Quite recently, two things have gone viral over the internet – one, the extraordinary matrimonial website of Indhuja, a 24-year-old girl and the other, the India’s Daughter documentary by Leslee Udwin. Both have come as a shock to the Indian society, but for very different reasons. While Indhuja’s matrimonial site is hilarious as well as inspiring due to her blatant honesty in declaring that she is, in no way, a perfect “marriage material” and that she has her own demands regarding a prospective groom, Udwin’s documentary has once again shocked the Indian public into realizing that even in this very modern age, the position of women in India, in the eyes of a substantial part of the population, hasn’t improved much since the dark ages. So should women in India rejoice and be hopeful after witnessing Indhuja’s courage in speaking her mind or should they actually go in for a reality-check regarding how Indian society still views women?
Speaking for myself, I’d prefer going in for a rapid reality-check. For where I come from, things are pretty dark for women. The key-word here is “compromise”. No sooner is a girl born into a family than she is indoctrinated in the concept of compromise. All her life, she’s expected to compromise on every single thing that is essential for a fulfilling life, for the sake of somebody else – father, brothers, husband, in-laws, son. The list is endless. She can have no demands and make none; and nobody is expected to give something up for her sake. She has to cater to the needs of everybody else before she can cater to her own, and once she has done that, she has to go in for some more self-sacrifice. If she has a brother that needs to be taken care of, she has to sacrifice her childhood to become his guardian angel. Her family is not too well-off financially, so her brothers go to expensive, English-medium, private schools, while she goes to a government school. Why? Because she doesn’t need a job as she’ll eventually be married off to somebody, while her brothers need jobs as they are the future bread-earners of the family. Often, while her brothers go in for higher education, she has to give everything up in favour of learning household chores, so that she can become the perfect ‘marriage-material’. I feel very uncomfortable saying that while I give up a job and go in for some advanced course, as and when I like, for my personal benefit, many of my friends were interested in getting a good education or a well-paid job only in order to marry well. Most of them have given up their jobs after marriage. I also feel quite embarrassed to mention that the rest of my friends, who are still unmarried, are deeply depressed because as time passes, their families find it more and more difficult to get proper grooms for them. I’m not really surprised that none of them have ever considered living alone and having a life of their own. I know of one instance where the girl discovered that her prospective husband was addicted to drinks and cigarettes, and when she mentioned it to her family, her mother explained that if she didn’t compromise on stuff of this kind, she would end up living as a spinster. Any girl who has specific demands regarding her prospective husband, is to be steered clear of; otherwise she might end up corrupting other innocent girls. Girls, here, have to compromise on their food-habits as well, for fear of being a disgrace to their families. There are myriad other examples of compromise in a girl’s daily life, and one blog is too small to accommodate them all. The worst thing about this entire scenario is that today’s girls are tomorrow’s mothers, and the concept of making compromises is steadily carried forward by our women, from one generation to the next.
Leslee Udwin’s India’s Daughter has shocked our people; I wonder, though, whether the shock is due to the fact that the Supreme Court and the Government have banned it in India, or is it because of the fact that it features the views of the lowliest of criminals regarding how a rape-victim should react to sexual assault. I also wonder, on this Women’s Day, whether, in spite of Indhuja’s courageous revelation of her true self, her extraordinary website is enough to make women in India feel jubilant, forward and safe.