The Tragic Tale of Elderly In Our Society


My mother turned 79 on 31st March. The family gathered for simple dinner and for sometime she forgot her dizzy spells, her weak heart and all that the old age brings with it. After my father’s death 5 years back my brother decided to brings ma back to Delhi and since then they stay together ( He does not like to say she stays with him).

There is a person to take care of her and she is free to live her life as she desires. Ma travels, attends events, goes for movies, exhibitions and does all that her health permits. Even after all this sometimes she looses it and the feeling of dependency and loneliness creeps in, making us feel helpless.

She is well-connected to us through phone and we do visit her often. She is internet savvy so connects with old friends too. My brother, in spite of heavy work schedule in TOI, does his best to see her comfortable, healthy and most of all happy but how many old people living in the cities with their children get this?

I have already done a post on Being a daughter, old age and empty nest

Someone told me yesterday,  ” hey you have a long life, you will live a hundred years. I was just thinking about you.”

I wondered ” how many would like to live a hundred year in a society where old people are made to feel redundant ??”

A recent story which my therapist narrated made me write this post.

Mr. Jaganath ( name changed) is a professor (retd) from University of Delhi . He is 97 years old. His wife is 88 years old and both of them are in frail health with old age complications . The couple stays in a posh flat in an upmarket colony and has five children. Four boys, three of them are in U.S.A. teaching in major universities and the fourth son in Delhi itself working on a high position in some company. The old couple stays with their widowed daughter(58 years) and grand-daughter. None of the sons were willing to keep the aging parents and rarely visit them.

The daughter who herself has sever health problems grudgingly looks after them and leaves no opportunity to humiliate and scold them. The only reason she is bearing with them , as per her, is the property in her father’s name. Every day is a struggle to survive for them. My therapist goes daily to help them and the stories she narrates are horrifying. Many a times she intervenes but is told to stay away from family matters.

Things turned worse a month back when the mother fell sick. Since then the old parents are not fed properly, mother complains of being beaten up at night for disturbing sleep. They have lost weight. Hardly any nutrition goes into their frail bodies and the diseases which were brought under control have started to take their grip on them once again.They stay in their room all the time and are never ever taken out to any functions or even to any park etc so they too can breath in fresh air.

On being questioned the daughter says, ” its time for them to leave the earth. isn’t it?”. ” I am stressed too, am unwell myself, it’s too much “, she complained. I am doing all I can, a maid is there for them 24 hours, I am paying for doctors and everything, giving them khan peena but  they are not satisfied” ,  she retorted in anger.

Caregiver Stress was breaking her she said. Amazingly she wants her father to sign the papers for the flat and put it in her name. All the money, jewellery as already been given to her. She managed to get things done her way by forcing them.

” I am feeding them so it is my right. ” she defends.” I am growing old too. don’t have more strength than this to look after them”.

” Is it not her duty to look after them  or if she can’t at least find a decent care home for them ? ”

“What care home? What will people say? They have little life to live why waste money ? was her reply.

The parents stared blankly at her and then looked at the therapist with eyes that told the story of their pain in bold letters.

The son when contacted refused to take charge due to the pressure from his wife who had earlier thrown the father in law out because he wetted his pajama accidently on way to the loo in the night. He was called a dog who pisses anywhere,

The vacant  hurt on their weathered faces, the fear of unknown in their eyes and the tears that well up all the time tell a sad and tragic tale of neglect .

The daughter was advised to put them in some care home but the social image is the most important thing for her. No one knows what goes on behind the four walls but sending them away in this condition will open many debates, also the property and , money etc will not be passed on to her.

The old couple quietly waits for death to knock on their doors to get rid of every day humiliation, pain, sickness and trauma.

I always wonder what exactly can be done in this situation. Even thought of the role of welfare associations of the colonies which can mark the houses where elderly people stay and check their state of well-being but then the other members make sure that they keep their mouth shut and speak only good of the family otherwise face the consequences.

These old people who once lived a life of content and raised their children, educated them and gave them wings now sit huddled in dark , smelly rooms, deprived of even a decent meal and basic health care.

I told my therapist to take some action against the daughter or do something to help the poor parents and she did try but failed. Even a police report would worsen the matters in their case she said with  such pain in her voice. It troubled me. We are still thinking how to change the situation. The woman is well to do so the monitory condition is not the reason.

In a country where familial ties are held in high regards more and more cases of extremely closeted and complex phenomenon of Elder Abuse are coming into notice.

In a country where we preserve our heritage properties, cherish the old relics and heirlooms, the living heritage is being so severely neglected and abused. Economic insecurity, loss of physical ability to work and care for one’s self, falling  health, physical and psychological isolation , often the social and religious taboos play havoc on these elderly people. Sometimes there is a fear of losing the spouse and low self-esteem also makes them vulnerable.

Sensitization of the younger generation in this regard is of utmost importance and it works too but what about educated people like the one above who knowingly neglect and push their ailing parents towards death?

Many a times these elderly people also suffer from self neglect due to many reasons like malnutrition, dementia, depression, over medication and illnesses but those who do not fall in this category are often pushed towards it by the care givers.

The question is why?

Why taking care of the parents who can’t look after themselves, who once took care of you,  become this generation’s latest major agonizing life crises ?

Are we under the  duel pressure of being” sandwich generation” raising young children and caring for old parents?

Two decades ago, caring for the elderly was hardly an issue. The joint family was a harmonious secure haven for both the young and the old so the question arises

Was the system of joint family better than this new age nuclear family system?

Or have we just become more stressed and less tolerant?

Many NGO’s working for the elderly like the Help Age India claim that the reports of abuses and neglect have gone up in recent times. Most of them say that children turn abusive once the family property has been signed over. Then the ” use” of aging parents is over and hence the anger, abuse and neglect.

They have to wait endlessly for the meals, medication and such basic needs. A complaint creates disharmony and that is one reason many old people prefer to stay quite.

