I am a 22-year-old girl, born and brought up in India. Though India is a diverse nation and the second largest democracy in the world, it has a long way to go in terms of having women live free lives. Though our nation is progressing, the orthodox mentality of society towards females has not changed much! Here’s what I go through on almost a daily basis:
Society believes that it is important to have a son.
When I was born, my parents were really happy because they never discriminated between genders, but they were made to think that it would have been better if I was a boy because I already had an older sister. Why is it okay to have two sons and no daughter but not two daughters and no son? Are we surprised that female feticide still exists in this country?
My father said, “She will be my ‘son’.”
Why can’t I just be his daughter and make him proud rather than becoming his son? Females in India are always treated as the weaker sex. People think they always need a man by their side to survive.
Relatives said it’s useless to spend money on my education.
They tried telling my father that the money should be saved for my marriage. Spending money on the education of females is not seen as an empowering move. Though time is changing and people are investing in their daughters, like my father did, it’s not happening on a larger scale.
My sister was rejected by guys twice because of her dusky complexion.
Outsiders were more worried for my sister than my parents. She has a dusky complexion and people wanted her to be fair. Indian society is obsessed with fair skin. There are numerous fairness products available in the market that further propel this obsession.
I don’t have a brother and people make me realize this everyday.
“After your parents, their will be no one to take care of you; don’t you feel scared?” But my question to everyone is: “Why should I?” I can take care of myself. I will be a woman of this modern era who will be independent enough to look after herself.
I’m advised to become a teacher; school timings are safe and I’ll be able to look after my family after marriage.
The professions people suggest are school and bank jobs because other jobs will have late night timings, transfers, or odd-hour demands, which apparently makes them unsafe for women.
It’s not safe to go out late at night. I’ve been told to ask my boss to let me go as early as possible.
We females are not allowed to go out for late hangouts because eve teasing, groping and rape can happen to a woman traveling alone at night. Nowadays, my parents don’t feel safe sending me somewhere even during broad daylight.
I am not paid enough for my job because of my sex.
I cannot do overtime. I cannot compete with the guys who can be available for work 24 x 7. Well, if you feel I am inefficient, then that is not my fault. It is society that make my parents fear for my safety. They fear and hence make me leave my workplace as early as possible.
It is important for me to learn household chores.
It is good that I am an independent girl but I won’t become an ideal girl if I don’t know how to make gol rotis. It is only females who are asked to learn household chores after working their asses off in office. Why aren’t guys thought to be good homemakers?
People constantly label me as someone’s property.
For my parents I am paraya dhan who they will marry away after making some payment in the form of dowry. People don’t marry here in India, they sell their sons and bring brides along with ‘gifts’ (as taking in the name of dowry is a crime now). Some families treat their daughters as a burden (bojh to be precise). All our lives we are objectified in one way or the other.
There is a presumed age for us to get married off.
I have crossed 21, hence, people have started sending marriage proposals. I remember when my sister protested against marrying young, she was told that she will not get a suitable match after 25 as people will think there is something wrong with her.
No matter what you wear, men will stare!
Men staring at you is natural and this is what many of us are told. Hence, covering ourselves is our responsibility. But it gets on my nerves when men stare at women wearing a hijab or burkha. How much more can we possibly cover?
People have created stereotypes for women.
If I am partying late night or people see me smoking or drinking in a pub, they will assume that I am ‘available’. My social habits do not signify that I am available for their sexual pleasures.
I do not want to disrespect my nation but there are many girls who can relate to the problems that I have shared. There are many who have fought for our rights and there are many who are still fighting for it. Here, I just want to say that objectifying women is not right. They are individuals with their own lives. It is important to understand that they can live independently.