
to be admitted to the religious order, by and large, the women in India
faced confinement and restrictions. The practice of child marriages
is believed to have started from around sixth century.

Medieval period and women

Medieval period and womenAdd Image

Krishna at Goddesss Radharani's feetThe Indian woman's position in
the society further deteriorated during the medieval periodwhen
Sati, child marriages and a ban on widow remarriages became part
of social life in India. The Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent
brought the purdah practice in the Indian society. Among the Rajputs
of Rajasthan, the Jauhar was practised. In some parts of India, the
Devadasis or the temple women were sexually exploited. Polygamy
was widely practised esp. among Hindu Kshatriya rulers. In many
Muslim families, women were restricted to Zenana areas.

In spite of these conditions, some women execeled in the fields of
politics, literature, education and religion. Razia Sultana became
the only woman monarch to have ever ruled Delhi. The Gond queen
Durgavati ruled for fifteen years, before she lost her life in a battle with
Mughal emperor Akbar's general Asaf Khan in 1564. Chand Bibi
defended Ahmednagar against the mighty Mughal forces of Akbar
in 1590s. Jehangir's wife Nur Jehan effectively wielded imperial power
and was recognized as the real force behind the Mughal throne.
The Mughal princesses Jahanara and Zebunnissa were well-known
poets, and also influenced the ruling administration Shivaji's mother,
Jijabai was deputed as queen regent, because of her ability as a warrior
and an administrator. In South India, many women administered
villages, towns, divisions and heralded social and religious institutions.

The Bhakti movements tried to restore women's status and questioned
some of the forms of oppression. Mirabai, a female saint-poet, was
one of the most important Bhakti movement figures. Some other female
saint-poets from this period include Akka Mahadevi, Rami Janabai and
Lal Ded. Bhakti sects within Hinduism such as the Mahanubhav, Varkari
and many others were principle movements within the Hindu fold to
openly advocate social justice and equality between men and women.

Shortly after the Bhakti movement, Guru Nanak, the first Guru of Sikhs
also preached the message of equality between men and women.
He advocated that women be allowed to lead religious assemblies;
to perform and lead congregational hymn singing called Kirtan or
Bhajan; become members of religious management committees; to
lead armies on the battlefield; have equality in marriage, and equality
in Amrit (Baptism). Other Sikh Gurus also preached against the
discrimination against women.

Women in Sikhism

Women in Sikhism
Historical practices
Traditions such as sati, jauhar, and devadasi have been banned and are
largely defunct in modern India. However, some cases of these
practices are still found in remote parts of India. The purdah is still
practiced by many Indian women, and child marriage remains
prevalent despite it being an illegal practice, especially under current
Indian laws.



Devadasi is a religious practice in some parts of southern India,
in which women are "married" to a deity or temple. The ritual was well
established by the 10th century A.D. In the later period, the
illegitimate sexual exploitation of the devadasi's became a norm in some
parts of India.



Purdah is the practice of requiring women to cover their bodies so as
to cover their skin and conceal their form. It imposes restrictions on the
mobility of women, it curtails their right to interact freely and it is a
symbol of the subordination of women. It does not reflect the religious
teachings of either Hinduism or Islam, contrary to common belief,
although misconception has occurred due to the ignorance and
prejudices of religious leaders of both faiths.


Jauhar refers to the practice of the voluntary immolation of all the wives
and daughters of defeated warriors, in order to avoid capture and
consequent molestation by the enemy. The practice was followed by
the wives of defeated Rajput rulers, who are known to place a high
premium on honour.

What is Sati

What is Sati ?
Sati is an old, largely defunct custom, in which the widow was
immolated alive on her husband's funeral pyre. Although the act was
supposed to be a voluntary on the widow's part, it is believed to have
been sometimes forced on the widow. It was abolished by the British
in 1829. There have been around forty reported cases of sati since
independence. In 1987, the Roop Kanwar case of Rajasthan led to
The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act.


Sati i.e. widow burning would normally be looked upon as a negative
aspect of culture. When confronted with questions as to why such a
Practice should have existed, a student of history with misplaced
national pride would try to explain awasy such practices.

Today Sati is illegal, it is also generally looked down upon but it
continues to exist in the rural corners of our country. One- still does
hear of stray incidents of woman being forced to or trying to commit
Sati. The country owes the abolition of this deplorable practice to the
crusading efforts of Raja Rammohan Roy the 18th century social

The reason why this inhuman practice could hae come into being are
many. But the principal among them could be identified in the same
mileu which which gave birth to dowry. Closer examination of this
practice of widow-burning supports this inference. Widow-burning as
a widely prevalent practice can be seen only since the mediaeval period
but there are reasons which trace its origins in antiquity.

Even a casual observer will notice that widow-brning is more prevalent
among the higher martial caste. Among the lower castes and aboriginal
tribes it is nearly absent. The prevalence of Sati among the higher
castes is no co-incidence.

As mentioned earlier, among the higher castes, a bride was looked
upon as a burden as she represented a drain On the family's income
while not contributing anything towards it. If this was her status as a
bride, it is not surprising that if she had the misfortune to become a
widow, her presence in the family was dreaded. And apart from being
considered an object of ill omc , her presence after her husband
demise was a dead weight to her in-laws family.

A widow's status as an unwanted burden was also a result of the taboos
that prevented a wicow from participating in the house-hold work as
her touch, her voice, her very appearance was considered unholy,
impure and something that was to be shunned and abhorred. Thus
without her husbandRa woman's existence was not tolerated and an
extreme but logical outcome of this was widow-burning.

Other auxiliary reasons also went into making widow burning a
prevalent practice. The near impossibility of widow re-marriage arising
from the taboos and prejudices that santified virginity of a bride was
an important reason. Another reason could be the non-recognition
of the individuality of a woman who was considered part and parcel
of her husband, without whom she was a nullity.

This attitude of looking at women is visible in the legal literature
(Dharmashastra) of antiquity. The Manusmriti considered to be one
of the most important legal texts guiding ancient Indian polity has
injunctions which reflect this attitude. It says "a woman is undeserving
for indepancemsce" (Ne stree svatantyam arahathi). Beliefs that a wido,
especially a young one would fall into immoral practices for sensual ple
asures was also used to stoke the fires of Sati. Strangely enough this
logic was never applied to the stronger sex. Widowers were never an
under-priviledged lot.

But the most visible factor that perpetrated Sati was the 'halo of
honour' given to it. Especially in the medieavel ages Sati was given
the status of an act of honour. This was mainly so among the Rajput
martial caste of northern India among whom Sati took the form of a
collective suicide after a battle in which male members had suffered
death at the enemy's hands.