There is a parent maintenance act but how many are aware of it or avail its benefits. The fact that we should need a maintenance act for our own parents is such a shame but it does help those who are neglected and abused.

While the youth enjoys the benefits of the economic boom the elder generation is completely out of picture.

Sometimes I feel that Ichcha mrityu or

euthanasia should be allowed.

At least it will end the trauma of ” To be or not to ” in the elder generation.


There are estimated 90 million old people in India.


Their grief remains unresolved and life… it goes on .

It is an indivine post vote for it Here

Avant Garde Awards,A Post on DV male victims, Votes and Tuesday Thoughts


This seems to be the longest blog post title I must have come up with. 🙂

It is a hot sunny day here in Delhi and over the cup of coffee , with an engrossing football match going on between Liverpool and Manchester United, I am trying to work. Don’t know why but I am in a reflective mood today.

Reason?

A lot of inner chatter.

Questions that seek answers but hang in the air unexplained.

I had got mixed response when I wrote this post about male victims of domestic violence . Not everyone feels comfortable to talk about an issue which needs a lot of understanding and support.

I have yet to come across people who can boldly come out and raise their voices, share their experiences and discuss openly about this issue. That is more true of Indian men, here and abroad.

Something holds them back. Is it because the law is more sympathetic to women across the globe? Or , Is it that the image created by the society comes  like a barbed wire between their hurt and justice.

Read on here In Silence I suffer, the hidden hurt

Although the story line and the names are changed, this is a true story of a friend. He  suffers terrible mental and physical abuse at the hands of his wife… Both of them are educated… He is the sole bread earner and on top in his area of expertise… Yet once home, he gets brow beaten and even physically beaten up by his wife although  stronger than her, he just accepts what she deals out without any attempt to defend himself. The severity of her abuse has increased over the years… He seems to accept this as his lot and does nothing to come out of this dead-end situation… What makes him accept this kind of treatment when  he has so many options before him? A question I am unable to answer.

Over the time that I have known him I see a very fatigued, hurt, pained man searching for love and dignity he so much deserves and  trying to make the best of what life has given him. It is very easy for us to comment and advise but to go through this hell every day and manage it all takes courage and strength.

Especially with Indian men rooted in family bonds, traditions, age-old dogmas and the rules and regulations forced on them by the society, it becomes a tough task to simply move away. Not many can muster u[p the courage to  take on the so-called social stigma of  “abused husband”, the jeers and taunts and the shame attached to it.  Man is seen always as a opressor and never as a victim.

Sad but true.

I am glad the post was picked up by the judges of Avant Grande Bloggies Awards  and reached the final voting.

Do vote for me Here

if you think the issue need attention.


Ssomehow all of this has come at a time when I am myself trying to figure out about relationships, love, marriage and has the institution of marriage has failed completely. Yes, It has I feel. I write about DV ( both men and women suffer from it) , and many forms of it and yet I am unable to take control of my situation. Does it make me more sensitive to those who stay in a relationship for one reason or another and can never break and cross that invisible chain that sets their boundary. Married now for 19 years i am still searching for the answer.

This an issue just like marital rape which always get pushed under the carpet. I hope these men who suffer in silence will come out and start afresh  and find a life full of love, peace and dignity which they deserve.

May be it’s time to  think WHY?

May be it’s time to look within.

Ones again.

Do leave your views and pass the link to friends if you find this worth sharing .

National Girl Child Day Post: A daughter that never was and A Poem


I dedicate this post to all the daughters and their mothers across the globe. Let me begin by posting one of the most beautiful poems I have read about a mother daughter relationship. you can read the entire poem on kavita kosh site Mera Naya Bachpan by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan.

I always wanted a daughter and after my first child even thought of adopting one to complete the family but unfortunately the family did not agree and just my luck that I had another son after four years.

The radiologists at that time saw my desperation for a girl child and smilingly said, ” maybe it’s a girl, so smile young lady”.

Delighted I bought  little pretty dresses for the baby which was due anytime. When I found that I had a boy agai.n, I wept but then the cherub was such a delight that I gave all my love to him. I had to dress the little one in frocks and other girly clothes for sometime, to the dislike of my MIL but I fulfilled my little desire.

My little boy in a lehnga I wore at the age of one year

shubhang not even one in a pretty blue frock

I decided that day to do as much as I could for any poor girl who needed any help in any field especially education. I regularly help the girls in the neighborhood, the maid’s daughters and give out books, clothes and other things to the needy girls encouraging them to study and make their mark in the society on their own.

My cook’s all three daughters have completed their graduation  done courses in computers etc and are now working at good posts in reputed companies even MNCs. what a proud moment for a mother who is now nearing 60 and all her life worked in other people’s houses to raise , educate  and make her girls independent. all the three girls save money for their future and never give in to age-old customs and pressures of society. Kudos to one such brave mother and all her daughters.

Here are some lines from the poem I want to share with a translation by me . I can not match the beauty of the original but making an effort ot send the message to all my non hindi speaking friends..

मैं बचपन को बुला रही थी बोल उठी बिटिया मेरी।
नंदन वन-सी फूल उठी यह छोटी-सी कुटिया मेरी॥

‘माँ ओ’ कहकर बुला रही थी मिट्टी खाकर आयी थी।
कुछ मुँह में कुछ लिये हाथ में मुझे खिलाने लायी थी॥

पुलक रहे थे अंग, दृगों में कौतुहल था छलक रहा।
मुँह पर थी आह्लाद-लालिमा विजय-गर्व था झलक रहा॥

मैंने पूछा ‘यह क्या लायी?’ बोल उठी वह ‘माँ, काओ’।
हुआ प्रफुल्लित हृदय खुशी से मैंने कहा – ‘तुम्हीं खाओ’॥

पाया मैंने बचपन फिर से बचपन बेटी बन आया।
उसकी मंजुल मूर्ति देखकर मुझ में नवजीवन आया॥

My translation of these lines.

