Security means for me the freedom to go out and do what I like without fear of mental, sexual or physical harassment. This is a very great freedom and it is not enjoyed by many women in my country. A basic tool of patriarchal oppression is gender based violence and so it is rampant and my state Madhya Pradesh is high on the list of crimes against women. Often it is the people within the home that are the worst offenders. The police and the judiciary do not do enough despite strong laws for women’s protection. This is because these crucial institutions are dominated by men captivated in a patriarchal mindset. Lack of Accountability means the arbitrariness of people in power whether in the family or in the world at large and especially in positions of governance due to weak systems of penalising people for their unjust actions. Once again it is within the home that there is the maximum lack of accountability. In the world at large this just gets multiplied as people do not feel constrained to work for the benefit of society and instead work for their own benefit. Transparency means that the reasons behind all actions should be open to all for scrutiny and debate. This is the bedrock on which trust and democracy can survive. If a person feels that someone else is withholding information then there will be distrust and cooperation will suffer and so will eventually democracy. Women continually suffer from a lack of transparency. Even my husband who is a slightly better male than most other men, often withholds information from me despite having been scolded time and again for this. At the societal level this lack of transparency is gargantuan and is harming the cooperation of peoples across the world. It is a wonder that a forum such as ours is being allowed to function so well and establish transparency globally. Fairness is Justice or as John Rawls said Justice is Fairness. Essentially it means being selfless. If one is selfless then one will automatically be fair because one wont act selfishly. It is extremely difficult to be fair. I have suffered from unfairness from childhood and have had to fight some bitter struggles for justice which continue even today. Social Injustice is a subset of Unfairness which is the direct opposite of fairness as defined above. In other words Social Injustice arises from the selfish actions of the powerful sections in society. In the case of women this injustice started many millennia ago even before settled agriculture and slavery came into being as tribes fighting with each other would abduct women from their opposing tribes. Women were very soon sequestered from fighting and big game hunting because it was necessary to keep them free from hard work lest their pregnant bodies be hurt. In those early days the life expectancy was around 25 years and so it was crucial for the survival of the human race that pregnant women were kept away from dangerous activities which became the domain of the men. This biological need was converted into a social subordination of women by the men and they slowly became more powerful. We all know what it has led to at present where women are in bondage throughout the world. Being a Woman I have suffered continuously from this patriarchal injustice and it has been compounded because I am also a Dalit and have had to face social injustice. Corruption is of two kinds. One is legalised and the other is illegal. The legalised corruption is that of drawing huge remunerations for unproductive and dangerous work like speculation on the stock, bond, commodity and currency markets which has brought the whole world economy to its knees. Illegal corruption is the taking of money in addition to the legal remuneration for doing legal or illegal work. India is beset by both kinds of corruption which result in miseries for the poor and especially for the women. The biggest impact of the legal corruption of financial speculation is that their is lack of capital for the survival needs of poor women and they have to work hard to get such essential things as water and firewood. All the above are manifestations of an imbalance in power in society that has developed historically. This power imbalance has to be challenged through activist actions both at the individual level and at the societal level. It is difficult but it has to be done. The established social and state structure is both oppressive and patriarchal. As women we must at all times fight for the removal of patriarchy in addition to the general demand for justice from the poor and deprived of this world.
Standing up to Fight Alcoholism
We were sitting there, a few hundred women, gathered to discuss the reasons for our poor reproductive health. It had been revealed in a medical survey that our average haemoglobin count was 7 milligrams per decilitre instead of the 12 milligrams per decilitre that it should have been. We were talking of various medical solutions when one woman stood up and said that as long as the men continued to drink and beat us up and make us work like chattels there was no way in which we could improve our health and our status in society. Immediately there was a roar of approval from the women. They unanimously said that the illegal liquor shops must be closed down. No sooner was this decided than we all got up from the meeting and went to a bootlegger shop nearby and told him to close it down. When he refused to do so we searched his shop, siezed his cache of liquor and took it to the nearest police station and deposited it there. Thus began a massive movement of Bhil tribal women against alcoholism and bootlegging under my leadership. The climax of this movement was when we siezed the illegal warehouse in one of the villages where the biggest bootlegger of the area used to stock his liquor. Anticipating our action he had come down with his armed goons to prevent us but when he saw the strength and determination of the women he backed out and the warehouse was sealed by us. This was the first time in the history of Bhil tribal women when they had stood up against the patriarchal pressures of their own society and also risen to force the state authorities to take action against the powerful bootleggers. However, the state authorities did not like this rebellion by the women and so they slapped false criminal cases on a few of the women and myself. We then went on hunger strike in prison against this injustice and succeeded in freeing ourselves unconditionally. This was an important victory because it proved to the Bhil women and I that we could stand up against injustice and oppression and improve our status in the face of a patriarchal dispensation.
