Often we find Indian men of a certain class proudly proclaiming that ‘sharam’ is what distinguishes ‘their’ Indian women from any women in this world, i.e ‘Sharam aurat ka gehna hai’ (Shyness is like the jewelry that beautifies a woman).
I laid emphasis on ‘their’ in the first line because of the sense of possession that these men need to have (again) on ‘their’ women. Manusmriti preaches that ‘Women and cattle should be treated alike’. But hey, our ancestors were smart enough not to take this too literally. The women were made to feel good about it !
Their movement was checked with anklets, their hands tied down with bangles, their noses and ears pierced just like those of the cattle (There’s a belief that piercing certain points in the body helps to keep the person in control). Their necks burdened with necklaces, with vermilion or bindi on the foreheads to brand them married, and the head (sometimes face too) covered with their saree. Then, they were told that they look beautiful.
Thought of as dumb as the cattle, they were trained just like it too. Trained to follow the orders, to never object to anything, to simply keep enduring if any harm was caused to her. Then, she was appreciated for being obedient and docile.
Never taught any vocation to earn her own livelihood, she was made to be dependent on men. Quoting Manu again, “In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, and when her lord is dead, to her sons; a woman must never be independent.”
In addition, if the father didn’t marry off her daughter before puberty, it was believed that he committed a sin with her (Disgusted?). So, the chain goes like this, first, child marriage, simultaneously of course the dowry, then early unhealthy pregnancies, with concurrent and unending harassment at the matrimonial home, which is aggravated if she doesn’t give birth to a boy and in case the husband dies, she’s blamed for bringing bad luck and discarded by the society.
Shockingly, this mentality and this mindset still exists in the modern Indian society. Forget about the rural areas, even urban areas are plagued by it. As Dr. Ambedkar rightly remarked, ” No civilized society of today presents more survivals of primitive times than does the Indian society.”
Unfortunately, the positive aspects of our primitive times are eroding fast, while the negative ones seem to be undying ! It’s time for the Indian women to give up their shyness and rise to the occasion. Sharam humara gehna nahi, humari bediyan hain, inhe tod daalna hai !(Shyness is not our jewelry, it’s the shackles that we must breakthrough)