I was remembering my childhood

when my little daughter spoke

blossoming  my  little home

like a beautiful fragrant forest

” ma come” she called out to me in baby voice

she had eaten mud

her little mouth  filled with some and

some more she held in her little hands for me to eat

her  body radiating with joy and

every part of hers filled with wonder

her face beaming with ecstacy and the glow of victory

I asked ” what have you got?” ” mama eat” she replied

with a heart brimming with mirth, I said ” you eat”

I found my childhood again,

it returned in my daughter’s form

my life  rejuvenated

watching  her delightful charm

***

Give your daughters a healthy, secure, safe, educated, and respectable future. Let them blossom and fill your world with joy and pride.

Stop female infanticide, child marriages and crime against women. They have their own identity stronger than just being daughters, sisters, wives, mothers etc. Give them winds to fly and discover their own horizons.

Witch Hunting : The Dark Indian Reality


Place : A sleepy village in the state of Chattisgarh in the largest democracy of the world, India

Time : Just past midnight

A woman rolls on the floor of her small mud house making vague noises and shaking her head. He hair disheveled and clothes barely covering her body. She shudders in uncontrolled frenzy and the entire household watches her ” playing” in fear and silence.

The village elders are informed and she termed as a “Dayan”witch. All the village folks gather with sticks and stones, beat her to pulp and tear her clothes. Stark naked , wounded both physically and emotionally, she lies like a dead animal at the village square while the villagers gather wood to burn her alive.

This is not mediaeval Indian story. It is reality of modern India where women considered to be witches are brutally tortured, beaten, stripped and killed in the name of witchcraft. These women considered to be bad omen are held responsible for failure of crops, epidemics, diseases,low birth rate, and many other things which bring so called bad luck to the village.

Most of these women are either single, widows, aged women and mainly women who are unprotected and closely related to the accusers. Witch-hunting is one of the most brutal forms of violence against women. Most of them are forever ostracised from the society with terrible consequences.

Witch hunting is prevalent in many of the Indian states like chattisgarh, Assam, Orissa, West Bengal, rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra and some of the north- eastern states. Bihar alone accounts for a major chunk of witch hunting cases. Mainly the entire tribal belt of India suffers from the humiliation of this social evil. Acute poverty, little or no access to the most basic health care, education and sanitation are some of the factors leading to witch hunting. In these circumstances, superstition gains a force of its own. Bad crops, death in the family, loss of a child, persistent illness or drying up of wells or any such reason paves the way for this evil–problems are many but the solution remains the same: locate the witch responsible for the problem and punish her.

Socio-economic factors such as land-grabbing, property disputes, personal rivalry and resistance to sexual advances are mainly the reasons for such killings. In the male dominated society if a woman inherits land from her deceased husband is asked to disown the land by her husband’s family or other men. If she resists, they approach the Ojhas (traditional village doctors) and bribe them to brand her a witch.

Apart from this there are some other factors that lead to killing of innocent women by branding them as witches. In some cases women who spurn the sexual advances of the powerful men in the community are labelled and tortured in the name of witchcraft. That’s one way of settling the scores.

I came across Brinda Karant’s article on witch hunting some months ago where she explains the subject at length. Brinda is General secretory of All India Democratic Women’s Association(ADWA) and has worked in the field of women’s rights for a long time.

Some Issues In The Struggle Against Witch-Hunting

Do click the link to read more.

Many women who are strong willed, assertive and speak out their minds are seen as threats. The easiest way to eliminate them is to brand them as witch, humiliate and kill. The options left to such women are little. They are either forced to abandon the family and property and run away, commit suicide or are brutally murdered.

In Jharkhand witch hunting has increased in frightening proportions. Many of the adivasis ( tribals) kill women termed as Dains( witches) by the local village doctor called the “Ojha”. The tribal believe in spirits, ghosts and witches and lack of education forces them to do heinous acts against these women. A sick child dreams of four witches and names them. Village elders search for such women and publically parade them naked, their faces smeared. They are tortured, beaten black and blue and beheaded in full view of the entire village .No one speaks against the crime in the name of faith.

The police records record 984 women being killed in 19 districts since 1991 to 2008. Among them 242 women were killed in Ranchi district, 178 in West Singhbhum, 60 in East Singhbhum, 34 in Saraikela-Kharsawan, 127 in Lohardaga, 100 in Gumla, 39 in Simdega, 60 in Palamu, 18 in Garhwa, 10 in Chatra, 15 in Hazaribagh, 16 in Koderma, 15 in Giridih, 6 in Dhanbad, 12 in Bokaro, 16 in Deoghar, 11 in Dumka, 14 in Sahebganj and 11 women were killed in Godda district (omit). The crime enjoys the social and political patronage in the states of Jharkhand and several parts of Bihar etc as there is as much faith in witch-hunt as there is belief in gods. There are no real statistics because mostly the crimes go unreported.

There is a law against witch hunting in almost 28 states but it too has its drawbacks. There is still no central law against this barbarism. Less than 2 percent of those accused of witch-hunting are actually convicted, according to a study by the Free Legal Aid Committee, a group that works with victims in the state of Jharkhand.Most of the time women are unaware of the law and although there are many NGOs like Free Legal Aid Committee (FLAC) working for the this cause, there is still a long way to go.

Witch hunting leaves children orphaned and in my opinion it is one of the most atrocious crimes against women.

The cause of witch hunting is the patriarchal system and it’s been there for centuries now. To prove the authority of men, they suppress women, who resist against the system.

Men use weapons like witch-hunting to get rid of women they fear. In the Adivasi communities, it is largely women who are considered to have an evil influence and thus capable of being witches.

There are some fundamental questions I want to raise .

why is it that only a woman is a witch and man a witch hunter and spirit healer?

Why there is still lack of basic amenities like health, education and social awakening in remote parts of India?

Why can’t there be a central law or at least a strict law to prevent such acts of barbarism?

For How long women of India going to suffer in the the name of faith and under the pressure of male dominated society?

