Ring the Bell – Bring in the Change!


Image Courtesy: Indi Blogger
Image Courtesy: Indi Blogger

Warning: Long post ahead!

Written as a part of Indiblogger and Bellbajao.org Write the Change

Far be it for me to write about anything as serious as women’s lib, equality or any topic that might sound even remotely serious – I have always shared my thoughts only on subjects that I am passionate about – books, art, food and travel. I have intentionally stuck to things that make me happy at the expense of not sounding serious or not having anything valuable to say! But its time to CHANGE and time to RING THE BELL

I often hear of the ways of certain people our modern and educated society that pretty much gets my blood boiling! I have always believed that with education and good employment  opportunities  you can truly remove a man or woman from the cage of   old school thoughts and practices, prejudices and more. But what life has taught me is that you can free them from such a cage but never really remove the spirit of the cage from within them!

An email from IndiBlogger detailing their “Ring the Bell” initiative was all it took for me to a serious blog post. Someone should let the world know the ways of our country when we would like to think that “India is shining” – Shining?? Yes definitely but more because of the tears that most people and their families shed!

About the “Ring The Bell” initiative:

Laws alone are not enough. Ring The Bell believes in the power of individual and collective action to challenge the habits, norms, and cultures that perpetuate violence. One person adds up to one million; one million acts add up to change.

 You can be a part of the change by telling us how YOU will Ring The Bell, and inspiring your readers to do the same. What action will you take to bring violence against women to a halt? Blog about your experiences, your intentions, and make a promise!

 Blog about Ring the Bell, and for every 50 entries received, Breakthrough will put 1 lakh INR towards training self-help groups (SHGs), community-based organisations (CBOs) and youth in schools in the district of Gaya in the state of Bihar.

Is violence against women always physical? How are emotional assaults classified? If you ask me, these are the worst types of violence against women as affect a woman’s self-confidence and literally break her down. And of course many in our country, men and OTHER WOMEN, especially WOMEN seem to be very adept with this technique!

Every incident / story detailed below is a real story from the lives of people who I am close to ; the stories of those that won’t talk and this attitude frustrates me!  Today I speak up for my Indian sisters, mothers and friends and I promise that next time something like this happens in front of me I will try (yes again!!) to  educate such characters,stand up for the ones being victimized and of course blog about their stories!…I mean when no amount of counselling works, one just becomes a mute listener like me and writes about it with the hope that someone reading this can learn something, be more careful in the future, be more gutsy or just SPEAK UP if at all, god forbid they come across such situations.

How can we explain the following?

Case 1: Force and threats: Forcing Brainwashing  a confident girl with a great attitude about being single and a happening career (she is employed in a leading IT company) into a marrying into an extremely orthodox family when:

  • The girls parents know that she is not interested!! All this just to ensure that someone will take care of her when she gets old?
  • She is past 30 (??) – I thought we live in 2013 where the 30’s are the new 20’s! But then apparently that statement is just made for laughs!
  • She does not have much family support – Oh wait! She she has a brother; the issue is that the said brother is married and moved out ages ago and does not really care one way or the other. And his lovely wife does not do much to encourage him to be in touch with his own family!

I know this girl and I am sure that she is not into this to make herself happy, but has no choice as she needs to make her parents happy. My question: how will the parents be happy when their daughter is not? How will the girl try to make peace with herself when she is getting into a marriage with a heavy heart? She is looking at a future with conservative life styles and thoughts when she is the complete antonym of anything of that sort!! I still don’t get it…

Case 2: Dowry!! Dowry! More Dowry! Repeated and unreasonable demands of dowry in the form of gold, diamonds and cash from a boys parents to the girl and her parents! And this is a family where the men are educated with decent jobs (alas! They don’t have daughters else they would understand) but then cannot seem to get out of the clutches of their monster moms! Let me quote a few instances:

  • All gold jewellery that the DIL wore during her wedding has been locked away by the mother and co-sister in their cupboards! The girl needs to ask their permission to wear her own jewellery!  
  • The daughter in law (DIL) is not allowed to wear anything but salwars and sarees! No kurtis, short sleeves, net sleeves, deep back blouses and no jeans! All this when the girl wore everything before she was married. Her own husband got her a pair of jeans post marriage but then agrees with his mom that she should be dressed like a conservative maid now! 
  • Eating out is never allowed!
  •  Any sweets or snacks that her mom took for her daughter would be coveted by the mother in law and co-sister as if they have never had any food! The girl rarely ever tasted anything..
  •  Her co-sister stole borrowed all her accessories  cosmetics, deo-sprays when the girl was at work! We still don’t where all her gold jewellery is!
  • More gold jewellery (sigh! this is getting tiring) was demanded from her parents for almost every festival celebration in the first year of marriage and the ridiculous demands continue
  • The girl had a baby – time for celebrations!! Yes?? God forbid  – the baby is a girl! And now the husband and MIL have clearly stated that the little girl would also need to be raised as per norms and cultures that date about 1000 years ago! And more gold was demanded this time for the little baby!!
  • This takes the cake: Her husband ensured that his wife’s delivery charges were entirely handled by the girl and her parents (who incidentally had to take loans to cover the expenses), but was shameless enough to use the hospital bills to claim medical reimbursement at his office and then not give even a single penny to his wife or her parents! 
  • He demanded that his wife cough up the money to handle the expenses of the naming ceremony for their child while his mother insisted that her in-laws present their grand daughter with more gold jewellery….
  • The husband avoids visits to the pediatrician when his daughter gets her baby immunization shots so that he can avoid paying for the same – What a gentleman! Chivalrous to the core! (Typed with a sarcastic tone)
  • The girls mother-in-law insists that when she gets back to her husbands house with the baby, more gold jewellery should be given for the baby
  • They have made it quite clear that the girl or her family have no say in the upbringing of their grand daughter – its ironic considering that the girl is the mother of their grand daughter!

To top it all the mother in law, Co-sister and husband constantly make sure that the girl and her mother are constantly aware of their shortcomings (Not enough dowry, no this and no that!!) and find fault with everything that they do along with newer fresher demands for more gold, cash and what nots!!

If I could have had a penny for the every instance the words “gold jewellery” appeared in case 2 I could retire rich!

Case 3:Big, Strong Men! Say What?? Men who want to actually help their wives and their families in general but then are scared to do so as his parents may not be happy if he helped the girls family!!  Seriously and these guys call themselves MEN!!

I can go on and on considering I have been hearing these stories for long now! I could keep writing till I fill a book, but then I am feeling disgusted already! What annoys me more is that most of these women(case 1 and 2) are smart and independent but do not want to fight for their rights or whats due to them. They seem to be prefer being martyrs though I do not understand their cause! Apparently suffering in silence is in vogue!

And the men in their lives? All that they do is stand by and watch as their daughters, wives and mother go through these never ending vicious cycles, as we end up with a country of more monster in laws,bitter women and , crimes against women….so how can we end this? Here is what I think we can do:

  • Education is the key – if a mother in law treats her daughter in law like her daughter, she in turn would treat her daughter in law well thus creating a generation of  happy moms, daughter in laws and mother in laws 🙂 And as an additional treat men will be happy too!! Just thinking about this makes me feel like I am in heaven!

  • Ban those serials – Hindi,Tamil, Telugu or Kannada – any serial that has woman abusing a woman physically or mentally should be banned! Enough of these saas-bahu sagas where the MIL demands a never ending dowry, where women call women cheap names and even plot their deaths, where MILs looks at their DILs as competition for their son’s affection, where MILS and FILS want to be in control of the lives of their children – again one could go on and on! If you are Indian you will definitely understand what I mean..Why don’t producers and directors do shows where the in laws are nice and friendly and actually behave like mature responsible adults??

  • Stop Objectifying women! I wish actresses these days would take their jobs more seriously and say no to “Sheila Ki Jawani” or “Muni”, avoid barely there costumes and stop draping the saree as if it were a hand kerchief!!! No wonder most of the country seems to equate women to a bottle of beer or some piece of chicken! Are actresses and producers listening? If none of you were do make movies like this there is no question of loosing to the competition

  • Treat your daughters like you treat your sons! Send them to those kick boxing classes! Allow them to wear their heels and skirts.  Teach them that it is no crime to be  ambitious or have dreams to achieve the impossible. Advise them, support them – just don’t smother them or be a hurdle! Teach them to be courageous and bold. I once read this on FB: “Do no harm, but take no bull shit either!!” Yes! drill this into their heads and watch them grow into spirited young women with the right values

  • Matrimonial Ads: News papers should stop accepting matrimonial ads that request for fair, slim, beautiful, educated and homely girls without spectacles! What if needs to wear glasses post marriage? Does she get dumped??
    • If you need someone to take care of your house work, get a maid
    • If you need someone to look pretty and hot and not have a brain, make sure you are handsome and rich enough to maintain such a woman!
    • If you want an employed woman who will give you all her money no questions asked, it’s better you invest in the share market and enjoy the spoils!
    • If you want someone who will be there for you, share your dreams and ambitions and  walk with you for life them find such a woman and get married to her. She might not be hot or be  great at household chores, but she will be there when u need her.
  • Can we ban dowry? Demands in any form (gold, cash, house, property, vehicles, furniture…)from a woman and her family when she gets married. Ok! Stop laughing at me, but anything is possible if we want it bad enough and try hard!

