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The fate of Indian women

Why girls in India live hard

The fate of Indian women

“To answer the question of how things are going with this or that nation, I just need to know what is the position of women there,” said Jawaharlal Nehru, an outstanding political figure in India.

Films shot in Bollywood are remembered not only by the endless songs and dances, now and again bursting into the plot, but also by the images of Indian women - beautiful and graceful, dressed in a delicate sari. At the moment of danger, the heroines of Indian cinema are able to be bold and decisive and independently organize their own destiny, as in the popular movie Zita and Gita. Cinema as an art form either copies reality, or embellishes it. In Indian cinema - there is a second case. The role of a woman in this country has traditionally been reduced to the creation of home comfort and the birth of children. Provide a family of men. They also take care of elderly parents, inherit property and land. And although in cities, thanks to the established legislation and the influence of the West, women receive education, make a career and can decide for themselves when and for whom to marry, in the rural area that occupies most of the country's territory, everything is different. Economic backwardness and the authority of age-old traditions "hold" rural women in real captivity.

Golden age of indian women

In the third millennium BC, in the era when the Vedas were created - the ancient Indian collections of religious hymns, women in India enjoyed rights that were not found in any of the civilized countries of the ancient world. Of course, the whole world was already living according to men's laws and in families it was preferred to sons over daughters. India, too, was no exception, but all children enjoyed the same education. Both boys and girls went through the “brahmacharya” stage, the apprenticeship. Until the age of eighteen, no one spoke of her daughter being married. The girls could choose their spouse relatively freely and did not hide their faces before or after the wedding, did not hide, freely appearing in public, taking part in public life, and most importantly, in observing religious rites. If a woman became a widow, she could marry again. Self-immolations of widows, child marriages, murders of girls and women, and much more, with which India is now unsuccessfully fighting, in the golden age of women's equality did not exist. But even in those beautiful and amazing times, a woman had no right to own or inherit property. That's because the migrant Aryans then lived in India in the minority, gradually conquering a huge country. They had to constantly fight with the natives, so the right to land ownership was only among those who could protect it.

The custom of giving girls serious education continued to exist in the millennium and a half BC. In the literary and philosophical writings of ancient India left a lot of female names. But gradually girls were increasingly taught at home, which reduced the level of education and reduced the number of educated women. The fair sex is increasingly receding into the background in public affairs, and their status has steadily declined. Religious rituals, especially sacrifices, became more and more intricate, the slightest mistake or inaccuracy in their performance threatened with great misfortunes, therefore, women were removed from their most important ones. So women's education has almost lost the need. Parents began to adult daughters and tried to get them married early. Moreover, the first duty of an Indian man to his ancestors is to give birth to a son. It turns out that the girl can and should have been married as soon as she can give birth.

The marriage age of women began to decline rapidly, and the girl-wives could not count on the role of equal partners in the family. The issues of marriage began to be solved by parents, girls were brought up, preparing for obedience to their husbands. Then the famous formula appeared: the wife can not go to the temple, because the husband is her god. Marriage has become an indestructible union - but only for a woman. The husband had the right to give up his wife for a thousand reasons, and when he was widowed, he should marry again, "so that the sacred fire in his house does not go out."

The widow could not marry again for a second time and she had to fast all her life and pray, walk with shaved head, wear only white. Any jewelry was banned. And if the widow was a very small girl, which often happened during wars and seizures, the future was no longer good for her. It remained to hope only for retribution in the next birth: according to the laws of karma, pious life could bring her well-being. Hindus, by the way, believe that the husband dies with the woman who in the previous life "beat" other people's husbands, and therefore they treat widows accordingly. It is believed that you are not widowed with good karma.