Sati was even committed by women before their husbands were
actually death when their city or town was beseiged by the enemy
and faced certain defeat. This form of Sati was more popularly known
as Jouhar. The Jouhar committed by Rant Padmini of Chittor when
faced by the prospect of dishonour at the hands of a Sultan from
Delhi has been immortalised in Indian history.

In those days North India was under foreign subjugation. The most
powerful kingdomset up by the invaders was the Sultanate of Delhi.

But in RaJputana, the RaJputs had defiantly preserved their writ by
resisting the Delhi Sultans. One such Rajput kingdom was at Chittor.
In those days of the aribitrary feudal power structure, any feudal lord
who took a fancy for any lady would claim her for himself even at the
cost of killing her husband if she happened to be married or even by
waging a war if she was queen or princess. one such lady of
unsurpassable beauty was the Rana of Chittor named Padmini.

Chittor was under the Rule of King Ratnasen, a brave and noble
warrior-king. Apart, from being a loving husband and a just ruler,
Ratnasen was also a patron of the arts. In his court were many talented
People one of whom was a musician named Raghav Chetan. But
unknown to anybody, Raghav Chetan was also a sorcerer. He used
his evil talents to run down his rivals and unfortunately for him was
caught red-handed in his dirty act of arousing evil spirits.

On hearing this King Ratnasen was furious and he banished Raghav
Chetan from his kingdom after blackening his face with face and
making him ride a donkey. This harsh Punishment earned king
Ratansen an uncompromising enemy. Sulking after his humiliation,
Raghav Chetan made his way towards Delhi with -the aim of trying to
incite the Sultan of Delhi Ala-ud-din Khilji to attack Chittor.

On approaching Delhi, Raghav Chetan settled down in one of the
forests nearby Delhi which the Sultan used to frequent for hunting
deer. One day on hearing the Sultan's hunt party entering the forest,
Raghav-Chetan started playing a melodious tone on his flute. When
the alluring notes of Raghav-Chetan flute reached the Sultan's party
they were surprised as to who could be playing a flute in such a
masterly way in a forlorn forest.

The Sultan dispatched his soldiers to fetch the person and when
Raghav-Chetan was brought before him, the Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji
asked him to come to his court at Delhi. The cunning Raghav-Chetan
asked the king as to why he wants to have a ordinary musician like
himself when there were many other beautiful objects to be had.
Wondering what Raghav-Chetan meant, Ala-ud-din asked him to
clarify. Upon being told of Rani Padmini's beauty, Ala-ud-din's lust
was aroused and immediately on returning to his capital he gave
orders to his army to march on Chittor.

But to his dismay, on reaching Chittor, Ala-ud-din found the fort to
be heavily defended. Desperate to have a look at the legendary beauty
of Padmini, he sent word to King Ratnasen that he looked upon
Padmini as his sister and wanted to meet her. On hearing this, the
unsuspecting Ratnasen asked Padmini to see the 'brother'. But
Padmini was more wordly-wise and she refused to meet the lustful
Sultan personally.

But on being persuaded she consented to allow Ala-ud-din to see her
only in a mirror. On the word being sent to Ala-ud-din that Padmini
would see him he came to the fort with his selected his best warriors
who secretly made a careful examination of the fort's defences on
their way to the Palace.

On seeing Padmini, the lustful 'brother' decided that he should secure
Padmini for himself. While returning to his camp, Ala-ud-din was
accompanied for some way by King Ratnasen. Taking this opportunity,
the wily Sultan treacherously kidnapped Ratnasen and took him as a
prisoner into his camp.

Ala--ud-din showed his true colours and demanded , that Padmini be
given to him and in return Ratnasen was to get his liberty. Word was
sent into the palace about the Sultan's demand.

The Rajput generals decided to beast the Sultan at his own game and
sent back a word that Padmini would be given to Ala-ud-din the
nextmorning. On the following dat at the crack of dawn, one hundred
and fifity palaquins (covered cases in which royal ladies were carried
in medieveal times) left the fort and made their way towards Ala-ud-
din's camps The palanquins stopped before the tent where king
Ratnasen was being held prisoner. . Seeing that the palanquins had
come from Chittor; and thinking that they had brought alongwith them
his queen, king Ratnasen was mortified. But to his surprise from the
palanquins came out, not his queen and her women servants but fully
armed soilders, who quickly freed ; Ratnasen and galloped away
towards Chittor on horses grabbed from Ala-ud-din's stables.

On hearing that his designs had been frustrated, the lustful Sultan was
furious and ordered his army to storm Chittor. But hard as they tried
the Sultans army could not break into the fort. Then Ala-ud-din decided
to lay seige to the fort. The seige was a long drawn one and gradually
supplied within the fort were depleted. Finally King Ratnasen gave
orders that the Rajputs would open the gates and fight to finish with
the besieging troops. On hearing of this decision, Padmini decided
that with their menfolk going into the unequal struggle with the
Sultan's army in which they were sure to perish, the women of
Chittor had either to commit suicides or face dishonour at the hands
of the victorious enemy.

The choice was in favour of suicide through Jauhar. A huge pyre
was lit and followed by their queen, all the women of Chittor jumped
into the flames and deceived the lustful enemy waiting outside. With
their womenfolk dead, the men of Chittor had nothing to live for.
Their charged out of the fort and fought on furiously with the vastly
Powerful array of the Sultan, till all of them perished. After this phyrrhic
victory the Sultan's troops entered the fort only to be confronted with
ashes and burnt bones of the women whose honour they were going
to violate to satisfy their lust.

These women who committed Jawhar had to perish but theirmemory
has been kept alive till today by bards and songs which glorify their
act which was right in those days and circumstances. Thus a halo of
honour is given to their supreme sacrifice.

But this halo of honour has to be seen in the light of the above
complusions of alien rule in Inda during the medieveal ages. From the
13th century onwards upto the coming of the British, the position of
women was insecure due to the arbitrary power structure associated
with the feudal society and the rule of the Sultans of Delhi. Although
during the reign of the later Mughals the situation had improved
relatively, women in the medieaval ages were often exposed to the
lust of feudal overlords. Their insecurity increased after the demise
of their husbands. This compulsion which was resultant of a particular
age was by far the most important reason for the prevalence of Sati
during the middle ages.

Although the Moghal emperor Akbar tried to curb this practice, he
could not eradicate it completely. As long as circumstances made
necessary the existence of such an anomalous and inhuman practice,
all efforts to stamp it out were bound to fail. But with the passing of
the feudal power structure and entry of the industrial age under the
British, the compulsions of the medieaval age which helped the
existence of Sati were no longer there. Hence the efforts of Raja
Rammohan Roy succeeded while those of emperor Akbar could not.