Best of all just respect and support the women in your lives. I think everything else will pretty much fall in place there after.

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12 comments

  1. This was an imp blog post and I so agree having seen few of similar examples myself. However, my biggest grudge is when its women against women. What do you say when mil treats her daughter better then her DIL. What do you do when you feel your SIL gets all the attention and no work. I have seen many households and found these to be the under the rug feelings culminating into other bigger things. I don’t have answers to these situation, I so wish I had. We need to respect ourselves and fellow women more than anybody else.

    • Yes,sometimes its the culmination of hurt feelings and emotions that cause families to break! What is strange is if the MIL was treated like this by her MIL, why should behave the same way (considering she knows what she went through) with her DIL? It’s strange that many feel that “I suffered so let me DIL also suffer!!” Its sad….if you have a DIL who is feisty and fights back then its the start of a yet another saas-bahu Mahabharath in the country….

      • Lol yes ..on top of it if you look at most of the cases like someone insisting on a young independent lady to get married you will find a lady acting behind the scenes. Unless we give ourselves a chance, how wld some one else give it.. if we can try to be understanding with our men why not with fellow women. If we get jealous its a fight to hell,why shld it be. Live and let live..Anyway this was a topic close to my heart and you gave me a platform to share something which has always bothered me.So tx 🙂

      • Yeah, it’s a complete case of I was a victim once and to right the wrongs that were done by me, I must victimize someone else; namely my daughter-in-law. And these days, a lot of girls don’t take kindly to being victims which just leads to so much unecessary unpleasantness!

  2. I agree with you completely. I have often wondered how families who comprise only well educated members continue to think the only future for a girl is marriage, no matter how smart she is and how well educated or qualified she is.

    The other issue is , of course, age. People still think 24-25 is the age for a girl to get married and it will be difficult to adjust after she turns 26 or older. How is it that a girl morphs into a virago post 25 is still beyond comprehension to all of us! Nowadays, girls only finish studying by 24-25 at the least, and then has to find a job and establish herself in whatever career she wants to take up, before rushing into a marriage she isn’t sure of.

    If a girl finds someone she wants to spend her life with while she is still studying or when she is very young, well, that is a different issue, at least the decision to spend her life with someone is HER decision.

    I know of a case where a very confident girl had finished an undergraduate from a leading university but was unsure of what to do next so moved back home for a year to evaluate options and write entrance exams and her mother wanted to get her married in that year! The reason being she wasn’t being productive and was unsure of what next! What sense does it make to marry your daughter off to someone she hardly knows, when she hardly knows herself? What if something goes wrong?

    I could go on and on and on but I should stop before I bore everyone to tears!

    • Yes – the scene is pretty bad and no matter what we say or do it doesn’t seem to show signs of improvement! These things keep happening whether the girl went to school or is a Phd!! The case that you mentioned is a very clear example – What can one do when her own parents are in favor of something like this? And people do think that their daughters are more productive when they are married – its sad but true! Changing this mind set is like lifting mountains! But we can keep trying…..

  3. I feel that today its not so simple, its very complex issue, and men are not primarily impoortant, women whether MIL or DIL whoever get the chance victimises the other..

    • Well nobody is innocent, but the point is this is a vicious cycle and it can break only of somebody takes the effort. If a MIL treats the DIL badly, in the future the DIL might be inlclined to treat her son’s wife the same way! If someone just made the effort and said enough – I am going to be like a friend to my DIL, the future gets better in an instant…and as for men, I agree they are not innocent at all! Problem is many just can’t think for themselves – its about time they started using their brains and think on their own!

  4. I think the main objective here should be to improve the self esteem of women in general. In all the cases, it seems to be very low and I think that can come only through positive reinforcement while bringing up the girl and telling her that it is not about the way she dresses, looks, talks or behaves, but rather its about her at the end of the day. I think the media also plays a vile role not just the serials etc but even the stupid ads that dictate what a desirable woman ought to be like. The only thing a woman should be taught is that she does not exist to please others but to make the most of her own life.

  5. Wow SRS…nice post and i endorse most of what you have stated even though i am from the other side of the fence 🙂 . A change is seriously required in the society and i personally feel that each one of us need to contribute in bringing about the change for betterment of one and all.

    • Hey thanks Ramesh! Lets hope that the attitude of teh citizens of our country changes in the next 100 years at least….though at this point in time it looks more like it would take 500 yrs!

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