Because I am a Woman


“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.” Joseph Conrad

It s a gloomy day as far as the woman in me is concerned. Sometimes I feel how double faced and hypocrite we human can be. To think that the country which prides itself for women power and worships her in all its forms , has to witness cruelty , murder, and all sorts of atrocities on its women. The very being of womanhood is at stake and no one absolutely no one cares about it.

we have rallies, bills, law, woman’s lib activists, smartly dressed women shouting slogans and attending conferences, writing books and articles on woman’s rights and stealing the lime light for their outstanding contribution to the upliftment of women in India but the reality is far from it.

At the root of our society women are being killed, burned, raped, beaten and treated like dregs, with hardly anyone to listen to their cries.

I feel ashamed that while I sit and write about yet another “story” of such a woman, she , a 21year old , is battling for life. Her child dead in her womb. Another embryo which was taking shape of a girl child.

The girl I am talking about is my house help’s sister in law. A woman in her early 20z and a mother of a baby girl of 11 months.

Poverty and lack of resources and also the hassles of our twisted legal system leave no choice for the old helpless parents than to watch their daughter die slowly.

Since her marriage it is the second time the girl was subjected to attempt to murder by pouring kerosene on her. The first time too she was pregnant with a baby girl. At that time she managed to escape but due to social pressures, non supportive siblings and poverty of her parents, she returned to her husband and in laws.

Though the law does not allow gender determination and it is supposed to be a crime yet a large number of doctors make profits especially in rural India through this practice.

No one said anything and the matter was pushed under the carpet for various obvious reasons.

This time she could not escape the ” stove death “.
With 95% burns and a dead fetus inside her, the survival chances are nil and it is just a matter of time. Maybe as I write she may be breathing her last. The old dejected parents have no proof against her inhuman in laws as the girl is unconscious and may not be able to make a statement.

The little infant wails uncontrollably in the arms of some relative who tries in vain to console her.

Now everything depends on proof and if there is no proof, no evidence , no death statement by the victim, the murderers will go Scot Free.

There are no reliable numbers for similar cases in the rest of the country, but according to reports three women a day die as a result of stove death. In most cases the reports say that the victims attempted suicide or died as the result of an exploding stove.

The women are predominantly between the ages of 18 and 35 and around 30% are pregnant at the time of their deaths.

‘Either our country is home to “possessed stoves” which burn only young women, and are particularly fond of genitalia, or if we notice the frequency of these cases, there is a grim pattern that these women are victims of deliberate murder.

The “nari shakti” or woman as the incarnation of Goddess “shakti” which include the various incarnation of Durga including “BhadraKali” truly seems something out of mythology with nothing to do with the grim reality.

Unfortunately sometimes , as in this case except for the girl’s parents and some relatives no other family member has come forward to stand for her. They do not have ample money for the treatment and fight for justice for their only daughter.

Once again the case will be closed due to lack of proper evidence and life will go on as usual. Many more young brides will be set ablaze and the society will watch mutely the murderous proceedings. Shutting its eyes to the degradation of human values and life itself.

Ours is a cultured society, where women are killed even in womb just because their hearts dared to beat. Where laws formulated to safeguard woman’s interest seem insufficient to handle the situation.

It is a shame that in many cases women of the house are the ones who initiate the crime.. mainly the mother in law, and the husband who took seven rounds around the holy fire to protect the woman in life acts like a puppet in his mother’s hand.A mute spectator.

Sometime back I did a post on female infanticide and prayed that it will touch a chord somewhere in the hearts of people who are educated and have ample resources to take some action against these crimes against humanity and today again I hope that some blinkers will be removed and someone will rise and say,

I will be the change I want to see.

That’s Incredible India Shining for you.

Nanhi kali(the tender bud)I too want to blossom:Female Infanticide


girl-child1The village was slowly waking up to yet another day. The birds had left their nest in search of the early worm and one could hear the bells in the temple on a distant hillock.

Very few people were out at this time. Two figures emerged from behind a cluster of houses and started walking hurriedly towards the thick fields full of wheat crop ready to cut.

They had a mission. They were going to commit a crime no one will know of. A little bundle slept peacefully in the arms of one of them.
On reaching a specific spot near the canal, they unwrapped the bundle and mercilessly held the little baby girl’s head under water till the helpless infant stopped struggling to breath.

They pulled it out and quickly buried her in the previously selected makeshift grave. This was the second girl they had buried in three years.

washing their sinful body in the silent canal water, they returned and vanished behind the rows and rows of houses.

Nothing stirred, even the air became still, as it witnessed this gruesome act of murder.

“Female infanticide is the intentional killing of baby girls due to the preference for male babies and from the low value associated with the birth of females.”

What we are up against is a deeply ingrained patriarchal attitude to which even the medical profession and the women, who in spite of being the victims, unthinkingly subscribe to.

What is the future of womanhood in the land where the girl child is killed using every possible means by her own family especially her own father, brother and in many cases even mother. Many a times they are simply not allowed to be born.

According to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India’ s population as a result of systematic gender discrimination in India. In most countries in the world, there are approximately 105 female births for every 100 males.

In India, there are less than 93 women for every 100 men in the population. The accepted reason for such a disparity is the practice of female infanticide in India.

Five million girls were eliminated between 1986 and 2001 because of fetal sex determination done by unethical medical professionals. The rate of extermination continues to increase after census 2001.

The practice is taking an alarming proportions and is shockingly common in even rural areas where people do not normally have access to sex determination facilities.

The family waits until the mother gives birth, and when they find out that a daughter is born, they go ahead and kill the baby by adopting various means such as strangling the baby, giving her poison, dumping her in a garbage bin, drowning her, burying her alive, or suffocating her with pillows etc.

Many a times female foeticide is the easy and simple way out for those male child hungry couples. Sometimes Barbaric methods are used to kill the fetus, endangering even the mother’s life.

