By Sanchari Debgupta
Edited by Michelle Cherian, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
This society, since the ancient age, has worshipped the concept of Shakti, a female divine power, yet the irony reflects a harsh truth. The same power is being besieged and vandalized by the savage weapons of the patriarchal society. The daily instances of ceaseless violence against women forces me to question “are we born only to live a derogatory life?” I know I’ll never get an answer to it and hence I keep aside my courtesy and make a statement which will be frowned upon by many: “Our society is a hypocrite”. Hypocrisy is ingrained in every corner of the social structure we live (or probably try to survive?) in. If we think that it is the current situation which has led to the victimization of women, then we should definitely have a reality check.
Let us flip through the pages of ancient history. We will find how women were victimized by the lewdness of male dominance in that time as well. Greed for power led to wars, and the victor, needless to say, cherished the power to the throne as well as the power to dominate and oppress the female. Historical battles between ‘The Rajputs’ and the ‘Mughliya Saltanat’ vividly witnessed vandalization of womanhood where the Rajput women chose to die by poisoning themselves when their male counterparts got defeated in battle. The famous novel ‘Rajsingha’ by eminent Bengali writer, Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, portrayed a quintessential picture of that era where the female Rajput character ‘Nirmalkumari’ personified the bravery, strength and dignity of womanhood. She confronted and stood against the terror of ‘Aurangzeb’ even at the cost of facing the threat to forfeit her religion and life. The atrocity towards women came out in every statement made by the then Emperor when these two characters faced each other. Many such incidences of barbaric activities are evident throughout the novel.
I’ll simultaneously talk about the Hindu society and its viciousness before someone labels me a ‘religious’ zealot. Let’s look through the lens of the greatest epic ever written, ‘The Mahabharata’ where Draupadi, the ‘emerged’ daughter of King Drupad of Panchala, the wife of the Pandavas and one of ‘The Five Virgins’ was humiliated in a court full of the ‘educated’ and the ‘wise’. Who would have thought that the greed of her husbands to win the game of dice would lead to her ‘vastraharan’? Pandavas, of whom, one is celebrated as ‘Dharmaputra’ and one as the brave warrior, kept their wife as bait in a desperate urge to win the game of dice. Is this what we call ‘dharma’ and ‘bravery’? Ramayana saw Sita’s ‘Agnipariksha’ to prove her piousness and purity to her husband – another disgraceful and ignominious incident. Have we forgotten Mukhtar Mai? Fulan Devi? Or the Delhi victim, Nirbhaya? Women, in this way, have been chagrined quite often in this sojourn of their lives and presently the situation has become so grave that women are deprived of their basic rights to lead a decent life. Recent cases of Delhi, Kamduni, and Hyderabad speak for this claim.
So is it only the men to be blamed? Or are we, the women, equally guilty for what we face? Are we not aware of the innumerable cases of female foeticide, dowry system and other practices of social hypocrisy that have become a daily affair in our society? Who are the propagators? Only men? Certainly not. I have witnessed instances where women themselves pave out a way for their dishonour. We insist so much on women empowerment, but why don’t we talk about educating the society first, instead of just elevating the power of women? Not one particular sex can bring about a change. The devil is in all of us, in the society, men, women, everyone. The society will have to transform first if we want to tear apart the roots of violence. And if we can’t do that then there will be more candle marches, more protests and so on and so forth. But the question remains: Will that make any difference?
The author is a Research Assistant at Symbiosis International University.