What's Wrong with Catcalling Women?
I have come across an excellent exposition by Sunsara Taylor, that critiques from a Marxist perspective, the patriarchal bestiality of men – http://sunsara.blogspot.com/2011/08/whats-wrong-with-catcalling-women.html What’s Wrong with Catcalling Women? Recently a young woman asked me, “How do you explain to guys how frustrating it is to be hit on all day long? Whenever I tell them to imagine what it would be like, not to be hit on just once in a while, but every day everywhere you go, they always say, ‘That would be great! I’d have sex with every woman who propositioned me!’ They just can’t imagine why women would find this oppressive.” Here is my response. Men: imagine if every time you opened your mouth no one heard what you had to say. Imagine, instead, you were being humored – or ignored – based primarily on whether the listener thought they could get you to have sex with them. Imagine if half your professors or teachers never solicited your thinking in earnest. Imagine if you knew that despite your talents in any particular field – acting, writing, science, singing, or anything else – you would be evaluated on your looks and your perceived sexual availability. Imagine thinking you met someone who took you seriously and found your ideas and talents compelling, only to discover that really they were just “playing you” to get you in bed. Imagine this happened over and over and over again. Imagine if every morning you had to calculate – whether fully consciously or not – what clothes to wear based on whether you want to be seen (which means “sexy”) but therefore not taken seriously, or whether you will accept being invisible (ie: not “sexy) which means not even noticed by most. Imagine if all day long you were policed for these clothing choices – by everyone: by religious authorities, by employers, by professors, by your boyfriend or lover, by the men on the street, by the strangers who drive past you, by your girlfriends, by other women, by your parents, by the person who takes your money at the drugstore, by the people you sit next to on public transportation. Imagine none of them really see you; they see a “thing” that they feel entitled to judge. Too little sex appeal and you are invisible. Too much and you are a despised “slut.” Imagine, in other words, if you walked every day through a world that didn’t recognize your humanity. The problem with the way women are constantly catcalled, propositioned, and “hit on” is not merely a problem with too much sexual attention – although that is degrading. The bigger problem is that is being reflected in this constant propositioning is the way that this culture reduces women to objects of male sexual desire! (Or to breeders of children – a theme I will return to in other posts, but which is really just the “mirror opposite” and equally oppressive). This view of women as less than fully human, as objects to be used by men, is constant and pervasive. It is what connects the way that women are beaten like animals by their “lovers” every 15 seconds to the way the domination and debasement of women is sexualized in pornography to the way that women are “hit on” on – or ignored – all day every day rather than interacted with as full humans. All this combines to not only dismiss – but to discourage the development of and often to punish – the talents, ideas, curiosity, creative energy, intellectual capacity, insights, and full participation of women and girls in all aspects of society. This not only enslaves women, it holds back all of humanity! This idea of women as the possessions of men goes very far back in the development of human societies – to the first emergence of class divisions together with private property, the patriarchal family, and the state – and all the way up to this “oh-so-modern” U.S. capitalist society. It was with the emergence of oppressive class divisions that women’s sexuality had to be dominated by men – in order, among other things, to keep track of which children would inherit which property and which social position. For this reason, women were expected to be virgins before marriage and then to subordinate themselves to their husbands, sexually and as breeders and rearers his children. Ever since then, this patriarchy has been enforced through horrific violence, oppressive laws, misogynist culture, and dehumanizing myths – from the Bible (which insists on the stoning to death of non-virgin brides!) to the ritualized public shaming of sexually active women through today’s magazine tabloids to the way that men are trained, from a very young age, to oggle and catcall women. But this view of women is not innate in human societies. It emerged with class divisions and can and must go out of existence as those divisions are abolished. The same revolution aimed at overcoming all class divisions and all the oppressive divisions in the world flowing from them – from the plundering of the planet by corporations driven