What is disturbing is that female infanticide is not considered a big crime and rarely do culprits get convicted. Surprisingly, Sex-selective abortion are not always forced upon by husbands and in-laws , they are often done in consensus by the mother.. Since she is the one who has given birth to the unwanted female, it is her who must do away with it. She is forced to do so at times, and willingly does so at others since she herself desires a male child for various age old reasons rooted in our society.

A research was conducted to analyze the patterns of female foeticide and infanticide in China, India, and other countries in Southeast Asia. ( I searched the net to discover this and I am quoting )

The report concludes:

“( The magnitude of the phenomena of female foeticide and girl infanticide in India, China and other parts of Asia has reached a critical level creating a worldwide demographic imbalance with, in turn, drastic economic and social consequences. Over 100 million women are now missing in Asia which will result in a 12 to 15 percent excess of young men in the next twenty years.

[…]

It will take generations to change people’s mindset but the situation worldwide is so dramatic that we cannot afford to wait any longer. It is imperative that the International community calls on the governments and all actors responsible for this human and demographic tragedy to enact laws and take urgent measures to fight these violence and discrimination which, by denying the first basic right of all – the right to life – denies all other human rights. )”

What are the causes of 10,000,000 female infants killed in the past 20 years in India.

1. We need a son to carry our family name , to ensure continuity of our family line.

2. A son is needed to perform the last rites so our souls will attain peace.

3. A girl means expense as we will have to pay dowry and get her married.

4. We need a son to take care of us in old age while a daughter goes away to another house after marriage.

5. I need a son to complete my family.

When I look at these reasons, which mainly people give for wanting a male child, I wonder what kind of family line they want to continue, with what value system. won’t it be better if it finished then and there. and if every one thought the way they do where is the DIL going to come to carry forward the esteemed family name?

How many sons take care of their old parents in reality is a question to ponder. Look at the old age homes where mothers and fathers spend their last few years trying to hide the vacant dreams in their eyes.

Why not educate the girl child and make her self sufficient. It is known that you educate a girl child , you educated a family.

Why not oppose the dowry system and take law seriously. For it is one of the main reasons for female foeticide and infanticide. We should stop programming the girl child from the moment it is born to accept the so called Indian values, customs and rituals. Is it not needed to end the need for dowry itself instead of finding shortcut solutions to this evil practice?

We should stop the discrimination at home where the girl is underfed and her share is snatched to feed the good for nothing brother. The girls are advised and taught to stay indoors, learn to cook and wash, clean and sew for they have to go to another house after marriage.

She is not sent to school as education is considered a taboo for her and of no use to her as she is that unpaid slave who has to just birth children and slog for her husband and other members of the family.

She is snubbed and frowned upon if she dares to talk of her dreams, aspirations or in some cases abuse from the hands of family males.

This is our country where women are seen as images of Goddess.

What hypocrites we are?

We invoke our scripts and religion when it suits us and do what is convenient for us when it suits us.

We do rituals and offerings, go on pilgrimage to various Devi temples and abuse the woman of our house, kill the unborn daughter, ill treat the one who survives and sell her to some good for nothing hand pecked boy .

For their entire life most of the women live chained in the hollow bonds of being a daughter, sister, wife, mother and die every moment fulfilling the demands of that relationship.

Somewhere their essence, their identity is lost and they mutely take on the wrath of the hypocrite society.

I think the time has come for a collective uprising against the murder of the very essence of womanhood. To bring the change and to be the change.

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(image courtesy Google. All credits to rightful owners )

In silence I suffer :Hidden Hurt of DV male victims


In silence I suffer

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The neighbor’s house was silent.. curtains were drawn.. no loud screaming noises, no crashing of things aimed and thrown around, no plates and vases hurling out of the door, no abuses and insults. It was not normal.

I watched in horror the deafening silence that prevailed in the house right in front of my bedroom balcony. Something was not right. I felt strange to think like that, It is normal to have a quite, peaceful home so why was I not happy to see the blissful silence?

I scanned the entire house for some activity. The twilight of a long weekend was soon going to turn into a night of terror. I was sure of that. With my heartbeats audible from a mile I decided to venture out and checkout if the house was locked.

But then I spotted him. His shadow more visible than his battered frame against the backdrop of the terrace wall.

He stood leaning against the railing, nursing wounds that bled deep somewhere in his soul. His mind, body and spirit abused and battered by the woman whom he had given everything possible. His wife and so called companion for life.

A lump rose in my throat and I locked the door, ran down the stairs, crossed the dark lane and landed breathlessly at his terrace door. I knew it was going to be lethal if She found out but the communication channels were closed and I was concerned.

Slowly I approached him from behind. Suddenly he turned as if half expecting a blow.His well built body very vulnerable and shattered at that time.

His eyes welled up as a maelstrom of emotions rose within him, a fear of unknown gripped him as he scanned his surroundings for the presence of his tormentor but all was quite.

He winched as his touched his arm. It was dark and I knew the severity of beating must have crossed it’s limits this time. Raging from with in I drew him close. In silence a thousand tales of sorrow, pain, shame and hurt flooded down his cheeks.

I wondered why he suffered in silence and why I never stood up against the injustice and reported the domestic violence that rocked their home daily.

Maybe we both knew the answer.

Slowly the story emerged. He had come half an hour late from office. tired, drained and tensed about his job and the recession which had affected many people around him. A volley of accusations, abuses and a cordless telephone hit him before he could realize what was happening. What followed was a frenzy which left him completely worn out and isolated.

I asked him where she was and found that she had picked up their car and gone some where drunk with rage and jealousy.

We went home and there I saw the extent of damage. It was a sight that cut through my heart and soul like a double edged knife. I could have killed that woman at the first opportunity. How could anyone be so cruel and heartless. I made a drink and did some first aid as he watched me with eyes that made me reach out to him.Never in my life I felt so helpless. He knew he had a listening ear and a comfort zone in me but that was not enough to change the situation. Something had to be done ..soon. It was pointless at that moment to suggest any options, we had gone through it all before. So I just let me pour out all that was welling up in his heart.