One last reason that needs to be mentioned in this context is that of
grief and remorse experienced by a widowed lady. Women as such
are more sensitive and emotional than menu This explains in part the
readiness of some woman to commit Sati. But it should be borne in
mind that the proportion of voluntary Sati was far less and the reasons
behind voluntary Sati Though facts were blown out of proportion to
justify this practice. However, in conclusion it can be observed thet a
complexity of factors contributed over different periods to make Sati a
prevalent custom.

Family planning and Land and property rights

Family planning and Land
and property rights

Family planning

The average woman in rural areas of India has little or no control over
her reproductivity. Women, particularly women in rural areas, do not
have access to safe and self-controlled methods of contraception.
The public health system emphasises permanent methods like
sterilisation, or long-term methods like IUDs that do not need follow-up.
Sterilization accounts for more than 75% of total contraception,
with female sterilisation accounting for almost 95% of all sterilisations

Land and property rights

In most Indian families , women do not own any property in their own
names, and do not get a share of parental property.Due to weak
enforcement of laws protecting them, women continue to have little
access to land and property.In fact, some of the laws discriminate
against women, when it comes to land and property rights.

The Hindu personal laws of mid-1956s (applied to Hindus, Buddhists,
Sikhs and Jains) gave women rights to inheritance. However, the sons
had an independent share in the ancestral property, while the
daughters' shares were based on the share received by their father.
Hence, a father could effectively disinherit a daughter by renouncing
his share of the ancestral property, but the son will continue to have a
share in his own right. Additionally, married daughters, even those
facing marital harassment, had no residential rights in the ancestral
home. After amendment of Hindu laws in 2005, now women in have
been provided the same status as that of men.

In 1986, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Shah Bano, an old
divorced Muslim woman was eligible for maintenance money. However,
the decision was vociferously opposed by fundamentalist Muslim
leaders, who alleged that the court was interfering in their personal law.
The Union Government subsequently passed the Muslim Women's
(Protection of Rights Upon Divorce) Act.

Similarly, the Christian women have struggled over years for equal
rights of divorce and succession. In 1994, all the churches, jointly with
women's organisations, drew up a draft law called the Christian
Marriage and Matrimonial Causes Bill. However, the government has
still not amended the relevant laws.

Health and Women

Health and Women

The average female life expectancy today in India is low compared to
many countries, but it has shown gradual improvement over the years.
In many families, especially rural ones, the girls and women face
nutritional discrimination within the family, and are anaemic and

The maternal mortality in India is the second highest in the world.
Only 42% of births in the country are supervised by health
professionals. Most women deliver with help from women in the
family who often lack the skills and resources to save the mother's
life if it is in danger. According to UNDP Human Development
Report (1997), 88% of pregnant women (age 15-49) were found to be
suffering from anemia.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Girl infanticide
Girl infanticide is the killing of girls at birth. It is known to happen in many parts of the world, including India. India’s traditions and beliefs are a known factor on why girl infanticide occurs. The continuous domination of males over women repeats a cycle of murder, abuse and more murder. Without the abuse and discrimination against women, mothers would not feel as if they were doing a favor to their daughters by murdering them. Mother-in-laws would not feel that a son was necessary to continue their legacy. No family would be pressured to kill infants or go for an abortion before the baby was born. Laws have been passed to end this horror, but until women stand up for themselves, these year old traditions will never be broken.
There are many reasons why girl infanticide occurs. In India, the leading factor is the culture, beliefs and customs that India’s people have been following for generations. The domination of the male has been justified through culture. “May you be the mother of a hundred sons” is a blessing given to an Indian woman the day she is married. When a woman becomes pregnant, different mantras are performed to transform the coming baby into a male (“Genocide of India’s Daughter”). Why does girl infanticide happen?
Dowry is the illegal, but practiced, payment a girl’s family gives to the groom’s family in a marriage. This is a way of selling their daughter to another family. The Indian society, till this day, demands for arranged marriages. This only puts pressure to a girl’s parents to find a suitable groom for their daughter. When a family sets out to find a groom for their daughter, the make sure the groom fits their requirements: he must be from a family of higher status. However, the groom’s family also has requirements. If the groom were to accept the bride of a less status they want some sort of gain: bribery. At the day of marriage, the groom’s family demands goods from the bride’s parents. These goods include jewelry, clothes, furniture, white goods, cars, maybe even a new home (“Genocide of India’s Daughter”). To already poor parents, this idea can be something they cannot afford. They do not have extra money to spend on a wedding, even if it’s their own daughter. The parents are then put in a dilemma: if they have a daughter and wish for her to get married, they must spend the money. If they do not get her married, she will just be an addition to the expenses a family has to take account of.
“Raising a daughter is like watering someone else’s fields” (George). If the parents had the responsibility of arranging a marriage for the boy, they would be the ones receiving the goods. Therefore, most Indians have developed an attitude that raising girls is just an advantage to the family that the girl is going to get married into. In India, it is said that girls become a stranger once they are married. The parents of the girl spend their life nurturing, feeding, and spending money on the girl just to sell her off to someone else. When she is married, her parents then disown her and she can only come back to her house as a guest. She can never help her parents’ financial situation because her in-laws will not be willing to pay even a cent for the other side of the family. Her parents put all their hard work into this child so that she can use everything she learned into her new family, while her parents held all her expenses, including her dowry . This is why the son is known as the “bread winner” for the Indian family. The male is given the responsibility to carry on the fathers business and keep the family’s pride . When a parent dies, only the son is allowed to light the funeral pyre or it is said the parents will never go to heaven. If a daughter lights the funeral pyre, it is said that the person will go to hell, instead

sexual exploitation of women and girls

sexual exploitation of women and girls

At the end of the twentieth century, local and international forces have merged to escalate the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Policies, practices and crises are combining to increase both the supply of women and girls vulnerable to exploitation and the demand by men for women and girls to be used for their profit and sexual gratification. Sexual exploitation takes many forms, such as sexual harassment, incest, rape, child marriages, temporary marriages, female genital mutilation, pornography, bride trafficking, battering, sexual torture and prostitution. All of these practices violate women’s dignity and autonomy.

Globally, one form of sexual exploitation, prostitution, is becoming more normalized and industrialized, with some powerful agents and institutions advocating for its widespread legitimization and legalization. As prostitution has increased, the demand for women and girls has resulted in widespread recruitment and trafficking to fill the brothels, bars and street corners.

