Disclaimer; I wrote this blog to highlight some of the negative issues most women face in the south Asian culture.
You would think with how fast time is moving forward, our traditions and cultures would adapt with the rest of the world, but unfortunately that is not the case. All south Asian cultures are not the same, but there are a lot of similarities, like the treatment of the female gender. Women are still struggling for equality, my blog is targeted towards the women of the South Asian region who faced or face these issues, but a lot of women from all over the world can relate, because these are global issues. I feel like the south Asian cultural dynamic is deprived from a centuries old way of life where women were treated barbarously. Yes, there are improvements, but there is still a long way to go, women are yet to be given the same rights as men. Women constantly battle social and domestic injustice, it can come from people closest to them or from people they’ve never met before. The discrimination can begin from the moment of confirmation of a female fetus or during any period of their life.
From the moment a couple finds out that the wife is pregnant, the guessing game begins ‘is it a boy or girl’, nine out of ten times the couple is wished to have a healthy baby boy, and if you were to say ” I want to have a girl” the response usually is ” oh, really?!”, sometimes the “well wishers” will go as far as to say, “you, know you should have a boy first, girls are a burden”. All these passive and negative comments tarnish whatever joy the couple have, whether they like it or not the couple is left questioning the existence of the female child. Some of these couples make the most inhumane decisions (when they decide that they don’t want the female child) like female infanticide or forced abortions, if the male partner doesn’t want the child. You might be thinking ‘that only happens in the villages’, no it doesn’t, it happens all over, even in the most elite neighborhoods.
Girls who are fortunate enough to be given birth to, their journey in this unjust society is just beginning. As if just being a girl isn’t enough of a struggle, most girls have to fight for something as simple as an education. Unlike most western world countries, most pubic schools aren’t free, because of school fees/ tuition most low-income families are willing to compromise on their daughter’s education and instead send their sons into schools and even university. Girls are made to stay at home and are taught household chores or made to work with their mothers. In a lot of households when it comes time for the female child to go to college or university parents put a stop to her education, because girls who are too educated are dangerous to society, and they start speaking up for their rights.
For those women, who are born into progressive families, they finish their education and are allowed to work, but that’s where they might face some other challenges of society. First of all they have to deal with pay inequality and on top of that scrutiny and harassment from their male co-workers. In some parts of southern Asia it has been recent for women to start working in corporate jobs, it is still very much a male dominate society. Women have to put up with sexual harassment and sexist behavior, and even when they file a complaint they are met with skepticism and most times nothing is done to address the issue, so the female employee has two choices, either put up with it or resign.
A major topic for me concerning women and the south Asian culture is domestic issues i.e. marriage and in-laws. The practice of arranged marriage is still on going, and I am not against arranged marriages, as long as women are not being coerced. A lot of times women aren’t given a choice and are forced to marry complete strangers. Most women end up with men who don’t see forced marriage as a problem and they want to lay claim on the woman they just married and end up committing marital rape (a term most south Asian countries still don’t recognize). If you aware of south Asian culture, then you know what kind of impact the in-laws play in the life of a married woman. In most south Asian cultures women are unwillingly given the responsibility of having to cater to their in-laws every whim. Most women are treated harshly, being physically and verbally abused.
Having lived my life with interactions of this dynamic culture, I think its been long over due and it’s definitely time for a change. We have to let go of a centuries-old culture that was deprived from the barbaric treatment of women. If our elders turn a blind eye, its our job as todays youth to change the mindset and work towards building a future that is more empathic to women. We need to start with more justice for women, better laws and trained and aware authorities. There should be harsher punishment for sex offenders, dowry mongers, domestic violence against women, and sexual harassment. There needs to be education and work equality. Girls deserve the right to an education. Girls deserve to live and grow the same privileged life boys do!
-Ramblings of a Virgo