India has one of the fastest growing youth populations in the world. In spite of India’s reputation for respecting women, to an extent to treat her as a goddess, the moment a baby is born, the first thing comes to mind is “boy or girl?” Of all the rich G20 nations, India has been labeled the worst place to be a woman. Since time immemorial, women continue to be challenged by patriarchy even today. We talk about gender equality and women empowerment at conferences and seminars all the time. A lot of women are coming forward to bring about a change. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the ground reality completely.
In India, women find it difficult to exercise their rights on several occasions & finds it a really tough challenge to born in this country of male –dominant society. Here are a few instances:
Safety : Roaming alone freely at night or even in day : The brutal gang rape of a 8-year old in Kathua,11-year old in Surat (& other in Manipur) ,23-year-old student in New Delhi and the wave of outrage that followed brought to light the daily suffering of many Indian women. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest not just rape but the discrimination many women in India often have to live with throughout their lives.
A lot of women travel alone at night but what lurks in the shadows is a constant feeling of threat to their safety. They may be stalked down the road, passed lewd comments at, or harassed sexually. It is not without reason that a woman or her family hesitates about her staying out till late at night, thanks to repeat assaulters that crowd the streets.
2) Female foeticide and Infanticide : Even before the commencement of pregnancy, expectation of a male child builds up. Further, the female is not considered a successor as she would move on to another family. Regardless of existing stringent laws against fetal sex determination, the state of affairs is completely different and Illegal abortions are overpowering. Thus, the fact is that the right to be born and right to live is being denied to the girl child.
3) Gender biased Indian Society : As soon as children are born, society identifies them as either “she” or “he.” As the girl starts growing, she is gradually made to exposed to a set of rules & limits defining appropriate feminine behaviour in a given culture, which is known as “gender norm.” Discrimination with girls at every stage by parents, teachers, or society is likely to develop feelings of inferiority in them.
4)Marriage Challenge : Child Marriage/Teenage Pregnancy/Being unmarried for long/Dowry issues :
a) Despite the laws increasing the legal age of marriage to 18 for girls, there are strong cultural pressures on parents to marry daughters early. Investing in girls’ education is perceived as a waste of resources .
b) Early marriage usually translates into repeated pregnancies at a tender age when the body is not fully prepared for childbearing.
c) A woman, who has come of age, often finds it difficult to remain unmarried for too long. There is an unnecessary show of concern among people who, while trying to investigate the actual reason behind not marrying (affairs? physical ailment?), also convince a woman that she cannot live without a man.
d) Dowry is prevailing to the extent that birth of a baby girl is considered a huge burden to the family in certain communities. This further exposes them to a higher risk of domestic violence and abuse, increased economic dependence, denial of decision-making power, inequality at home, which further perpetuates discrimination, and low status of girls.
5)Immoral Trafficking & Sexually Transmitted Diseases :
Trafficking includes the exploitation of girls by pushing them into prostitution, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, and trade in human organs..From All this, force them to lead a life of indignity, social stigma, debt, bondage, and a host of ailments including HIV/AIDS.
6) Women A “Sex Object”
From a beggar sitting @ roadside under the sun to a boss sitting in an air-conditioned office ,almost everyone looks a lady with a feeling of “LUST”.If there is an issue of Casting Couch in a glamorous film industry,same prevails in other sectors where the ladies are generally tortured by colleagues,supervisors etc.for sexual favors (sometimes,as a shortcut to promotions , better appraisals & secure jobs).
So , India has the fastest growing youth populations in the world with Girls below 19 years of age comprise one-quarter of that.Still, the majority are out of school and gets caught in the cycle of early marriage, repeated pregnancy, and poverty.
So,family and society together can lead girls toward the positive psychology of increasing optimism, strong social connections, and healthy self-confidence.