by profit, to imperialist wars of aggression, to the mass incarceration and police terror against oppressed masses here in the U.S. – is a revolution that requires breaking these chains that bind women. As Bob Avakian, the communist leader who has re-envisioned this revolution to be both viable and desirable in the 21st century, has made clear, the full liberation of women must be both a driving force and a dividing line in any revolution worth making! What does all this mean for you, my dear men? The next time you have the impulse to “hit on” some woman you hardly know, or to get to know a woman in order to proposition her, think not only of how degrading this is for that particular woman but also about what this behavior says about you. It says that you have taken on board the ideas that treat half of humanity as less than fully human, one of the key pillars that keeps the world trapped in the nightmare it is, and you that are acting in ways that help keep that oppression in place. If you want a different world in the overall sense – you have to be fighting for the liberation of women. You have to change not only your own attitude towards women (which includes, right now, ceasing to catcall, proposition, and hit on women who are just trying to go about their lives) but you have to be part of challenging the culture and other men who treat women this way. And you have to be part of fighting to get rid of the very deep underlying structures of class society that have led to this oppression and make it seem “normal.”
Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra on Social Impact Award short list
The work of the Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra and its trade union wing Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath has been short listed for the Times Social Impact Award 2011 – http://timessocialawards.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/organisation_detail… It would be nice if members could go to this link, read about our work and click on the support button to vote for our organisation. You may also enter a comment.
A Tribal Hero of the Indian Freedom Movement
Generally the Tribals in India fought the most bravely against the British Colonialists. However, except for a few mostly these fighters have been ignored by mainstream historiography. One such major revolt against the British in Central India was that of Tantia Bhil . Tantia was born in Birda Village in East Nimar district, in 1842 . His father was named Bhavsingh . This region fell under the direct rule of the East India Company. After the reorganisation consequent to the War of 1857, it was made a part of the Central Provinces. Like elsewere, the British had introduced the Zamidari system for collection of land revenue in this region too, wherein agents were appointed to collect the enhanced land revenue from the peasants. Tantia’s father was a small tenant farmer working for a landlord. He passed away in 1860, leaving Tantia to fend for himself. In the decade of the 1860s there was continuous monsoon failure for three years. The British refused to forego the collection of land revenue, putting the tenant farmers in a dire situation. Most of the farmers had to take loons. Tantia refused to do so and instead of this he beat up the landlord and his men when they insisted that he pay the rent. This was deemed a serious act of indiscipline , and the police immediately arrested Tantia. He was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment in Nagpur Jail in Maharashtra. Even after his release, he was constantly harassed by landlords , Sahukars or moneylenders and police and false criminal cases were lodged against him. He was also accused of having fallen in love with an upper caste girl Yashoda in Hirapur. At the end of the day , fed up with this endlees harassment in 1872-73, Tantia beat up the landlord’s men once again and fled to the jungles . He slowly built a team of armed men and began looting landlords and attacking police stations. He and his men were caught on many occasions but they maneged to escape from Jail in Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh . For a decade and a half , Tantia and his men defied the might of the British and their vassal landlords and sahukars . Most of the kings at that time were collaborating with the British. That is why these revolts of Tantia are important historically in having kept the desire for freedom alive among the people of India. In fact, the tribal leader and his brigade came close to establishing a parallel government. Tantia became famous for his Robin Hood style of functioning – looting rich landlords and distributing a big chunk of the loot among poor people. Bhil women regarded him as their saviour and brother and would tell their children of the exploits of their Tantia Mama or uncle. However, he was once again apprehended in 1888 through subterfuge and sentenced to death by hanging in Jabalpur district in Madhya Pradesh.
