Gender Discrimination in India
By Shweta Nair
Gender Discrimination starts even before a child is born, the main apprehension among the family members is whether the child will be a girl or a boy. Some perform rituals for the baby to be a boy. And it doesn’t stop there. Once they get to know that the baby is a girl, either they kill that baby or abandon or blame the lady who gave birth for her entire life. The discrimination continues with regard to the girl’s education, career, workplace, marriage; sadly, pretty much everywhere.
As we all know, India is a patriarchal society. Since ancient times, everything revolved around men. A man will be the head of the family. He will take care of his family. He will work hard and bring income to the family. And what do the women have to do? Yes, guessed it right. Sit at home, make food and take care of house and family. Even after marriage, the couple has to go to the man’s house to live or live close to the man’s house. This disparity has always been existing and still exists today. A girl child is often considered a burden.
Although Constitution of India grants equal rights to men and women, does this really reflect in reality? No. Research states that gender discrimination is present in several realms in favour of men including in the workplace where women become victims of sexual harassment and are not looked upon equally with men. Gender related crimes are already on the rise. Main being Rape, Dowry, Domestic Violence, Acid Attack etc. Even at her own home, a girl is not safe.
Freedom is always curtailed for her. She can’t wear that. She can’t go out post 8 pm. She can’t take up a job predominated by men. She can’t voice her opinion and is often hushed for raising her voice. And in some families, post marriage, a woman is also compelled to leave her job and look after the child.
This issue of gender discrimination is deeply rooted in our Indian system and if we don’t pluck it out, its going to continue generation after generation.
There are several laws which have been made with regard to gender equality and protection of girl child and women like equal pay for equal work, prevention of sexual harassment at workplace, dowry prohibition act, domestic violence act, prohibition of child marriage act etc. Nevertheless, such a social evil continues because the actual implementation needs to be strict and which is not. There need to be more and more campaigns in rural as well as urban India creating awareness of the so-called hushed gender discrimination as most of the times, it never comes in open. Only a few women go and complain. Also, with the helpline numbers for women now, it has become easier. Yes, we can’t decline the fact that people are slowly becoming aware of such things but there is more to be done to eradicate it completely.
Mindset needs to change. People must begin accepting that women are equally capable to stand on her own feet. That a woman can also be the head of the family. Breaking the myths and stereotype around gender is the need of the hour. Education is the first step for that. ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ is one such scheme which is commendable and was introduced by the Government of Haryana which focuses on celebrating girl child and educating her.
For maintaining its position as a Global Growth Leader, India needs to put in extra efforts at local and national level. An attitudinal shift is required for a woman to be considered equal within home and society.
Every girl child deserves to live her life freely and fulfil all her dreams. Let’s empower women and make this country a safe place where both men and women will be treated equal, not only in books but also in reality.