In July 1997, a group of survivors, activists and service providers came together from Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, North America and the Middle East to report on the situation for women and girls in their region and discuss efforts to combat sexual exploitation and provide services to victims. Participants in "Working With Women and Girls in Prostitution: Programs and Policies" focused on how sexual exploitation affects the physical health and mental well being of women and girls, and what obstacles prevent women and girls from escaping prostitution. Making the Harm Visible has its roots in that international meeting in New York City organized by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

collection of writings from women who are working to make the harm of sexual violence and exploitation visible. They speak out about their experiences, provide services to survivors, and create policies that force governments and communities to protect the rights of girls and women, not profit from their exploitation.

Women from every world region report that the sexual exploitation of women and girls is increasing. All over the world, brothels and prostitution rings exist underground on a small scale, and on an increasingly larger scale, entire sections of cities are informally zoned into brothels, bars and clubs that house, and often enslave, women for the purposes of prostitution. The magnitude and violence of these practices of sexual exploitation constitutes an international human rights crisis of contemporary slavery. In "Prostitution: A Form of Modern Slavery,"

In some parts of the world, such as the Philippines, prostitution is illegal, but well entrenched from providing "recreational services" to military personnel. In "Blazing Trails, Confronting Challenges: The Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls in the Philippines," Aida F. Santos describes the harmful conditions for women and girls in prostitution in the Philippines, with problems related to health, violence, the legal system, and services. In other regions, such as northern Norway, organized prostitution is a more recent problem, stemming from the economic crisis in Russia. In "Russian Women in Norway," Asta Beate HÃ¥land describes how an entire community is being transformed by the trafficking of women for prostitution from Russia to campgrounds and villages across the border in Norway.

Political changes combined with economic crises have devastated entire world regions, increasing the supply of vulnerable women willing to risk their lives to earn money for themselves and their families. Aurora Javate de Dios, President of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, discusses the impact of the Southeast Asian economic crisis on women’s lives in "Confronting Trafficking, Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation: The Struggle for Survival and Dignity." Economic globalization controlled by a handful of multi-national corporations located in a few industrialized countries continues to shift wealth from poorer to richer countries. In her paper "Globalization, Human Rights and Sexual Exploitation," Aida F. Santos shows us the connection between global economics and the commodification and sexual exploitation of women and girls, especially in the Philippines. Structural adjustment programs implemented by international financial institutions impose loan repayment plans on poor countries, which sacrifice social and educational programs in order to service their debt to rich nations and banks. Fatoumata Sire Diakite points to structural adjustment programs as one of the factors contributing to poverty and sexual exploitation in her paper "Prostitution in Mali." Zoraida Ramirez Rodriguez writes in "Report on Latin America" that the foreign debt and policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are primary factors in creating poverty for women and children. These forces leave women with few options, increasing the supply of women vulnerable to recruitment into bride trafficking and the prostitution industry.

Social problems such as sexual and physical abuse within families force girls and women to leave in search of safety and a better life, but often they find more exploitation and violence. Physical and sexual abuse of girls and women in their families and by intimate partners destroys girls’ and women’s sense of self and resiliency, making them easy targets for pimps and traffickers who prey on those who have few options left to them. These factors are evident in many of the papers from all world regions in this volume, such as Jill Leighton and Katherine DePasquale’s, "A Commitment to Living" and Martha Daguno’s, "Support Groups for Survivors of the Prostitution Industry in Manila."

Government policies and practices also fuel the demand for prostitution, as they legalize prostitution or refuse to enforce laws against pimps, traffickers and male buyers. In Making the Harm Visible, we see how countries with governmental structures and ideological foundations as different as the Netherlands and Iran, both promote and legalize sexual violence and exploitation of girls and women. In "Legalizing Pimping, Dutch Style," Marie-Victoire Louis exposes the liberal laws and policies that legalize prostitution and tolerate brothels in the Netherlands. On the other extreme, religious fundamentalists in Iran have legalized the sexual exploitation of girls and women in child and temporary marriages and the sexual torture of women in prison. Sarvnaz Chitsaz and Soona Samsami document this harm and violation of human rights in "Iranian Women and Girls: Victims of Exploitation and Violence."

Global media and communication tools, such as the Internet, make access to pornography, catalogs of mail order brides, advertisements for prostitution tours, and information on where and how to buy women and girls in prostitution widely available. This open advertisement normalizes and increases the demand by men for women and girls to use in these different forms of exploitation. Donna M. Hughes describes her findings on how the Internet is being used to promote the sexual exploitation of women and children in "The Internet and the Global Prostitution Industry." In this milieu, women and girls become commodities—bought and sold locally and trafficked from one part of the world to another.

How do we make the harm of sexual exploitation visible? In a world where sexual exploitation is increasingly normalized and industrialized what is needed to make people see the harm and act to stop it? The women in Making the Harm Visible recommend four ways to make the harm of sexual exploitation visible: listen to the experiences of survivors, expose the ideological constructions that hide the harm, expose the agents that profit from the sexual exploitation of women and children, and document harm and conduct research that reveals the harm and offers findings that can be used for policy initiatives.

First, listen to the experiences of survivors. The contributors to this volume speak eloquently, passionately and urgently for the voices of survivors to be heard and used as the basis for a global movement against sexual exploitation. The power of survivors’ testimony and their visible participation in political struggle is emphasized. The survivor testimonies of Jill Leighton, Alexia, Christine Grussendorf and Jenny speak clearly about the violence perpetrated against women and children in prostitution. In her poem, "They Are Showing Your Face," Victoria Marinelli shows us the harm of media sensationalization, which further exploits the victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. The sexual abuse, exploitation and torture of women political prisoners is recounted by Ladan Pardeshenas in "Women’s Activism for Freedom in Iran" and by Aida F. Santos in the Philippines in "Memories." Malka Marcovich, in "The Violence of Silence: Survivor Testimony in Political Struggle," calls upon her experience in interviewing the survivors of Nazi Germany’s "final solution" to argue the importance of survivor testimony in a movement against violence. Angel Cassidy strongly and succinctly states the need to speak out about the violence and exploitation in "Never Be Quiet." And in "Not Sex Work," Victoria Marinelli gives us her manifesto against redefining sexual exploitation as "sex work."

Second, expose the ideological constructions that hide and excuse the violence, exploitation and harm. We are bombarded with misinformation and ideological constructions of prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation that make the harm invisible, benefit the sex industry and provide cover for the men who buy and exploit women and girls. We need to expose the explicit and implicit rationales used to justify the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Contributors to Making the Harm Visible challenge the excuses men use for exploiting women and children, and call for everyone to do the same. The oldest excuse is the biological determinist one that men have to have sex. If they don’t have a wife or available partner, then buying a woman or using a child is the only alternative. Men often escape accountability for the harm they inflict by this simple, but false, assumption. The same underlying thinking applies to men in the military, who supposedly need to buy women as part of "rest and relaxation." In the papers from the Philippines and Cambodia, the presence of military personnel is sited as resulting in increased sexual exploitation of indigenous women. In "Corregidor Tales," Aida F. Santos describes the underground remnants of cells where "comfort women" were kept in sexual slavery for Japanese military personnel during World War II.