Mothers and daughters give voice to tribal problems
There are at least 15 tribal women and girls reporting from Bastar and other areas of Chhattisgarh state in India. SARADA LAHANGIR describes the march of the citizen journalists in this article below Posted Thursday, Feb 24, 2011 Womens Feature Service Government officials had claimed that wages had been paid to those working on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) job sites in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh. The villagers themselves, however, maintained that they had been paid only half the money due to them. It was this issue that Bhan Sahu, 36, chose to highlight in one of her reports as a citizen journalist. In her report, she pointed out that the concerned officials could not provide details of the exact amount of wages dispensed or how much money had been spent on materials for the work being done on these job sites. She also highlighted the fact that people were migrating out of the region in search of work because they did not have regular work, a trend symbolised by Atra village where almost 40 per cent of residents had been forced to leave their homes in search of a sustainable livelihood. Sahus report caught the attention of mainstream national newspapers like The Hindu, and before long more than 1,000 people who had been working on the MNREGA work sites here were paid dues that were hanging fire for months. That’s not the only story Sahu has done from this poverty-stricken region in one of India’s poorest states. She had also reported on the problems faced by the children of the area around Atra vilage. Many from the adjoining Sitafasa village could only reach the school in Atra by crossing a narrow rivulet that lay between the two villages. And during the rains, these 70 children of Sitafasa faced lot of danger while making it to school, because the rivulet was inevitably flooded. While no newspaper or television channel had bothered to report on this, Sahu found it worthy of attention. After her report came out, the state government finally sanctioned funds to build a bridge over the rivulet, a demand that the local people had been making for a decade. Then there was another story Sahu did from Rajnandgaon. It highlighted how women there had got together to remove a liquor shop from the area. Easy access to liquor had seen household budgets shrink and, of course, rising alcoholism among the men in the community. Again, this was an issue that did not attract any media attention, but for Sahu having witnessed the distress of the local women at first hand it was a concern that needed public attention. So who is Sahu? She is from the OBC (other backward caste) community, a widow and mother of two – one son, Anwinsh, who is studying in class 11 and daughter Pratikshya in class 7. And here’s how she explains her own evolution from an ordinary woman to an activist-journalist: I have studied only up to Class Eight and couldnt continue my studies because of poverty and lack of facilities in my village. Hunger, unemployment and deprivation marked our lives. I then joined a local organisation, the Ekta Parisad, as an activist working for the cause of tribals and the poor. In the course of her work, Sahu got to understand the ground realities of the local people and also realised that the mainstream media did nothing to focus on issues that really mattered. I felt helpless because reporting seemed a difficult job, which needed high qualifications and communication skills, she says. Fortunately, that was when CGNet Swara, a new audio-based citizen journalism service, and India Unheard, a community news service launched by Video Volunteers, entered the picture. They trained her to be a citizen journalist and provided her with a platform to do such work. Today, her regular reports from the grassroots are giving a voice to poor tribals and oppressed women. After the death of her husband about five years ago, she found herself without the support of even her husband’s family. That was when she decided to dedicate her life to the people. Two years ago, she began her reporting career. At that point, she was the only woman doing such work in these parts. Things have changed now. Today, there are at least 15 women and girls from tribal communities with little education, reporting from the region – Rajnandgaon, Bastar, Sarguja and Mahasamun districts. Take the 42-year-old dalit, Rajim Tandi, of Pithoda village in Mahasamun district. The daughter of a wage labourer working in a cement factory in Bargarh in Orissa, she lost her father in a factory accident when she was only a teenager. The family was in a crisis. Her uncle had pocketed the compensation given by the company and even attempted to sexually harass her mother. Finally, her mother decided to migrate to neighbouring Chhattisgarh, but this meant that Tandi missed out on a proper school education. That same traumatised teenager is now a citizen journalist and a source of inspiration for many young girls in her community. Her own daughters, Astha, 15, and Prerana, 14, are reporting for the Deshbandhu Balpatrakar page. Deshbandhu is a newspaper published from Raipur. Like Sahu, Tandi too has raised the issue of corruption on the MNREGA job sites through interviews with farmers on the CGNet Swara. In fact, the Chief Minister’s Office responded to her story by calling her directly to say that they were looking into the allegations of corruption that she had reported. Says Tandi, my mother and I have faced a lot