Sunday, 18 November 2007

Indian Women (and Women Everywhere)

Although Nandigram has been at the top of everyone’s agenda--the events there have been so utterly horrifying--I’ve also come across some extremely disturbing stories that relate to the status of women in India. One was the story of a 24-year-old woman who was gang raped at the instigation of her husband. He demanded a dowry of 2 lakhs, which her family was reluctant to pay. He then tried to have her murdered, and when that failed, he organized this attack.

In another story, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC)has decided to place cradles at the entrance to gurdwaras, so that parents who wish to abandon their girl children need not do so in parks, railway stations or garbage bins. Why don’t the religious leaders, such as members of the SGPC and the four Shankaracharyas, get together and declare that it is against all Indian traditions to abandon girl children or to harass women for dowry. People who do either should not be given the last rites by a granthi or a pandit. That might be the only way to deal with Indian prejudices against girl children.

Of course, what is even worse is the story about the Saudi Arabian rape victim who was given a sentence of 200 lashes, whereas her attackers were let off with a lighter sentence. What is even worse is that her lawyer has lost his license because he appealed about the sentence handed out to his client. It appears most practitioners of religious law seem to forget the fact that women were given a place of dignity in all religions. So why is it that they are not treated as human nowadays?

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I work as a freelance editor and writer in New Delhi. 


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