Historically, patriarchal religious ideologies have justified the sexual abuse and exploitation of women and girls in many forms, including child marriages, temporary marriages, and women’s lack of sexual autonomy. In the paper on Iran, several forms of sexual exploitation of women and girls have been legally instated under fundamentalist rule. In "Trafficking and Prostitution in Bangladesh: Contradictions in Law and Practice," Sigma Huda describes the no-win situation that girls and women face after being trafficked or prostituted. In countries to which Bangladeshi girls are trafficked, such as Pakistan, the victims face long prison sentences for illegal entry into the country, or under harsh Islamic law, can be stoned to death for fornication.

Liberal ideologies about sexuality also overlook the harm of exploitation by uncritically viewing all sexual activity, including prostitution, as forms of sexual expression that should be permitted and protected as individual choices and rights. This sexual liberal philosophy merges with the neoliberal economic policies and practices to rename prostitution as "sex work." This reconfiguration of sexual exploitation is condemned by numerous contributors to Making the Harm Visible.

The contributors to this volume also ask us to critically examine explanations of prostitution that search for the cause of "self-destructive behaviors" in girls or women’s personal deficits and defects. Although women in prostitution often suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, several of the authors urge us to see this as a symptom of the harm of prostitution, not as the root cause. Although, several authors discuss poverty and economic crisis as factors in compelling women and girls into prostitution, they remind us that this is what is fueling the supply, but equally important is men’s demand for women and girls they can buy.

Third, expose the agents that advocate for and profit from the normalization and legalization of sexual exploitation, whether they be individual men who buy women in prostitution, or governments and United Nations bodies that advocate for legalization of prostitution or the recognition of the prostitution industry as a legitimate economic sector. The Dutch government has legalized prostitution, legalized brothels and is putting into place a system of taxation to profit from the prostitution industry. The Netherlands is the leading advocate for the legalization of prostitution and redefinition of trafficking of women to include only those women who can prove they were coerced or deceived into prostitution. In "Human Rights: A European Challenge?" Malka Marcovich describes efforts to set new standards that will deprive women of their human rights in Europe as the European Union is being constructed. Mary Sullivan, in "Marketing Women in Australia" describes how Australia is incorporating legalized prostitution into its economic and tourism plan. In "Legalizing Prostitution: Legitimating Abuse," Donna M. Hughes argues against the legalization of prostitution in Eastern and Central Europe as a way to combat the trafficking of women from that region.

Fourth, document the harm and conduct research on sexual exploitation. The harm of sexual exploitation often remains invisible until someone focuses their attention on it and documents their findings. Often issues need to be theoretically reframed and different questions posed. Several women, Jill Leighton, Jenny, and Norma Hotaling, point out that even when there are visible signs of trauma in women’s and girls’ lives, no one asks the simple question: "What has happened to you in your life?" The contributors use their findings to describe and analyze the forces that compel women and girls into conditions of exploitation and, often, slavery. In "Strip Clubs According to Strippers," Kelly Holsopple systematically asks women about the verbal, physical and sexual violence that they were subjected to while working as strippers. Norma Hotaling reports on research she and others have done on violence against women in prostitution in "Women in Prostitution in the United States." In "The Health Effects of Prostitution," Janice G. Raymond surveys previous research and reports on the multiple physical and mental health problems suffered by women in prostitution, many of which lead to shortened lives or death. The contributors to Making the Harm Visible urge us to ask different research questions about the demand from men to sexually exploit women and girls and the rationales that are used to justify this violence. The Research Project on Men and Prostitution in Japan provides us with a strong quantitative base and framework on which to examine men’s use of women in prostitution. In "Why Men Buy Women in Prostitution," the findings from a survey of 2000 men on their use and attitudes towards prostitution are reported.

One of the most glaring problems in combating sexual exploitation is the lack of assistance for its victims. The need for services is poignantly evident in Minerva Kalenandi’s testimony, "You Need Some Place to Escape To," in which she describes being turned away from a domestic violence shelter even though she had sustained serious injuries from a pimp. Compared to services for other victims of violence, there a few services for prostituted women, resulting in women receiving little or inappropriate treatment. Since prostituted women are viewed with prejudice, they are often treated disrespectfully in treatment programs. Also, since few mainstream service providers recognize the harm in prostitution, the trauma the women have suffered is not addressed.

Innovative programs for women escaping sexual exploitation that address the harm caused to victims, though few in number, have been created in many world regions. Numerous contributors to this volume report on the services they are providing to victims of sexual exploitation. They describe innovative work and share ideas on programs and projects to assist women and girls. The founders of these programs bring a feminist analysis to the multiple problems faced by women and girls in situations of sexual exploitation. The women and girls are treated with respect and care to restore their dignity.

In "She Let Me Talk and She Listened," Jill Leighton describes how the simple act of listening can save a life. The workers and volunteers in these agencies reach out to women and girls on the street and in jails. In "Phoenix Rising," Kathleen Mitchell relates how the plan for Dignity House was conceived while she herself was in jail after being arrested for prostitution. Many of the service providers in this volume were themselves prostituted women who know first hand the lack of services for women trying to escape prostitution. In Phnom Phen, Cambodia, girls who have escaped brutality and slavery in brothels can find services at the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center. A representative from this newly found center writes about "The Sale of Women and Girls to Brothels in Cambodia."

The contributors describe model programs that provide services to women and girl victims of sexual exploitation and create a space for survivors to come to together to heal and find their voices to speak out and organize. In "Support Group for Survivors of the Prostitution Industry in Manila," Martha Daguno describes the first survivor’s group to be set-up in the Philippines. Other agencies and organizations, such as BUKAL (meaning spring), and Women’s Education, Development, Productivity and Research Organization (WEDPRO) are pioneers in developing services for sexually exploited women in the Philippines. Their efforts are chronicled by Aida F. Santos in "Blazing Trails, Confronting Challenges."

The involvement and leadership by survivors is emphasized in many programs. Working on an empowerment model these organizations work through peer educators. In "Casa de Passagem in Brazil," Ana Vasconcelos describes the empowerment and peer education model she uses with homeless street girls in Brazil. Norma Hotaling, in "First Offender Prostitution Program in San Francisco," describes their survivor run peer support program.