of challenges. The media ignores people like us. Take an issue like the right to food. It should be a priority for the media, but it is hardly picked up. That is why when I heard about CGNet and India Unheard I decided to report for them. It was a golden opportunity for me to highlight the issues of the people. Sahu and Tandi, as citizen journalists, are pioneers in a state where men have completely dominated journalism. They may not have education and may come from very poor, rural backgrounds, but they have so much to share from their experiences of working with people. By picking up their mobile phones and talking into it, by using their digital camera to record the people they meet in their day-to-day work, they are breaking the silence and bringing to the fore the unseen. Observes Subhranshu Chowdhury, senior journalist and founder of CGNet Swara, The majority of journalists in places like Chhattisgarh earn their main income from taking a cut from advertisement revenue and not from their salaries. The majority, in fact, does not get a salary. Given this, they are not in a position to report on the corruption because it is these same people who are the main generators of advertisement revenue. He adds, Concerned citizens like Bhan and Rajim are actually breaking that vicious cycle when they report what they see while working with the people. According to a 2005 survey by the media organisation, Charkha, only an abysmal two per cent of media space went to cover issues related to people – like land, forest, water, and so on. It is this trend that Bhan and Rajim are helping to change. Many mainstream journalists are raising the concerns that were first highlighted by them. In the process they are changing the very nature of Indian journalism. Says Alok Putul, Editor, Raviwar.com, Given that in a state like Chhattisgarh there are very few women journalists in the field, this initiative by Bhan and Rajim will add a new chapter in annals of the media and inspire other women to take up journalism as a full-time profession. We, as part of the journalist fraternity, need to encourage and support them. http://www.thehoot.org/web/home/story.php?storyid=5143&pg=1…1
Offer of Gold instead of Empowerment for Women
A news report in a daily here in Indore recently said that the government had announced gold coins would be given by lottery to those women who underwent the sterilisation operation. The pressure on the administration to meet sterilisation targets set by the government has forced them to announce such sops. Very much like some sellers of shampoos who too lure customers by advertising that gold coins are hidden in a few of the bottles. This is the farcical culmination of a population policy that sidesteps the issue of patriarchy and puts the whole burden of population control on women. The family planning targets that are set have to be fulfilled by the lowest cadre of health workers who also are women. While the Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANM) are paid government servants, the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) are more or less voluntary workers who are given only 150 rupees per female sterilisation and 200 rupees for male sterilisations. They are also given Rs 350 for encouraging pregnant women to deliver their babies in hospitals instead of at home. When a woman becomes pregnant the ASHA has to sniff her out like a sniffer dog and then make sure she takes all the vaccinations and other ante-natal care. They do not get paid for the post-natal care. The ASHA has to spend a lot of time in this and also in searching for candidates for strerilisation. Women doesn’t agree easily to take ante-natal care or go to hospitals for delivery or for sterilisation. Only if there are complications do women want to take help from the ASHA or any other person or relatives. This is the tendency here as the women do not want to lose time as they are already over burdened with work. Only sometimes the ASHA succeeds in getting a woman to take help and the process starts and they have to go to the designated government hospital for all treatment. Government hospitals are far from their homes and going there costs time and money. Sometimes this distance means that when labour sets in the women cannot go to hospital because ambulance services are also not provided properly and they are too poor to hire vehicles. If the woman can not reach the nominated hospital and the birth takes place at home then the ASHA loses her payment of 350 rupees regardless of the time and money she might have spent on the woman. The Health department has lost all its welfare orientation and is using a business mind to lure women into opting for sterilisation. Women do not have any inclination to bear more babies but it is the patriarchal pressure to bear babies till enough boys are born that makes them go through this laborious process time and again. There is no guarantee for old age securty. The Indian government has made many rules and regulations for women’s healh care but they are all on paper not on the ground. There are no concrete efforts to provide good health facilities for poor citizens . The Economic Survey by the Central Government puts the State of Madhya Pradesh in a poor light with Infant Mortility Rate females of 72 /1000 and for males of 68 /1000 in the state. Another interesting statistic is that only 2,385 males have been sterilised in the over one lakh family planning operations that have been done in the Indore division. This shows