Gender Discrimination

” I don’t want this vacation to end, I wish I had the power to freeze time” said my best friend. I was catching up with her at her parents’ place when she was here on a 4-day holiday a couple of weeks ago.

” I am very lucky and grateful to have gotten an extra 4-day holiday this year.” She was teary at this point. If she wants to visit her parents she needs to seek requisite “GATE PASSES” by informing each and everyone who has a ‘in-law’ suffixed in relation to her irrespective of age. I could see the pain in her eyes, the pain of being deprived of her basic rights. The right to be a  DAUGHTER.

Recently I have heard another friend say, “I hardly visit my Mom these days.” If it was Linda saying this in Auckland, I wouldn’t blink an eye. But when Suman  saw the confused look on my face she felt the need to explain her previous statement. She told me – “The home I grew up in, my parents’ house does not feel the same anymore since my dad’s death. I get her Mom to visit me and spend quality time with me and my kids at our house rather than spending my holidays at my parent’s house. I call it my brother’s house now and not HOME anymore”.

How many of you would agree that this is a very common problem that some Indian married women face? And why do I feel that most of them would prefer to remain quiet?

One thing I strongly detest about Indian marriages is this – marriages in our country aren’t about happiness and contentment of both husband and wife, it’s about how much a woman can compromise and mould herself in her NEW HOME.  Women spend their lives standing on a measuring scale believing that the more their sacrifices weigh, the better wives they become.

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For a girl, specially for the ones like me, who don’t want to conform to the age old societal rules, parents are always our first preference and the place where they live is what we call our HOME. Getting married doesn’t change one’s identity – we are the daughters first and everything else later.

When asked if I’d change my name after I got married, I once replied, “But my name is mine just as your name is yours’”. Not that my husband has an unpronounceable last name. His last name is Srinivasan.

My friends from primary school were able to track me down 25 years later on FB using my given name. We had a reunion 8 years ago. All of us have changed so much, we didn’t recognise most of them. The names that were etched in our memories of spending the growing up years together helped. It was a hilarious game to identify the face and link it to the name.

There are many instances when I have been questioned if I was married to my husband. The most recent one in the 2016 when we checked into a hotel in Delhi, not an ordinary one by any standards, it was the Radisson Blue and during the check-in process I was questioned as to why I don’t have the same last name as my husband. I said “coz I choose not to”. It stunned the man who was manning that desk that he apologised later.

I have always been vocal about this which portrays me as an amoral woman to many.  I am mostly greeted with derision and disrespect, by fellow women folks. I fail to understand to this day how a girl’s  “gotra” changes the minute the 3 knots are tied on the sacred thread around your neck. A Gotra is the lineage or clan assigned to a Hindu at birth. The system is patrilineal and the gotra assigned is that of the person’s father. I believe I don’t cease to be my father’s daughter after getting married as my lineage doesnt change.

But most Indians aren’t blessed with this. If we are expected to give utmost importance to our husbands and their families, then our commitments and duties should be given equal priorities. Love and respect, in any form, has to come from within and can never be imposed. And a married woman in India is  victimised for no fault on her part – her aspirations are never esteemed, her wishes not granted and her individuality not respected. I have seen this happen with a  couple of girls.

Most Indian women happily and readily make this sacrifice in the name of being responsible WIVES. I just cant fathom the consequences it follows. If you are willing to sacrifice your Identity, Your parents for others, aren’t you teaching the same to your daughters? The two people, who succeeded in raising a sensible and strong woman, need her now, when they are not physically and mentally as strong as they were earlier. Isn’t it our duty to give them our maximum time and support, instead of trying to portray some pseudo love and peace in the family?

My husband loves me, he definitely  knows my duties towards my parents and lets me  be with them when needed.

If His upbringing was no different in any way to mine?  If His parents did not make more sacrifices and mine made less? Then why do girls need permission to visit their parents? This, I believe is GENDER DISCRIMINATION in the real sense?

How many of you feel it’s wrong? How many of you feel the need to change it? How many of you are willing enough to stand up for yourself, for your parents, for your rights? Very few of us are blessed with in laws who understand this need of girls and thus support them. But majority of them are suffering silently. Unless all of us unite and act in congruity, nothing is going to change soon. The ones who dare to go against their husbands and take this step are being criticised and  their upbringing condemned. It pains me to see this plight of Indian women. They are so used to accepting wrongs that standing up for the RIGHTS looks like the scariest thing to them.

I wish it changes someday, very soon.  I wish none of our parents are left alone and unwanted when what they deserve is only love and care! I wish we realise that no relation can ever be maintained at the cost of another ! I wish we believe in ourselves and we be a role model to our next generations.

I am very lucky, I have 2 homes – HOME – the place where I was born, well even my dad was born in the same house and then PA which we (my husband and I) call home. I am very grateful and can’t thank my parents enough for brining up us girls no different to any boys I know. For instilling in us the values and the strength not just to become good and responsible wives and daughters-in-law but also to be good and responsible daughters.

Married couples are liable to take care of both set of parents, not just the husband’s.

Sankirt Galande started this petition with a single signature, and now has 35,444 supporters. This needs 50000 signatures before it can be submitted to the PMO and the

– I believe, support and practice this. Do you?

Even if we can’t change the law, lets change the “mindset”.

By signing this petition you are also morally committed to it.  No matter what you do, or who you are, each of us have the capacity to bring the change in our own way as long as we truly want the change.

Lets keep the ball rolling, share the petitions on your fb walls, tweet and retweet it, tag your like minded friends and relatives, more importantly tag the differently-minded people whose mindsets actually require changing.

 

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