GIRL CHILD INDEPENDENCE
“A female has the right to her body even, if she is still in the womb”
As I glanced through the day’s newspaper on 4 September 2017, there was something in the news print that grabbed my eyeballs and I got goose bumps. Astronaut Peggy Annette Whitson returned to earth late Saturday, 3 September, wrapping up a record-breaking flight that catapulted her into First Place for US Space Endurance. This is with reference to the 665 days she spent on the Planet – 288. The duration of this mission alone exceeds that of any other American and any other woman worldwide. Isn’t this a wonderful achievement? Girl children are like butterflies – when they fly they go at full throttle. Sadly today, the freedom of girl children is curtailed. The difficulties of girl children arise from the time of conception to her death, from womb to tomb. Here are some of the factors that I feel are curtailing the Independence of girl children.
History of Patriarchal Society: From time immemorial, it seems men, because of their muscle power have been dominating society. Women have been silenced, kept away and treated almost as second class citizens. This has been the story from time immemorial. This feeling has been embedded deeply in the psyche of the vast majority of people.
A matter of disrespect: In many parts of India, people still believe that having a girl child is a matter of ill luck and infra dig, eventually leading to female infanticide.
Religious Teachings: Many of the Scriptures indirectly quote patriarchal dominance. For example, Genesis 2:21-22 mentions “Then God took one of man’s ribs and closed up its place with flesh. With the rib he made the Woman.” This gives us a superior feeling towards women. Even in many other religions, women are not allowed in places of worship, to name just one of many such restrictive measures against their kind.
Women too have become very passive due to the mindset of our male chauvinistic society. Our Indian society especially, feels that women are soft and men are tough as nails. From childhood onwards, boys are introduced to hard toys like cars, superheroes, etc. but girls are always given stuffed soft toys like Barbie dolls and the like. Our Indian Government today too is more concerned about the welfare of cows than the protection of women. Nevertheless, there have been great contributions from women in all walks of life. To name a few recent success stories, we have – P.V Sindhu and Sania Mirza in Sports, Dr. Suman Sahai and Aditi Pant in Science, Minal Sampath and Ritu Karidhal in Rocket Science, and so on.
Sadly, in India, almost 80% of women face harassment in metropolitan cities. There have been innumerable cases of rape in the past ten years. Only a few have come to light. Man has become a lust- driven person. Have we lost our rationality? Have we lost our humanity? Gauri Lankesh – a journalist in Bengaluru, who was a radical thinker, was shot dead as she opened the front door when she went to answer the call bell in her house. She dared to speak about being an agent of change in the society in which men failed to speak out against atrocities. She was silenced with a gun – the true price paid for being a woman of substance and being free to be herself. The search for human freedom can never be complete without freedom for women. Let us stand for womankind, the girl child, the so-called weaker sex, for they can help us make this world a better place to live in, “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”.
“The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women in the world”
– Charles Malik
Canon Fernades SJ