that men do not want to bear the responsibility of population control. A government surgeon said that males are prevented by their family because they are the bread earners. This is not true because many poor women are working and running their families and also going through the sterilisation operation. If the government really wants to take care of the poor women then male ASHA should also be inducted along with female ones to change the mindset of the men who dominate decision making in this regard. Society is male dominated and there is no open debate over health related issues. How can the women remove these social obstacles and motivate the men for sterilisation? Motivating the men in addition to the women is like giving water to the roots instead of the leaves. Women are not made only for giving birth to babies and for fulfilling the targets of sterilisation. Does anybody ask women what they want in their lives? No, instead the Government thinks they are like idiots who can be fooled with gold coins. It is seventeen years since the Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 stated in Principle 8 – “Everyone has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.States should take all appropriate measures to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, universal access to health-care services,including those related to reproductive health care, which includes family planning and sexual health.Reproductive health-care programmesshould provide the widest range of services without any form of coercion.All couples and individuals have the basic right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information, education and means to do so.” Yet the government cannot think beyond bribing women to undergo sterilisation because it does not want to empower them to challenge patriarchy and take their own decisions. This international women’s day we have to dedicate ourselves to freeing the millions of poor women from the clutches of a fatal patriarchy that stifles them.
Planning for Women's Issues
The Planning Commission of India has launched a website (http://www.12thplan.gov.in/) to invite contributions from the general public for preparing the approach paper for the forthcoming 12th Five Year Plan ( 2012-2017). Many topics have been put up for discussion. However, two crucial issues with regard to women were not there. I have now submitted them and let us see whether the moderators accept them for discussion. Meanwhile I am flagging these two issues here. The first is with regard to the overall reproductive and sexual health of women. The government health system is focused at the moment only on safe motherhood and is not providing adequate gynaecological care and sexual health services to the women. Most of the women do not receive free services in this regard. All attention is given only to ante-natal and post-natal care. However, women are not only bearers of children and they suffer from many other reproductive health problems like white discharge, hazy sight, dizziness, itching in vagina, waist pain, lover abdomen pain, burning in urine, continuous cough, prolapse of uterus, irregular menstruation, pain during menstruation and uncontrolled urination, which are all related to reproductive tract infections (RTI) of one kind or other. There is no open discussion in society or even between women regarding these. The Auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) too are not trained to advise women about these problems. Even if some women pick up the courage to speak about these problems to a doctor, mostly there are no gynaecologists posted in Primary Health Centres (PHC) and Community Health Centres (CHC). Women suffer in silence without realising the seriousness of these problems. Ultimately when things become life threatening poor women are advised to remove their uterus which is called the “burra operation” by them as opposed to sterilisation which is known as the “chhota operation”. They pay Rupees 10 to 15 thousand for this but they don’t get relief even after this because the problem continues to lie in the reproductive tract. They live their painful lives spending time and energy for the care of the family and also in doing earning work either as agriculturists or as labourers in cities. The major cause of RTIs is that women use just one cloth during their menstrual period and when they are working they wear it for the whole day and can’t wash it. They come back from their work in the evening or night and then secretly wash the cloth in dim light and dry it covered with another cloth in the shade. There is no space in their houses and also there is a taboo against drying the cloth in the sun. This data has come from my research in slums of Indore. Even though the government is now thinking about this problem and there are moves afoot to provide free sanitary napkins to poor women this needs a lot of thinking. Use of sanitary napkins requires a change in mindset and also the wearing of panties. There is the associated problem of disposal of the napkins. Moreover, even if napkins are to be distributed then those produced through Self Help Groups of Women using the new napkin making machine developed in South India should be used instead of purchasing them from Multinational Corporations. Thus, whether it is overall reproductive health or menstrual hygiene there is a serious need for awareness work both among women and men to break the stranglehold of patriarchal taboos. This has to be complemented with the