Women and girls trying to escape prostitution face fearsome odds. In "Breaking Free," Vednita Carter describes many of the obstacles the women face and their Afrocentric approach to providing services in Minnesota, USA. Pimps and perpetrators prey on the most vulnerable women and girls. Girls with disabilities are often targeted for exploitation because of their vulnerability. Claudia Vigil describes the work of the Homahi Foundation and its programs for mothers with special needs in "Prostitution and Mothers with Special Needs in Argentina." Services for victims of sexual exploitation receive little attention or support in most communities. Marlene Sandoval started the Psycho-Social Rehabilitation Center in Chile in one room in a house with no running water. She reports on the work of the center in this volume.

Some services to women escaping prostitution are combined with community education and programs that confront men’s harm to women. SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation) in San Francisco is the 1998 winner of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government’s Award for Innovations in Government for their cooperative work with the District Attorney’s office to create a program commonly referred to as "the John’s School." Norma Hotaling describes their original and successful work to reeducate men about the harm they cause in "The First Offender Prostitution Program in San Francisco."

Another important aspect to ending the sexual exploitation of women and girls is prevention. Zoraida Ramirez Rodriguez describes her education and prevention programs for schools and community organizations in "Preventative Action Against Prostitution in Venezuela."

Although the women in this volume come from all regions of the world, they share common goals and attitudes. They are survivors and visionaries who are not afraid to confront overwhelming problems and remain steadfast in their work. Most of them know that their goal of ending the sexual exploitation of women and girls is nothing less than revolutionary. In "Surviving Sexual Slavery: Women in Search of Freedom," Chris Grussendorf writes graphically, with a searing analysis, about what is done to women in situations of torturous sexual abuse and exploitation in prostitution rings. She also forcefully proclaims the sustenance and aspiration of the women in resistance to sexual exploitation, "We stay alive because we are women in search of our lives; we are women in search of freedom. I stayed alive because my belief in something better than what they offered was greater than their hatred and destruction. I stayed alive because I wanted to be free, more than anything, I wanted to be free. I wanted to live in a world of respect."

Organization and activism by women is essential to create change and end violence against women and sexual exploitation. In "Women United Can Make a Difference: The Situation in Spain and the European Union," Asuncion Miura describes how women working together changed public attitudes about violence against women and created services to assist victims of battering. Sarvnaz Chitsaz and Soona Samsami relate the importance of women’s leadership in political and social activism to end of women’s oppression and usher in true equality for women and girls in the world. Women must undertake the work of organization and advocacy for women because it is not in the interests of men to do this work, although there are a few men willing to stand against the oppression of women. These writers understand that when the deepest forms of exploitation, violence and oppression are named, challenged and ended and all the victims healed, there will be a true social, economic and political revolution for women.



INDIAN SOCIETY is still male dominated. Undoubtedly, in ancient time we found some examples of woman dominated clans. But since medieval times we have been observing only male dominated clans.
Today we are in 21st centaury, but we still want boy in our home. Nowadays a girl child is being killed before birth. In this brutal crime, everyone is a co accused. We cannot give anybody a clean cheat. Interestingly, according to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health in the US; the sex proportion unevenness is highest amongst the well-off and the well-informed people. This is irony of fact that, in India; male-female percentage increases with the echelon of learning. According to the latest survey; the per cent of a boy is higher than a girl and it is about 25 per cent.

Fascinatingly; such type of occurrence is higher in houses wherever the leader of the family unit has finished his schooling. This is the repercussion of a survey which had conducted by Subramanian. (Shri Subramanian is associated with Harvard School of Public Health in the US).
As per this study, the male-female ratio also increases with income. People of higher income groups prefer 14 percent more a boy than a girl whereas in the poorer sections the preference may be just four percent more.

Urban areas also reported higher sex imbalance compared to rural areas.

In this connection, the researchers have also used a nationally representative, population-based sample of household survey data provided by the Indian National Sample Survey Organization (INSSO) for five recent years: 2004/05, 1999/2000, 1993/94, 1987/88 and 1983. The INSSO survey covered the whole of the India except for a few unreachable and intricate areas.
This survey also reveals that the introduction of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act 1994 (PNDT) to stop the use of wrong know-how in this turf has botched to perfect the disproportion in the sex ratio.

The sex ratio undoubtedly signifies that the PNDT Act failed to stop sex disparity, because possibility of a boy increased to 10 percent in the period subsequent the accomplishment of the Act, while ratio of a boy was seven percent in the pre-PNDT stage.

There are distinguished variations among states. Punjab which is the richest state of India has the probability of a boy augmented to 37 percent compared to a girl. Karnataka has the lowest percentage in this regard. Here a boy is one percent higher than a girl.

As a whole, the shared result shows that unrelenting and strong son penchant; along with growing affordability and ease of access to technologies for sex determination is big threat for girls infant as well as for indian society

