WOMEN TO WHOM YOU’RE BELONG TOO? YOUR OWN OR SOMEONE ELSE?
India gained her independence in 1947 but do the women in India feel free?
Women have been subordinated across the globe throughout history. It’s paradoxical that on one hand, the world was experiencing enlightenment but on the other hand, women were still subordinated. The Encyclopaedia, a collection of articles produced during the Enlightenment Period by scholars like Voltaire, Denis Diderot etc., was originally written under the shelter of salons run by educated women in 1780s as discussing revolutionary ideas in courtrooms was a taboo. But ironically, its pages do not even acknowledge women. Rather educated and liberal women were condemned and qualities like physical weakness, emotional sensitivity etc was highlighted.
Interestingly, India have always been addressed in feminine terms like ‘she’,’ her’ etc. One way of interpreting this is just like India was oppressed and denied self-rule under dominant Britishers; women were oppressed and restricted by dominant males.
But today women have come a long way. Feminism, a movement for women’s emancipation, has contributed significantly towards gender equality. Today’s urban women have come at par with their male counterpart. Nevertheless, they continue to face oppression and gender discrimination in some or other form. Crime against women is rampant in the form of eve-teasing, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dowry, workplace discrimination, rape, molestation by landlords, honour killings etc.
Different people interpret independence differently. For some it is the freedom from oppression, for some it is self-rule while for others it means doing whatever one wishes to without any hindrance. But what does independence mean for today’s woman? And how safe does she feel in Delhi, the capital of an independent country, India?
For majority of women, economic independence is of prime importance. Jane Austen aptly wrote, “It is only poverty that makes celibacy contemptible. A single woman of good fortune is always respectable.” However, I believe that independence is a relative concept. An economically independent woman might not be as free as she seems to be because of restrictions by the society. For e.g., She might be dominated by her husband, parents or boy friend and feel restricted in her actions. On the other hand, a student away from home, who is not economically independent, may feel more free in the sense that she can do as she wants to, free from responsibilities. In fact, girls who come to Delhi for higher studies or work from small-towns with orthodox cultures feel safer here as Delhi’s cosmopolitan culture accommodates everything and everyone. Nevertheless, women frequently become victims of eve-teasing as Delhi is not a crime-free city.