Who is a virgin?

The staged version of the incident left me aghast. I was dumbstruck and dismayed thinking about what she would have underwent! My conscience revolted from within and my body simmered in rage. I witnessed the true story of an acid attack victim in Bihar. She was a beautiful girl with innocent dreams of being an academician; she knew little about the cost of aiming to live upto one’s dreams. She declined the proposal of the local rowdy guy chasing her for marriage and to avenge this denial he threw acid on her whole body while she was fast asleep in the night.

At present she is little more than a lump of flesh; her senses have given in to the acid, she cannot see and struggles to hear and taste and feel through her burnt body parts. But her pain and agony doesn’t end here. she battles for justice, appeals day and night to a dead system that has led the accused should roam around scot-free; she has the only appeal to see him behind the bars. Her struggle is not easy because of  insufficient money and physical inabilities. Her father has spent almost all his modest income in her expensive treatment.

Acid attacks are a common phenomenon in india. In last three months, 56 acid attacks have been reported in the capital city! It is supposedly the most easy way to avenge a foul relationship or a grave insult. Men perform this heinous crime because they are confident of inflicting a lifetime punishment upon the girl without getting executed for it.

Last year, when a girl was brutally gang raped in Delhi, people of all ages gathered in numbers to protest. They were angry at the incident and apprehensive that their family women might also fall prey to such gruesomeness; there were strong appeals to change the law for rape in our country. People demanded death penalty for the accused. Although our police does not believe in getting their fingers on the criminals (because that disturbs their comfortable lives) but the immense pressure from the mob made them unwillingly take a step ahead in this direction.

The girl who was gang raped, died. But the acid attack victim (and many others like her) dies every day. There are only few who feel for the innocent victims and raise voice, the rest form the society that ignores and despises them. Perhaps in our country people deem the forceful loss of virginity as the only crime against women; for many women just need to have a protected hymen.

Is virginity to be understood only in biological terms? No! Apart from its literal meaning, the term connotes being ‘unscathed’ and ‘untouched’. A woman who is scarred both physically and mentally for her whole life (through forceful penetration or acid) is not a virgin and since that has happened against her discretion, justice should be given to her. In fact, a person’s face, appearance and way of conduct, is a part of her social identity; an acid attack crushes this identity completely and renders the woman a slave at the mercy of others. The society ignores her, avoids her, is scared of her because she looks ugly; she is no more taken as the person she used to be!

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Marriage: an occupation for women in India

The thought is disturbing. Looking around I find that how even till date women in our country consider marriage to be an occupation i.e. something which would facilitate their living throughout. The manner in which a man seeks a job for himself, women at large yearn for a man who is making a decent amount of money and can take care of their expenses and in exchange they are ready to offer their husbands services like laundry, cooking, cleaning of the house, sex etc. Women view marriage as a respectable job that they wish to do all their life. Women believe that their domain is the house and of the man is the world outside. They take great pride in being ‘homemakers’.

The division of labour and oppression of women has been a common phenomenon in India. But surprisingly even in the current times when constant attempts are being made to eliminate such evils from our society, a large part of the women folk deliberately assent to a life of subjugation for themselves. Most of such females have been tutored by their parents to blindly obey the commands of their husbands and keep the other people in his family happy, even if that comes at the cost of one’s own happiness. There are also those women who consider themselves fortunate in spending the money of their husbands and are of the notion that females of a family work only in case of a lack of assets. Such women enjoy partying, splurging in goods that they have a penchant for etc. For them it is the best life a woman can lead.

In our country there has been a great deal of discussion on changing the outlook of men towards women but at the same time it is also essential that women should change the way they think about themselves. Women should become self-dependent before tying knots; deeming marriage to be an occupation renders it a relation between an employer and an employee where the former (i.e. the husband) has right over the workings of the latter (i.e. the wife). The relation of marriage is like a cart that runs better when its wheels are equal in size, neither outgrows the others. At the same time it is pertinent to not to undermine the achievements and strength of working women; like men, women too need to find their place under the sun and their contribution (in their respective sectors) is significant for the growth and development of a country. We need to understand that to become a sacrificing daughter in law or mother is not the mantra for the day. Today we need to be more dynamic and balancing in our approach; we can be good wives, mothers, daughters and sisters as well; all we require is some courage and confidence in our moves. Remember, the small steps we take today will take us to a brighter and better tomorrow.