Arranged Marriages and Dowry

Arranged Marriages and Dowry

We are all familiar with the story : boy meet a girl , boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl gets married. For the majority of the western world, this is our ideal of a great beginning to a perfect marriage. It is important to realize that while India is very modernized in some aspects (i.e.. they lead the world in student's math and science scores and produce the largest amount of engineers in the world) they still keep to the tradition of arranged marriages. Marriages formed out of love AKA "love marriages" do happen in India but it is not the norm. It is an accepted fact that a person's family will play a role in picking the marriage partner.
While to many people raised in the west, this might sound odd. It is important to remember that in Indian society an arranged marriage is seen as an act of love. Since marriage is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make and because divorce is not accepted among most Indians, it is imperative that the marriage choice is carefully thought out and planned. How can a young person make such an important decision on his/her own? Instead, the family (usually the parents) look for certain traits in a marriage partner. Some desirable traits looked for in both male and female are: matching levels of education, matching cultures, close parental cities, matching religions, and matching vegetarians/non-vegetarians just to name a few.
Potential bride-grooms come under close scrutiny for several areas of the matching process. Do they have enough means to support the bride? Do they appear to be men who will make good husbands and fathers? Often, the bride will live with her in-laws after marriage in what is called a joint family. Because of this, the groom's family is also brought under close scrutiny. Do the women of the household seem well cared for? Do they have a big enough house for another person and grandchildren? Does the family have a good reputation?
Potential brides also come under scrutiny by the boy's parents. Since it is a commonly held belief that brides are the embodiment of that family's honor and pride, the girl must be from good family and have good manners. She should be respectable and have no taint on her name. Does she have the makings of a good wife and mother? Does she want to work after marriage or stay at home? There are so many factors to weigh, that I can not list them all.
Often, this turns into an interview process where photos are provided of the boy/girl in question along with bio-data about his/her life and family. If that meets with approval, arrangements will be made for the parents to meet the boy/girl and their family. Traditionally, however, the bride and groom would not even see each other until the day of their wedding. Today, while most marriages are still arranged, times are changing. There is usually a small courtship period where the bride and groom can meet and talk under the careful watch of a guardian. Also, if either one of the two do not want the marriage, it is likely to be cancelled. Very few family's today "force" marriages upon their children.
Of course, with any society, you have those people who just will not adapt and change. There are places in India where time has not moved forward. For those people, they carry on their lives as their parents have and their grandparents before them. Shockingly, there are still some forced marriages and child brides.
Which brings me to the issue of the dowry system....yes, folks it still exists. Now before you make that grimace of distaste, let me tell you a little about it. The dowry system has been in place since before the written record and it has been used by parents in every country imaginable, including America in older times. The point of the dowry system was to provide for the bride should something unfortunate occur with her husband such as death or divorce. As you can probably imagine, daughters can be extremely expensive offspring. Parents had/have to make a mad scramble to get enough wealth and material goods together to see their daughter well taken care of by the time she is of marriageable age. In Northern India, today this age can vary from 18-25 though exceptions do apply depending on socio-economic factors.
As you can see, the dowry system was something originally honorable in intention and provided for the independent wealth of the bride in a time when she was unlikely to work outside of the home. Like many customs and traditions, time can alter their original meaning and purpose. While the dowry system is still in place, it has become more of a "bride-price" system. The parents of a baby girl must come up with a respectable dowry (the term respectable is arbitrary, respectable dowry can be anything from $50 worth of material goods to $50,000 or more worth of material goods depending on the family's standing in society). If a good dowry is not made, the girl is unlikely to have a "good" match. This again, is mostly arbitrary. A good match for a very poor family might be marriage of their daughter into a slightly better financed family or a good match for a middle income family might be finding a husband that is a doctor or engineer. As you have probably guessed, there are very few brides who actually retain their dowry after marriage. In the most honorable of families the bride is allowed to keep certain items for her own use such as the bed and cooking pots she is suppose to bring with her and some of the jewelry. She is also allowed control over how the rest of the dowry is kept, spent etc. This situation is a very modern one and in place in very educated households.
The most common form of use of the dowry is not meant to be dishonorable and is far more practical for many families. More often than not, the bride's dowry gets absorbed into the household for the greater good of the entire family. Perhaps a bride's dowry may help provide food for the entire family over a lifetime, or allow the purchase of a refrigerator. For many families, they do not see anything wrong in this sort of dowry absorption simply because it aids the bride as well. Furthermore, if the groom's family is better due to the dowry, the bride will enjoy a better life than perhaps her own mother did.
Of course, there is always that dark side. While these situations are becoming rarer, they still occur often enough to warrant some discussion on them. There are those families who will use the bride's dowry as their own. Often in these situations, bride's dowry will be recycled for the groom's sisters' dowry. Sometimes, the groom's family uses the bride's dowry entirely for their own means and the bride does not benefit from it all. There have been horrible, true stories of the groom's family agreeing to one dowry and after the bride is married (and I might add, no longer a virgin) demanding more from the bride's parents. Threats of divorce are often used to entice the bride's parents to give more dowry. In a country where shame is brought down on the divorcee, parents of the bride will do whatever they can to save their daughters this shame. Occasionally, the threat of physical violence is used. There really is no way these type situations can end happily. Even if the bride's parents are able to scrape together more dowry, they will not be able to continue doing so and in the end the bride is either sent home in shame or sometimes killed in an "accident".
Often people do not realize the dowry system has repercussions in many different areas other than the obvious horrible one stated above. Given the fact that a girl's parents must provide a substantial dowry plus try to give her a college education or some form of formal education today, it is not surprising that the number of girl abortions are extremely high in India. Interestingly, India theoretically is a culture which places high value on females. The females of a family are the life-blood, the pride and honor of that family. It is a very contradictory situation to see such importance placed on females and then to see the abortion rates of female babies sky high. Most college-educated Indians I have spoken to, both male and female, stand in firm objection to the dowry system and see that the twisted form it has taken is responsible for the degradation of women. In these families, girl children are just as prized as boy children and parents are teaching their daughters of their own worth as a human being.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Status of Women in Indian Society

Status of Women in Indian Society
The worth of a civilization can be judged by the place given to women in the society. One of several factors that justify the greatness of India's ancient culture is the honorable place granted to women. The Muslim influence on India caused considerable deterioration in the status of women. They were deprived of their rights of equality with men. Raja Ram Mohan Roy started a movement against this inequality and subjugation. The contact of Indian culture with that of the British also brought improvement in the status of women. The third factor in the revival of women's position was the influence of Mahatma Gandhi who induced women to participate in the Freedom Movement. As a result of this retrieval of freedom, women in Indian have distinguished themselves as teachers, nurses, air-hostesses, booking clerks, receptionists, and doctors. They are also participating in politics and administration. But in spite of this amelioration in the status of women, the evils of illiteracy, dowry, ignorance, and economic slavery would have to be fully removed in order to give them their rightful place in Indian society.