The hurt was too much to bear and I wondered how much more time before he snaps. He suffered in silence, his pain hidden from the world. Taking on all the untrue accusations, abuses and beatings, trying hard to diffuse any potentially violent situations. Blatant discrimination, disbelief, gender bias and the fear of social stigma keeps many male victims of DV suffering in silence even if the abuse is life threatening. Treated by the society as a joke these men who are mostly caring, loving sensitive people face isolation and terrible psychological problems.

The cases are never reported, the law never takes them seriously and the fear of social stigma makes them more vulnerable to further abuse.

They use survival tactics in vain to hoping to stop the abuse but it gets worse with time.

I watched the man sleeping peacefully on the bed. An exceptionally talented person with a good job and a heart of gold he had the dark side of him which was hidden from the world. A side which need to be brought to light and justice. Seeing the couple walk down the street or talking to them could never reveal the horror that lay behind.
Behind the closed doors and curtained windows of their home there was an abyss full of uncertainty, pain, humiliation mixed with rage, and violence.

The society is reluctant to acknowledge that females could be perpetrators and males could be victims. It is a hard thing for the victims to come forward due to the feeling of powerlessness and other aspects.

I wonder if our society really is a male dominated one.. ??? Are creating a silent class of male victims in our pursuit to protect women’ rights?

With a law that favors women are we not doing a grave injustice to men by blindly labeling them as tormentors and glorifying women as eternal victims of abuse.

Does the stereotype image of a “man” come between justice and the silent sufferer?

I searched for answers as I watched him with tear filled eyes. When will it all end. Is there any hope?

What was in store for this man who tried really hard to live peacefully some moments of his life?

I wish I could do something more than just being a shoulder to cry on, though it’s something many victims don’t have all through their life unless they brave the onslaught of society and speak out.

Some things in life make you wonder what you have achieved as a human being and have you really done something to justify your existence on this earth.

All I would say is please do not suffer in silence.. It is one life that you have ..live it on your terms. Chase your dreams and catch them before it’s too late. Keep the faith and believe in the fact that you are unique and deserve your share of happiness in all forms.

Mysteries behind the veils


As a young girl ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Arabian Nights’ were two of my favorite movies. The mysterious Arab world with deserts, camel caravans, palaces, spice markets, handsome Arab men in Thoub , Shumagg, Tagiyah and ogal and stunningly captivating women in veils and exotic dresses. Abayas, HIjabs, Niqabs were part of my fantasy world.

Closer to home the women in burqas did not appeal to me much maybe the reality of seeing them in person was disturbing to me .I wondered how they managed to see through their thick  netted veils and didn’t they feel like throwing the  layers and layers of black cloth which wrapped them as mummies .

I dreamt of living in a beautiful land which offered such splendor and often used my scarves and stoles to make sheer or heavy veils. Wearing my long skirts I weaved tales around me and vowed to marry someone from any of these countries and live my dream.

As I grew up I started to read more about Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Egypt.


Soon my veil was lifted as I read and saw more and more about the sub human conditions in which an average woman lived here.


The Karo Kari (honor killings) which includes death by stoning, the brutalities they suffer sometimes in the name of religion and sometimes for customs. The much longed attire that I dreamed of as a child turned out to be the cause of heated debates and a refusal to wear Hijab leading to death as punishment sent chills up my spine.

These women have no rights and live a life worse than that of an animal.Though in the modern times some upper class sections of the Islamic society may have changed but mostly it still remains in its primitive stages.

The attires have gone from heavy cumbersome coarse cotton to stylishly deigned silks etc for some but the average woman still suffers under the burdens of these symbols of modesty.

From hijab to circumcision the irony never ends in the lives of these women.The conditions in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and some African Islamic nations such as Sudan are worse than the others but over all the need to bring a change is very essential.

The strict Islamic laws restricting movement of women, takes preposterous dimension in Saudi Arabia where men and women are treated in a manner as if they are two different species. Shrouded in dark colored abayas or traditional Saudi attires for women covering the head and extending to the tow, Saudi women move about the street like living ghosts.

The women are mere commodities and are often battered, molested or killed if they show even the slightest sigh of rebellion.

Child marriages are prevalent and little girls as small as eight years old are given in marriage to men as old as 50yrs.

The books that I read many years ago by women authors Jean P. Sasson, Tehmina Durrani and Taslima Nasrin(Lajja) made me shiver .I was glad not to be part of such a cruel society .All the dreams of the childhood came crashing in front of the insane reality .

My Feudal Lord

MY FEUDAL LORD BY TAHMINA DURRANI

“There is a fantasy of a feudal lord as an exotic, tall, dark and handsome man, with flashing eyes and traces of quick-tempered gypsy blood. Images of him parrying thrusts with the fiercest of swordsmen and riding off into the sunset on his black steed set the pubescent heart aflutter. He is seen as a passionate ladies man and something of a rough diamond, the archetypal male chauvinist who forces a woman to love him despite his treatment of her.

But the fantasy is far from reality, and my country of Pakistan must face up to reality of it is ever to grow and prosper.” (QUOTED FROM THE BOOK)

Tehmina Durrani unwinds the details of her private life in a male dominated chauvinistic society, to give voice to the abuse she suffered while being married to a despotic and brutish husband Mustafa Khar as a Sixth Wife.

After being suffered in silence for 13 years often trading her self-esteem and individuality for a marriage that rocked with physical abuse and emotional blackmail, Tehmina stands up for what she truly is. Breaking free from the convention and taking up the choice of raising her voice against her conniving, manipulative, and spineless Feudal Lordship, risking her life and character assassination in public for her conscience.

Durrani’s book detailed her abusive marriage to Mustafa Khar, once Pakistan’s most powerful feudal landlord from Punjab province.

She wrote the book after divorcing him in 1988.

Plagued by physical abuse, marital rape, hypocrisy, public scrutiny, betrayal, and where women are treated as mere possessions and objects of desire, and the basic human rights to women are still a dream, she dared to bring into open the hard hitting truthof her society .