provision of adequate laboratory testing and gynaecological care at the PHCs and CHCs nearest to the poor women. The second issue that oppresses women is the undervaluation of their home care work. This work is crucial for the continuance of the human race but since it is done within the home and does not come into the market it is not valued. And so this tremendous contribution to the economy is not accounted for at all. Often these days due to the increasing poverty women have to work outside also in addition to their domestic care work. Thus, they have to bear a double burden. Since there is no way in which poor families can get outside help for this care work as is done by more well to do families, the only way in which the women’s double burden can be relieved is that men also take responsibility for some of the family care work. Unfortunately once again there is a strong taboo against men doing care work and such men are considered to be weak by a highly patriarchal society. In recent times many economists have valued the work done by women in the home on the basis of the time spent on it. There is a need for the value of the family care work of women to be recognised and publicised so that men can be encouraged to take on this work as well and reduce the double burden on the women. The common thread through both these problems is that of patriarchal norms which prevent women from discussing their reproductive health problems and seeking solutions for them and which also prevent men from doing family care work and reducing the burden of women. This requires a massive Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign involving both print and electronic media and also general word of mouth.
Every Woman is a hero
I do not subscribe to the practice of naming some people as heroes. All women are fighting for their rights in some way or other. Especially the poor women who have to bear the responsibility of both earning and caring for the family. Moreover, there are many women who are forced into sex work due to circumstances beyond their control. I have been moved by anger at this injustice that is being meted out to women and have gained inspiration from the brave fight that these women are putting up. That is why I like Pulsewire so much. Whenever I log onto Pulsewire and read the stories of fellow members I feel a rush of excitement and a comfortable solidarity. We are all heroes together.
A Futile Ten Years of the Save the Girl Child Programme
The latest Indian Census data for 2011 shows that the female to male sex ratio has once again gone down over the last decade in the same way as it had done in the two earlier censuses in 1991 and 2001. Most people in society do not believe that there is any shortage of females. They are not aware of the census data. They follow their own volitions till they don’t face any problem. They don’t think about the larger problem of a lowered sex ratio. They are practical people who are more concerned with having more male children because that is a better option in a patriarchal society. But the government cannot leave this matter to deteriorate. There are differences between the lower and upper classes in their life style . Middle and upper classes are literate and have knowledge about all things but even then they are in the forefront of doing pre-natal diagnostic tests to determine the sex of the foetus and then aborting it if it is a girl and thus reducing the sex ratio . Why ? because they follow their societies’ custom that males will not only continue the lineage of the family but also look after the old. There is the same thinking in the lower working classes also. However, the lower classes cannot afford to pay for the sex determination tests and the abortions and so they give birth to more babies so as to have male progeny. Thus patriarchy is all pervasive and while it leads to female foeticide in upper classes it results in more children in the lower classes. Saving the Girl Child is a part of the health care programme of the health department and there is also a Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prevention and Regulation) Act. However, since nothing is being done to counter the deeprooted patriarchy in Indian society all these have failed. The Census report had shown that the child sex ratio (0 – 6 years) was 932 girls for 1000 boys in 2001 in Madhya Pradesh and the Census data have reported that the child sex ratio has worsenedd in 2011 to 912 girls per 1000 boys . It is clear that the government has failed in its efforts to implement the Save the Girl Child Programme. Since the wound is inside, applying an ointment outside has meant that the patriarchal mind set has remained intact and led to a decreasing female sex ratio . Now the time has come to realise this and hammer the patriarchal social trends in which males have to be involved to improve the status of women. This is because males are at the power center in society . The Government calls for opinions from activists , NGOs and women’s groups while making plans but when it goes to implement it still functions with a patriarchal mind set . The media too publishes only the pressnotes distributed by the government instead of the constant criticism being levelled by feminists of the government’s patriarchal programmes. The officials at the higher levels of government do not listen to the feedback coming from the lower levels otherwise corrective action would have been taken much earlier instead of waiting for ten years.