Bride for sale

“We claim the glory of a computer power; we launch ships into space. But as for marriages, it’s just some medieval! ”, Exclaims the Indian Express newspaper. Marriages in India have long been concluded not in heaven, but by agreement between families. The most respectable newspapers print marriage announcements that are submitted not by boys and girls, but by their parents. “A well-to-do family is looking for a bride for the eldest son,” the most typical announcement on the “dating” page, divided into castes and religious groups. Recently, a new rubric has appeared - “caste does not matter,” but it is not very popular. 
Families looking for a bride for their sons, first of all, indicate the size of the groom's salary and the scope of his activities. Then the relatives are listed - the father lawyer and the brother doctor will help to attract the attention of enviable brides. Appearance - eye color or weight, not detailed. And the height of the groom in centimeters in 162 does not prevent loving parents from characterizing his appearance with the epithet “beautiful”. Parents of the girl, to marry her, have to collect a dowry - dauri. This is a tribute to tradition, and the most real deal between two families: the size of the dowry is often equal to five times the annual family income. And the marriage deal may be, when the bride is still a child. Although the laws of India prohibit child marriage, and the official age of registration of a new family - 19 years for a girl and 21 for a young man, the “sale of a girl” intended for a wife, remains quite common.

Often the question of the dowry remains open even after the wedding, when the groom or members of his family remain unhappy with the amount received. Many husbands understand that by marrying again, they will only improve their financial situation. Therefore, accidents that end with the death of wives are often staged. According to the UN, in India, about 5 thousand women die each year, according to other organizations - up to 15 thousand. In most cases, it is not possible to bring the perpetrators to justice. Although the payment of a dowry in India since 1961 is banned by law, in everyday practice its value is only growing.

Thus, the daughter in the family is a financial burden. Although the Indian parliament has equalized daughters in the right to inherit land and other parental property, sons are considered to be the breadwinners of the family.

Why on 8 girls on the statistics 10 guys?

The birth of girls and the increase in the female population in India is hampered not only by centuries-old traditions, but also by modern technologies. Today approximately 62% of the world's population can resort to the procedure of artificial termination of pregnancy. 26% of the inhabitants of the Earth live in countries where abortions are prohibited, and the rest - where, due to contradictory legislation, it is possible to interrupt pregnancy, but not all and not always. In India, the law on abortion is one of the most liberal in the world. Even local religions do not impose any prohibitions. And according to the law passed in 1971, Indian women are allowed to interrupt pregnancy, even in later periods. The only thing that can be needed in individual cases is permission from the family. Among the ten most populous countries in the world, India leads the way in the quantitative difference between newborn boys and girls. According to research for 2001 year, for every 1000 boys in India 927 girls are born. Since then, accurate calculations have not been carried out, but there is evidence that the gap continues to increase. In some Indian states the situation is quite frightening. For example, in the Punjab, the ratio between young men and women according to the latest data was 1000 at 793, in industrial Gujarat - 1000 on 878. The female population of India began to decline rapidly not so long ago. This happened when in the homeland of the Kama Sutra, yoga and ayurveda, compact ultrasonic diagnostic devices appeared, and the doctors of large hospitals began to "tour" the villages from time to time. Having paid for the procedure for about 11 dollars and having found out the sex of the future child, pregnant women behave differently. If a boy is to be born, the whole family is happy and is waiting for his birth. If the girl - consult with relatives and most often decide on an abortion. According to the newspaper "Action Age", in the state of Uttar Pradesh, for each child born, two died as a result of abortion.

Sexism in family planning is not only for India. In the Asian countries, a real genocide is happening against the weaker sex. Women either refuse to give birth to their own kind, knowing how hard their life will be, or they make abortion under the pressure of relatives. In addition to India, the shortage of women will soon be very noticeable in South Korea and China, where in families the sons are also given preference. The threat of extinction is, of course, not threatened - obeying the biological instinct of "extra" men just change their place of residence. But recently, among a variety of public organizations with intricate names appeared several new ones - their members are struggling with abortion on the basis of gender in Asian countries. And, unlike the movements fighting for women's rights and the prohibition of abortions in general, these consist predominantly of men and do not act for equality-they just want more women around.

However, not all Indian women can afford abortion: this kind of surgery is not cheap. In poor families, unwanted girls are simply killed as soon as they are born.

The practice of killing newborn girls originated in the distant past among the Rajputs, an ancient caste that ranked itself among the descendants of the military class, but in the course of time it took root in other castes. A certain role was played not only by the fear of a half-starving life and the reluctance to pay Dauri, but also the desire to ensure the future of the family. Daughters get married and go to another family, and care for the elderly father and mother falls on sons. And, according to tradition, only a son, not a daughter, has the right to light a funeral pyre after the death of his parents. Therefore, in some families the birth of the first-born girl was considered a bad omen, almost a misfortune.

