‘The International Day of the Girl Child’, I have been
reading about it either in the form of status on my friends’ walls or shared
posts on the social network today. However to tell you the truth all this feels
anything but real; perhaps slightly hypocritical. I have had the fortune or
shall I say misfortune, to come across such people and learn such ugly truths
of life in this very country of ours that any talks about a day dedicated to
the Girl Child seems nothing more than a sham or a facade to me.
I met a girl or shall I say a woman this week. She is
educated and works as a teacher in her hometown. Well wouldn’t that attribute
towards us assuming that she is independent and has the freedom to take decisions
about her own life. Ofcourse without a doubt yes for education is supposedly
the key to liberation, isn’t it? However, I was shocked to find out the extent
to which I was wrong. Being educated may give you the avenue to earn a few
bucks but that’s about it in some parts of our country; or should I say most
parts of our great nation! I was surprised to find out that a woman standing on
‘her own two feet’ doesn’t enjoy the freedom to wear the clothes she wants to.
Yes, whether it is a jeans with a simple top or even a sleeveless salwar
kameez; she doesn’t enjoy the liberty to wear those. The reason being her
eldest brother has reservations against those outfits. It may seem something
very trivial to many; afterall what is the big deal right? A country which
boasts of being the greatest democracy has brothers; parents; husbands and morally
uptight society members who hold the key to deciding and manoeuvring the
choices of a woman. She was a girl child once too; then why wasn’t she brought
up with the confidence to ignore such diktats and follow her heart? Whether it is
respect or fear that makes her keep these desires of her hidden inside the deep
crevices of her heart? It hurts that something that I can so easily do; is only
a dream for some.
That’s not all. There are more anecdotes which show the
nature of the society we live in and why these International or National days
for Women or Girls are just mere gimmicks; atleast in our ‘wretched nation’.
There is an acquaintance of mine; she works in a multinational company and is
what you call the woman of today. She got married and after a few years was
pregnant with her first child. Yes, her in-laws were very excited and why
wouldn’t they be; their grandchild was on the way. Finally when the time came
for them to welcome the tiny bundle of joy into their lives; something
happened. It was perhaps nothing for the on-lookers eyes; but it certainly
caught my and my friend’s attention. The first thing her in-laws told her was
that next time they would want a grandson. Yes; she had just had the most
adorable little baby girl. Instead of marvelling at her innocence they were
craving for a grandson. So yes when in such a society one talks about a day
dedicated to girl child; it find it offending and annoying!
Oh there is more. I was at a social function at a small town
few kilometres from our Capital. What struck me was there were two sections of
ladies- one where all wore simple slawar kameezes; even without duppatas while
the second where all were in sarees with their heads covered. The former
laughed and talked freely while the latter walked timidly doing all the chores.
It took me some time to figure out the difference for all seemed to be around
the same age group. It was then that I realised that the ones in salwars were
the daughters of the family while those in sarees were the daughters-in-law.
When I asked someone present as to why weren’t they allowed to stay as freely
as the daughters of the house I was looked at sceptically from head to toe.
Their stares and answers seemed to suggest that this is the only way for
daughters-in-law to be. Sick and double-faced right? Yes, I thought the same
too. The sad part was it was scorching hot around that time and even women with
infants had to follow the so called ‘protocol’ inspite of all the discomfort.
Ours is a nation wherein in the name of traditions utter
rubbish, nonsense and gibberish is preached and practiced Women like me can
afford to live their lives according to their hearts' content but there are
hundreds of others who are still oppressed; sometimes even educated and working
The irony is most of the time men force their wives or
sisters or daughters to follow garbage customs because they don’t have it in
them to stand up to their beliefs or wishes. Actually it’s not even their fault
for they don’t know how important something as basic as wearing certain clothes
or not sporting certain accessories could be. How would they know for they can
even wear shorts in the most conservative of households! Their lifestyle never
changes or is never under scanner. The sad part is even if it would be; their
wives or sisters or daughters would never coerce them into doing something
against their comfort or wishes. But a man is a MAN and a woman is a poor woman
in our society.
Unless the basics of the way we live our lives change there
is really no point in talking about doing something special for a girl child or
women on a certain day out of the 365 days of a year!