Going through a reflection of this autobiographical account of her life, my heart swelled with pride and admiration for this beautiful woman and her unfailing courage. This book indeed stands as a living testament to the insurmountable human spirit and it’s longing for freedom of self expression.

I found the book captivating because of the description of the cloistered society, the politics and the politicians, the lordship of men and the treatment of women folk.

Princess

PRINCESS TRIALOGYBYJEAN P. SASSON

I read two of the three books a few years back and again a few days back and they tended to both outrage and bring out the activist in me.

Princess is one of those books that have the potential to really rile up the feminist in anyone. This is a book based on the diaries of a Saudi Arabian princess, a member of the royal Al’Sa’ud family.

Sasson, a friend of “Princess Sultana” a pseudonym for the woman whose diaries from which this book is based, lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1978 to 1990.

This book is written entirely from “Sultana’s” point of view, from her childhood to her middle adulthood. The author‘s views are not expressed anywhere.

The book has 254 easy reading pages and contains four appendixes, The Koran and Women, The Laws of Saudi Arabia, a glossary on Arab terms and a Chronology of Key Events in Saudi History, all are in the back. In addition there is a map of Saudi Arabia, the surrounding area, with facts on Saudi Arabia and the surrounding countries and a family tree of the House of Saud in the front of the book which is a great help.

Sultana’s mother, Fadeela, was the first of her father’s four wives. She had borne her husband sixteen children, eleven of whom lived- a total of ten daughters and one son. Sultana was the youngest child and quite rebellious. Her brother, Ali, enjoyed great status as the first born son. As such, he was spoiled rotten and behaved with mean spiritedness that was often directed at Sultana. Other brothers were born to the other wives, but Ali was the most revered because he was the oldest. Sultana hated him with a passion.

There are stories of pranks that Sultana played on her brother- one of which was quite serious. She left his collection of alcoholic beverages and pornographic material in a mosque one day where it was discovered by the religious police.

As Sultana grows into a teenager, she relates stories of her family and friends. In this part of the book, we learn of young girls of twelve and thirteen marrying men in their fifties or sixties, generally all in the name of preserving or furthering business connections. Once girls have their first menstrual period, they are expected to veil. They are considered women at that point and as such, they are ready for marriage. Sultana explains how when she bought her first veil, she entered the shop a girl and emerged a woman. Men who scarcely looked at her as she cavorted about as a child unveiled were suddenly mystified by her as a veiled woman.

However, the novelty of the experience wore off quickly. Sultana found she couldn’t see through the thick material to cross the street. The blue sky was suddenly hazy with the darkness of the cloth.

I found myself imagining what it was like to wear a black abaya and veil every day as I walked outside, especially in 130 degree heat!

The book talks at length about Sultana’s immediate family– the close relationship she has with her mother, the distant one she has with her father, and the acrimonious one she has with her brother.

There are heart wrenching tales in the book about the customs of the Saudi society. The tales of foreign women who are enslaved by their employers for sexual favors, a five year old girl who was kidnapped, taken to India, and used as a kidney donor, a woman who was locked in a padded room for the rest of her life for the crime of falling in love with a Christian man, a young girl who was stoned for giving birth out of wedlock, a young girl whose father drowned her for shaming the family, forced marriages of teenagers to middle aged men, and horrifying stories of female circumcision.

The fact that Sasson included pictures of the desert, a typical palace, a typical veiled woman, and a picture of the market made it easier for me to form mental images of the place. She has even included some basic information about the countries surrounding Saudi Arabia. In the back of the book, there is a section on the Koran on Women with actual verses from the Koran, Saudi Arabian laws, and a glossary.

The quotes the Koran included in the book; Sura IV 15.

If any of your women
are guilty of lewdness
take the evidence of four witnesses from amongst you,
against them; and if they testify
confine them to houses until
Death do claim them.

For some reason the same does not apply to the men who are guilty of lewdness.

Sura IV 16.
If two men among you
are guilty of lewdness,
Punish them both,
If they repent and amend,
Leave the alone.

These sections add to the book and are very helpful, especially since Sultana travels a bit within Saudi Arabia and many readers are likely to be unfamiliar with the geography of the country, its laws and the customs.

Still the book is from the point of view of a princess and many parts of the book are supposed to be fragment of imagination of the author .Which, if true, is a sad thing as it gives a wrong interpretation of the whole system to the reader.

I found the book very captivating and went ahead to buy the second part, wanting to know more about the land I dreamed of as a future option of living.

Daughters of Arabia

Daughters of Arabia

This book is the second part of a trilogy and Sultana’s fight to gain freedom for women in Saudi Arabia.

The second book starts off by Sultana being found out by her brother Ali who had seen the German translation of the book in an airport. He had been infuriated that someone could write about life as a royal princess and so he bought the book and had it translated.

Ali realizes that it was his own family the book talked about and that the culprit is his sister Sultana.

Sultana, Kareem and the rest of her sisters are summoned and when she sees the translation she realizes that she has been found out and is petrified. Sultana, rebel that she always is, fights back as she feels that she has nothing to lose at this point in time and the reader gets the impression that her life was spared because the royal family could not afford a scandal of this magnitude.

There is such an anti-climax in the first few pages of the book because the author leads the readers to believe in book One that something dreadful was going happen to the princess.

The book then deals with the lives of Sultana’s daughters Maha and Amani.

It is revealed to Sultana and Kareem that their daughter Maha and her friend Aisha were lesbian lovers and Maha has a nervous breakdown. Had the religious militia found out then serious consequences would have been paid for such an act is abhorred. Maha is whisked away to a London clinic and it takes several months before she is cured by a doctor who specialized in the Arabic way of life; he knew how the unbearable constraints of life behind the veil takes its tolls on females.

The description of Annual pilgrimage to Makkah is worth reading and gives an insight into the religious rituals .I found this part very informative as I had always wondered what it was all about.

