Ancient scriptures written thousands of years ago show relevancy in our lives although it is on us how we perceive and pass it on to the coming generations. The epic tale, The Ramayana echoes the notion of gender-appropriate behaviors by presenting its female characters with attributes that are in stark contrast to the characteristic of their male counterparts. Sita a devotee of her husbandan ideal wife yet her character deemed by the society based on mere assumptions. Krishna and Radha, couple adored by all, but fact “Parakiya” accepted by none. Ardhanarishwara preached by all “Ardha,” “Nari” and “Ishwara” means half woman and lord respectively which when combined means lord whose half is a woman. Why not woman portrayed as a half-man? As a coin has two faces so does the scriptures, before tossing the coin one must come across the picture of both sides.

Why such misogyny?

A question that bounds my conscience is, why people control the actions of a woman irrespective of her wish to defy the fact that a human being is free to act as per his/her wishes? why can not she pen down the chapters of her own life?. Are women less human?

How mythology shapes the notion of society?

The Ramayana was a reflection of the patriarchal values that structured our ancient Indian society.

Women are already strong, we need to alter the way society perceives their strength.

The epic attempts to justify the superiority of men and the subordination of women. Where the true value of women is found through her husband and not by herself. In which she as an individual is denied. Folklore are a glimpse of the complex functioning of society, inherited by people nevertheless blindly.

Why these notions perpetuate?

Ours is a Patriarchal society. A Society which came into existence when people started inheriting the time-honored writings, assembling their lives with the folklore nevertheless blindly. In which misogynism became a common custom where we see men holding primary power, predominant roles in political leadership, moral authority, special privilege, and control of the property.  Women are believed as incapable of taking core decisions. A complex stereotypical society in which women need to prove themselves at every stage of life. A Society that trolls on women drivers. They are undermined in almost every field. India is a country where the female population is less than that of the male population, In 2001 child sex ratio was 927 per 1000 males and the figure in 2011 shrieked to 919 and had been declining steadily.

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“Ladka hoga toh humara naam roshan karega, ladki toh paraya dhan hoti hai, hum ladki se paise nahi le sakte”

(A boy will take the family’s name forward. A girl gets married and leaves the house, we cannot take money from a girl) are put forth by parents who crave for a son. Today we are living in a revolutionized world. However, when addressed one shuts the eyes to the issue. Our society is yet to come up with these changes. As per a study carried out recently in 2018, gender bias kills 2,39,000 girls every year in India, withal figure does not include girls who are aborted even before coming to life simply for their gender. People often believe that girl is a liability and on the other hand, a boy is an asset. To most parents who worship goddess Durga while Navratri stillbirth of a girl child brings disgrace to them.

What are the problems faced by women?

Women in Indian society are respected but only when they are self-sacrificing and prove their capability, propensity, and aptness. They are respected when they speak less when they do not raise voice and fight for their rights, for chauvinist are “going out of limits”, they are expected to not have their aspirations their dreams are merely fiction. Their opinions are discounted. Women are mostly seen as financially independent. In most of the regions in India, women are not married but bought and sold in terms of dowry despite long incarnated law THE DOWRY PROHIBITION ACT 1961. According to an annual survey, dowry death comprises 40-50% of total homicides witnessed by women. Even the elite services of India are not immune to harassment of women officers at work despite having complete power and institution. 2019 global women, peace, security index released by Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security accompanied by National Geographic’s ‘The best and worst countries to be a woman‘ comprises of political, social, and economical status besides quantifies them through 11 indicators in which India stands on 131st rank.

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equality is not a concept , it is necessity alike gravity.

What are the factors responsible for such treatment?

Several factors are responsible for such social attitude towards women such as fatalist bent of mind, not treating woman as an individual, inaccessibility to education which stands as a barrier preventing the evolution of thinking, giving rise to stereotypes, constant stigma against their health and criticism in almost every aspect of their lives.

The last couple of years have seen a tidal wave of sexual allegations and accusations against men in professionally powerful positions across the globe. Not only women but men are also equally vulnerable to sexual harassment because the perpetrator is not mentally sound.

How to change perceptions of society?

How better women are treated is the best indicator to measure the development and health of society. The doors for the concept of individualism are closed which if practiced may bring a huge difference but it could only be brought by formal education and that to a huge population of more than 1.3 billion is a challenge. For this, quality uniform education must be conveyed in every region across India.

Teaching men in our society from a very young age that how powerful women are might lead to colossal change.

The need of the hour

Women have been strong since inception, they are exceptionally resolved, they cook, nurture children, carry out household chores and earn their livelihood yet they lack in the eyes of the society. We don’t have to make women strong which they already are but to alter the way society perceives their image and strength. Today women constitute near 50% population of India, and hence, no sort of development is possible without their inclusion and betterment.“Equaling equals will only persevere inequality”. This issue is like an old book unkempt on shelves required to be read and learned from.

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Akriti Singh
International Soft tennis player, in India no. 3. Studying at Dwarka International School, Dwarka. Contributor to The Eastern Herald.