The worth of a civilization can be judged from the position that it gives to women. Of the several factors that justify the greatness of India's ancient culture, one of the greatest is the honoured place ascribed to women. Manu, the great law-giver, said long ago, 'where women are honoured there reside the gods'. According to ancient Hindu scriptures no religious rite can be performed with perfection by a man without the participation of his wife. Wife's participation is essential to any religious rite. Married men along with their wives are allowed to perform sacred rites on the occasion of various important festivals. Wives are thus befittingly called 'Ardhangani' (betterhalf). They are given not only important but equal position with men.
But in the later period the position of women went on deteriorating due to Muslim influence. During the Muslim period of history they were deprived of their rights of equality with men. They were compelled to keep themselves within the four walls of their houses with a long veil on their faces. This was definitely due to Islamic influence. Even today in some Islamic countries women are not allowed to go out freely. The conservative regimes of Iran and Pakistan, for example, have withdrawn the liberties given to women folk by the previous liberal governments. Even in India the Muslim women are far more backward than their Hindu, Christian and Sikh counterparts. The sight of Muslim women walking with long 'Burkas' (veils) on their person is not very rare. The women are, as a matter of fact, regarded as captive and saleable commodities in Muslim families. One man is allowed to have so many wives with the easiest provision of divorce. The husband can divorce a wife just by saying 'I divorce you' under the provision of Muslim laws. This is what the emperors did hundred years back and the men are doing it even now in almost all Islamic countries. Even in this last phase of the twentieth century rich and prosperous men of Islamic countries keep scores of wives in their harems. It was natural outcome of the Muslim subjugation of India that woman was relegated to a plaything of man, an ornament to decorate the drawing room. Serving, knitting, painting and music were her pastimes and cooking and cleaning her business.
In the wake of Raja Ram Mohan Roy's movement against women's subjugation to men and British influence on Indian culture and civilization the position of women had once again undergone a change. However, it was only under the enlightened leadership of Mahatma Gandhi that they re-asserted their equality with men. In response to the call of Gandhi they discarded their veil and came out of the four walls of their houses to fight the battle of freedom shoulder to shoulder with their brothers. The result is that the Indian Constitution today has given to women the equal status with men. There is no discrimination between men and women. All professions are open to both of them with merit as the only criterion of selection.
As a result of their newly gained freedom Indian woman have distinguished themselves in various spheres of life as politicians, orators, lawyers, doctors, administrators and diplomats. They are not only entrusted with work of responsibility but also they perform their duties very honestly and sincerely. There is hardly any sphere of life in which Indian women have not taken part and shown their worth. Women exercise their right to vote, contest for Parliament and Assembly, seek appointment in public office and compete in other spheres of life with men. This shows that women in India enjoy today more liberty and equality than before. They have acquired more liberty to participate in the affairs of the country. They have been given equality with men in shaping their future and sharing responsibilities for themselves, their family and their country.
It is a fact that women are intelligent, hard-working and efficient in work. They put heart and soul together in whatever they undertake. As typists and clerks they are now competing successfully with men. There are many women working in the Central Secretariat. They are striving very hard to reach highest efficiency and perfection in the administrative work. Their integrity of character is probably better than men. Generally it was found that women are less susceptible to corruption in form of bribery and favouritism. They are not only sweet tongued but also honest, efficient and punctual in their jobs as receptionists, air-hostesses and booking clerks at railway reservation counters. As a matter of fact they are gradually monopolising the jobs of receptionists and air-hostesses.
Another job in which Indian women are doing so well is that of teachers. In country like India where millions are groping in the darkness of illiteracy and ignorance efficient teaching to the children is most urgently needed. By virtue of their love and affection for the children the women have proved the best teachers in the primary and kindergarten schools. They can better understand the psychology of a child than the male teachers. Small children in the kindergarten schools get motherly affection from the lady teachers. It is probably significant that the Montessori system of education is being conducted mostly by the women in this country.
Women have been serving India admirably as doctors and nurses. Lady doctors have been found to perform efficient surgery by virtue of their soft and accurate fingers. They have monopolised as nurses in the hospitals and nursing homes. Very few men have been able to compete with them in this sphere because the women have natural tendency to serve and clean. It is thus natural tendency found in women which motivated Florence Nightingale to make nursing popular among the women of the upper classes in England and in Europe. She showed the way to women kind how nobly they can serve humanity in the hours of sufferings and agonies.
Women's contributions in politics and social services have also been quite significant. We cannot fail to mention the name of Indira Gandhi who shone so brilliantly and radiantly in the firmament of India's politics. She ruled this country for more than a decade and took India victorious out of Pakistan-war which resulted in the historic creation of a new country, Bangladesh. In the field of social service Indian women have also done some excellent jobs. They have not only served the cause of the suffering humanity but have also brought highest laurels for the country. The name of Mother Teressa cannot but be mentioned. She brought the Nobel Prize for India by her selfless services to the poor, destitute and suffering people of our country in particular and the needy and handicapped people of the world in general. Today, we need the services of the educated women who can tour throughout the country and help in removing human sufferings. The Government is alarmed at the rapid growth of population in the rural areas in particular. Women volunteers can more easily take up the task of canvassing the advantages of family planning among the rural womenfolk. They can, more easily than men, carry on propaganda against hazards of unhygienic conditions under which the villagers live. In urban areas they can efficiently take up the task of visiting and teaching the orphans and the helpless widows in the orphanages and the widow welfare centres. They can train them in sewing, knitting, embroidery and nursing in which women by nature excel. They can also train them in the art of music and dancing.
But all this should not lead us to conclude that the women should look down upon domestic life. The main sphere of action for them who have not taken up jobs outside should be essentially a happy home which is their real kingdom and where their sweet manners and mature advices as wife, mother, sister and daughter make tremendous effects on the male members of the family. The progress of a nation depends upon the care and skill with which mothers rear up their children. The first and foremost duty of Indian women should, therefore, be to bring forth noble generations of patriots, warriors, scholars and statesmen. Since child's education starts even in the womb and the impressions are formed in the mind of a child while in mothers arms women have to play a role of vital importance. They have to feel and realise at every step of their life that they are builders of the fate of our nation since children grow mainly in mothers arms. They should also discourage their husbands and sons from indulging in bribery and other corrupt practices. This they can do only when they learn the art of simple living by discarding their natural desires for ornaments and a living of pomp and show. In many cases families have been running in deficit due to the extravagance of the housewives in maintaining a high standard of living. The result is that the earning male members of the family are forced to fill up the gap in the budget by corrupt practices. Corruption has been so far the greatest impediment in way to India's progress. Minus corruption India would have been one of the most developed nations of the world.
There is no denying the fact that women in India have made a considerable progress in the last fifty years but yet they have to struggle against many handicaps and social evils in the male dominated society. The Hindu Code Bill has given the daughter and the son equal share of the property. The Marriage Act no longer regards woman as the property of man. Marriage is now considered to be a personal affair and if a partner feels dissatisfied she or he has the right of divorce. But passing of law is one thing and its absorption in the collective thinking of society is quite a different matter. In order to prove themselves equal to the dignity and status given to them in the Indian Constitution they have to shake off the shackles of slavery and superstitions. They should help the government and the society in eradicating the evils of dowry, illiteracy and ignorance among the eves. The dowry problem has assumed a dangerous form in this country. The parents of the girls have to pay thousands and lacs to the bridegrooms and their greedy fathers and mothers. If promised articles are not given by the parents of brides, the cruel and greedy members of the bridegrooms' family take recourse to afflicting tortures on the married women. Some women are murdered in such cases. The dowry deaths are really heinous and barbarous crimes committed by the cruel and inhumane persons. The young girls should be bold enough in not marrying the boys who demand dowry through their parents. The boys should also refuse to marry if their parents demand dowry. But unfortunately the number of such bold and conscientious boys is very few. Even the doctors, engineers, teachers and the administrative officers do not hesitate in allowing themselves to be sold to the wealthy fathers of shy and timid girls. Such persons have really brought disgrace to their cadres in particular and society in general. The government should enact stringent laws to afflict rigorous punishment on dowry seekers, women's murderers and rapers.
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