The problem of treating newborns in general and infants in particular is very painful for modern Indian society. One non-governmental organization in India found, for example, that the killing of babies is a frequent occurrence in the state of Bihar. Volunteers managed to find out that only in the provincial town of Katihara and its environs, midwives monthly with the consent of their parents deprive about 560 newborns, mostly girls, who are traditionally considered to be unnecessary mouths in indigent Indian families. For each crime they take from 100 to 200 rupees - this is 3-6 US dollars. Methods of killing babies chill blood: they are strangled, drunk with poisonous plants juice, placed in clay pots, blocking air access. Murder of newborns is also often practiced in the states of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. It is almost impossible to bring someone to justice, because murders are approved by parents, and performers never admit anything, fearing punishment and the prospect of losing "easy" earnings. The overwhelming majority of cases of physical destruction of babies fall on economically backward areas, whose population lives in extreme poverty.

It cannot be said that the government of India did not try to correct the situation. A special law prohibiting prenatal sex determination of the child in the absence of medical indications was created as early as 1996. But since then, the solution of the problem has hardly moved from its place. There are tens of thousands of private clinics in the country, which, even under the fear of various kinds of punishments, will not refuse, for a fee, to examine the fetus. Abortions are also often performed there.

The state and today is trying to solve this problem. A number of laws have been passed in support of families with only daughters - they are guaranteed free education and scholarship. And feminists who are fighting for the rights of Indian women are increasingly demanding party quotas in parliament and local governments.

On the fire of "love"

It is unlikely that any other phenomenon in the life of Indians causes such a surge of emotions in society as "sati" - the ritual self-immolation of the widow at the funeral pyre of the deceased husband. Each such case stirs people, becoming the subject of heated debate in the pages of newspapers and magazines, an occasion for organizing public speeches and demonstrations, both condemning the cruel tradition and defending it.

There is an ancient legend, supposedly telling about the birth of the cult of self-immolation of women. She talks about the goddess Sati, faithful and devoted to the wife of Lord Shiva. Father Satie did not approve of this marriage and treated his son-in-law with contempt. One day he made a feast, to which he summoned all the gods, except Shiva. Loving husband Sati took this as an insult to her husband. In protest, she went up to the sacrificial fire and was burned in the fire. Learning about the self-immolation of his wife and his reason, angry Shiva cut off his father's head. Then he collected the remains of Sati and wandered along the mountains for a long time in inconsolable grief. Where a handful of ashes fell to the ground, temples grew and lakes formed.

Many sources associate the emergence of the custom "sati" with the act of the consort of Shiva in many sources. But in scientific circles there is no consensus on this issue yet. According to one of the historical versions, the self-immolation of widows was first practiced among the nomads of Central Asia, and then spread from there to the territory of present-day India. In times of endless wars and conquests, women who lost their husbands and lost their protection in their face often resorted to suicide, not wanting to become prey to foreign invaders. In India itself, in the Middle Ages, the custom of “djauhar” was quite common: when the fortress besieged by the enemy could no longer defend, women gathered together in a room and burned themselves so that the defenders of the fortress could go to the last battle that their wives and daughters will be prey to the enemy.

Opponents of "sati" claim that during the period when the foundations of Indian culture were being formed, the ways of social life and behavioral standards, this rite in India was not. This version proves the absence of references to widow self-immolations in the Vedas, which, in addition to songs and hymns dedicated to the forces of nature, contain various rules of behavior. It turns out that in later times the temple hierarchy of the Hindus, deliberately ignoring the texts of the sacred Vedas, began to chant the sacrifice of the goddess Sati and preach the self-immolation of widows as the highest manifestation of marital fidelity and an act of fusion with the deity. The brahmans, in particular, argued that if a wife burned alive with her husband's corpse, she could cleanse him of earthly sins, only after that both of them are destined to live happily in heaven more 35 of millions of years - as many as, according to Indian ideas, there are hairs on the human body.