During the pilgrimage Amani becomes extremely religious to the point of being fanatical. On their return to Riyadh she tries to convert her friends and family and even becomes dictatorial to the servants demanding that they convert to being Muslims.

Sultana, who had fought all of her life to liberate women, now had an extremist daughter, trying to enforce the segregation of men and women, who scorned on women wearing make-up etc. The story revolves around Sultana’s two daughters who fought totally opposite fights.

The story of female circumcision in Egypt and that this ritual is still imposed on young girls who have no say in what happens to them was appalling. To have all your genitalia removed by a razor is barbaric and totally unnecessary.

We see here that the current younger female generation is not as tolerant of the deplorable customs as their mothers and some of the younger males are more sympathetic to the female situation but I do think it will take years to alter the way the majority of the male population in Saudi Arabia view females.

It seems that the male species have misinterpreted some of the teachings of the Koran because it does seem that the Koran is not totally against women.

I wonder what the current condition of women is in these male dominated societies. What does an average woman feel about her life in a system where she is just an object? Maybe in some countries the middle the upper middle and the high classes of the society have relaxed some rules for their women but what about those who still live in the sub human conditions ?

Who is going to change their destiny and are they willing to give up the customs which have been instilled in them from generations? Do these books, media coverage and all the talk about their libration really bring any change?

I hope someone is working in this direction to set the spirit of these enslaved women free.

Marital Rape :Intimate betrayal ….The untold trauma


I had wanted to take up the issue of Marital rape for a long time now .The movie DAMAN by Kalpana Lajmi where Raveena Tondon plays the role of a marital rape victim, made me write about this heinous crime against women.

Violence against women within the family has become a major issue in our society.

Marriage is perceived as ‘socially sanctioned sex’. A legal right to a woman’s mind, body and soul.

I often see men commenting that they “allow “their wives to work, go out and engage in hobbies she likes or do certain other things and wonder who gave them the right to give permission? Do we lose our right as a human being to decide things for ourselves, the moment we get married, and become a slave to the man we choose as a partner for life and do only those things he ‘chooses” to “”allow” us to do.

Centuries of conditioning of male minds makes them believe that they have a right over women. Under the broad term of patriarchy women are treated as second class citizens at home, at work and as citizens in the society.

Domestic violence is itself a small part of the larger subjugation of women by men in society.

A woman is given to understand that her desires and dreams must henceforth be subject to those of her husband. Once married a woman feels guilty of denying her husband his conjugal rights. Under such conditions, many women find it difficult to talk about the physical violence that takes place under the guise of conjugal relations in the marriage. Any mention of rape or sex fills them with shame.

All over the world, steps have been taken to ensure that marital rape is regarded as an offence. In India, however, we do not even admit that marital rape is a reality, let alone a crime. Marital rape is an issue that has long been swept under the carpet. It is something no one wants to talk about.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, says, “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, not being under 15 years of age is not rape.” Marital rape doesn’t even fall under domestic violence.

Quoting section 375

375. Rape.

A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions: –

First: – Against her will.

Secondly: -without her consent.

Thirdly: – With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.

Fourthly: -With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.

Fifthly: – With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.

Sixthly: – With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.

Explanation: – Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offense of rape.

Exception: -Sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

Our laws do not consider marital rape as a crime and only in cases of excessive physical abuse; a woman can file a case for cruelty. Domestic violence is prevalent in many forms in the society and for most of them there is a legal remedy except Marital rape.

There are so many loopholes in the law, about gender, age, caste and so on.

Rape with in marriage is not just the violation of sex; it’s related to a woman’s consent. Her autonomy and bodily integrity are at stake all the time. It’s the violation of self-determination and breach of trust. Marital rape betrays the fundamental basis of marital relationship.

It is an issue of denial of the human rights of women.

I feel that having sex with a person at one time does not “imply” consent to any future sexual acts but in our society a woman is subjected to all kind of sexual atrocities against her will. Not only are wives commonly viewed as the property of their husbands, but more specifically, they are seen as the sexual property of their husbands. Illicit sex, sex on demand, forced sex and sometimes brutal, humiliating sex is experienced by innumerable woman in a marriage.

Unfortunately not many women are aware of the fact that there is a thing called marital rape as they are discouraged to talk openly about sexual issues even within marriage.

And those who are aware do not show enough courage to stand up for their rights for various reasons, social or personal

Many of the marital rape victims end up with HIV and STD’s, unwanted pregnancies and abortions, physical mutations or wounds physical as well as psychological because they lack necessary courage to deny sex without contraception.

The impact of sexual assault lasts a lifetime and the victim suffers from Rape Trauma Syndrome. Feelings of betrayal, anger, guilt, humiliation, fear of intimacy, acute fear of being assaulted again and denial are some of the repercussions of marital rape.

In India, a societal change is needed as much as a legal one. Along with strict laws women need to be courageous enough to come out and report the crime against them, and then only the law can be enforced.

Women go through the most unimagined forms of abuse under the name of marriage. Once we accept this reality we may be able to take the first step towards protecting women.

Until then women will continue to be abused and raped by the one person they trusted most.

Also- Economic empowerment of women is a must because that will break their dependence on men at home.

There are many questions that need to be answered

Is the law a suitable and sufficient remedy for marital rape?

Will women want to have police people intervening?

Will the police give protection to a woman against her husband?

Can a woman walk into a police station and file a complaint against the man she’s married to?

Will at least the women police officers come to her help?

Is the society ready to tackle such an issue?

While a law will help as a deterrent and also in extreme cases, it is equally necessary to raise the consciousness of people, especially men, regarding the status of women.

We need to be aware of our rights; it’s not just the man’s prerogative to enjoy a physical relation. A woman too needs to be a willing participant and not just a provider; she should be able to state when the lines are crossed. Women themselves must break free of societal shackles and fight for justice.

I hope all the men who read this post will take that first step needed to give women the respect and dignity they deserve.

All the women will show courage to come out and fight for their self respect and take the first step of saying “NO”.

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