It is known that in the 5 century BC. The rite of "sati" was banned in India. However, in the 5-7 centuries AD. Again reborn. And although the terrible rite was performed by no more than two percent of widows, the memory of it deeply crashed into the public consciousness. Perhaps the glorification of "sati" had mercenary motives: the women burned alive were canonized, in their honor they declared holidays, built temples and sanctuaries, becoming places of worship for the Hindus. They were the believers and pilgrims, whose donations traditionally form the basis of the material prosperity of the clergy and various businessmen profiting from believers. Today, despite the ban, officially imposed on the "sati," postcards with images of voluntarily burned widows with nimbuses around the head are published in hundreds of thousands of copies and are actively sold. The number of temples and sacred places dedicated to the victims of "sati" in India is hundreds. Among them - "Marimanu" ("Big Tree") in the southwest of Andhra Pradesh, where a unique 600-year old banyan grows, which is considered to be the largest tree in the world and entered in the Guinness Book of Records. In his crown, fifteen hundred branches with his own root system. The sacred tree formed a whole grove with an area of ​​more than two hectares. Here on religious holidays up to 30 thousand people gather. Meetings of believers under a giant tree are held in glory of the declared holy local queen Thammam. Having lost her husband, she voluntarily parted with life, going up to the fire. This happened in the 16th century under the crown of the then young banyan, and since then the locals have kept the memory of this event, forbid tearing leaves from the tree and injuring it. A fence was erected around the masterpiece of nature, which became a religious shrine, and a security zone was formed.

Known throughout the country and located in Rajasthan temple "Mahavir Vatica", built in honor of Sati Dadi, 400 years ago, burned out of her own free will at the funeral pyre of her husband. Like the famous banyan, in this church, on the day of martyr's death, a two-day "puja" is held every year - a religious festival, for which up to 50 thousand people gather. However, because of fears to attract the attention of local authorities, feminist organizations and the press monitoring the observance of the law on the prohibition of "sati" and the cases of glorification of those who performed this rite, in recent years the clergy have to mask the prayers in honor of Sati Dadi worshiping the goddess Durga. Despite the fact that such a disguise turns out to be sewn with white threads, no one follows the organizers of the holiday. But if desired, you could convict the clergy in hypocrisy and direct violation of the law: in this area Durga does not belong to the popular goddesses, and simple believers do not hide their intentions to bow to Sati Dadi when they are asked about it.

In the past, the Rajput dynasties of Rajasthan were the most zealous supporters of the Sati rite. And today this Western state is leading: it accounts for up to two thirds of the total number of cases of self-immolation of women throughout the country. Ninety per cent of the Rajasthan sati occurs in the Shekhawati area. From time to time tragic messages come from other parts of the country.

The law prohibiting "sati", adopted in the country a long time ago. Severe punishment was imposed on persons inciting women to perform the medieval rite, as well as its participants: they face the death penalty or life imprisonment. Those guilty of glorifying cases and practices of “sati” should also be brought to criminal responsibility and punished with imprisonment up to seven years and large fines, as well as be deprived of the right to run for representative bodies. Hindu temples in which ceremonies are held in memory of those who committed “sati” should be closed. But one thing is to adopt a law and quite another to fulfill it in practice. Mass media point to the unwillingness of eyewitnesses to such tragedies to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.

Despite the technological achievements of the country, a significant part of the population, as well as centuries ago, continues to drag on a miserable existence in the rural outback, struggling to get their own food. The spiritual values ​​of modern civilization take root there with incredible difficulty. People can not free themselves from the bonds of an outdated way of life and continue to follow the rules established in ancient times even in everyday life, even if they are as cruel as "sati." In addition, a respectful attitude to everything connected with the past, deeds and life of the ancestors is one of the most stable features of the national character. Perhaps, therefore, in many cases, fidelity to traditions takes precedence over fear of laws and punishment. Despite the claims of the clergy that women were willing to self-immolation, it was reliably established that their decision was the result of at least a strong psychological impact from the relatives of their ex-husbands. There are reasons to believe that the victims went to the fire not in a "spiritual impulse", but under the influence of drugs.

It should also be taken into account that with the premature loss of her husband the social status of a woman was sharply reduced, she practically became rejected by the surrounding and despised by the society being. And often she had no choice but to follow the custom of "sati."

The contradictions of life

Traditional Indian love of peace is known around the world. It is embodied in the ancient moral and ethical concept of non-violence - “Ahimse”, which calls not to harm any living thing on Earth, not to man, nor to a flower, nor to a bug. In the major Indian religions prevalent in India, this is one of the key principles. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the theory comes into conflict with practice, legislation with a life order, politics with economics, and decent customs and traditions with those that can hardly be considered as such. 

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