Discrimination against Women Starts from Mother Womb
India is a country of festivals and one of the festival which is celebrated throughout India with great enthusiasm is Sharad (winter) Navratri (Nine Nights). During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi/ Durga are worshiped in a celestial manner by erecting highly embellished and enormous statue of goddess Durga. Many people remain on fasting for nine days and break their fast after pleasing female children (who are considered guise of goddess Durga) by offering them food and sweets. It shows that we Indians have great respect for females but it is just the one side of the coin and the other side of the coin is much darker and extremely contradictory to our religious principles and sentiments deeply embedded within us which we and our ancestors are preaching from time infinite.
Women have biological advantage over men for longevity and survival. It means that women shall cover the higher area on the population chart in comparison to men. For example the sex ratio of North America is 1029 women over 1000 men and of Europe is 1076 women over 1000 men. India is one among very few countries which have an adverse trend as compared to above mentioned biological proposition where men are more than women (2001 Census: 927 women per 1000 men). It is not like our race is biologically different from the whole world but it is a result of Sex Selective abortion and Female infanticides. The 2005 census shows infants mortality figures female and male are 61 and 56 respectively out of 1000 live births with female more likely to be aborted than males due to biased attitude.
Discrimination against women does no end just in the womb of a mother or as infant. Discrimination continues in the childhood, after marriage and as a widow. Dr. Amartiya Sen has pointed out two main inequalities prevailing in India between men and women. These are education inequality and health inequality. Literacy rate for females stands at 65.46% compared to 82.14% for males. These inequalities persist because our societal structure at least in rural sector does not permit women to work and therefore women are considered as liability and treated just as a child producing machine or domestic help. It is not just the education and health inequalities exist in India but also there is a wage differences too. Women average earning in 64% of what their male counterpart earns for the same occupation and level of education. When a male child is born in the family, his birth is celebrated, whereas it is totally opposite in the case of female child. When they grow up and become suitable for schooling, families send their male children for schooling whereas female children goes not get an opportunity to become educated or they get education in inferior schools. When they reach marriageable age, families of groom gets dowry whereas the families of bride has to lose substantial part of their savings. And this happens when women are less in number than men in Indian Society. After marriage man will be independent and head of his family whereas women will be insecure and dependent. Women will have to give justification for all her acts whether it is going out of home or taking small decisions for the family. In villages women have to cover up her face even at home. Widowers are permitted to remarry whereas widows are not permitted to marry. In fact widows have to wear white or sober cloths throughout her life and she will not be permitted to eat spicy foods or laugh laud. Thanks to law that Sati system has been abolished, in which widows use to burn themselves, alive to meet their husbands in the eternal world. Status of women is lower in Indian society and therefore male child are preferred over a female child. Even women in India do not object to such partiality and anarchy because throughout life they are treated inferior to male and this is deeply engraved in their minds.
Though socially women are at a disadvantage, Indian law highly favours women. In the case of divorce women gets the custody of a child. There is a stringent punishment for dowry and domestic violence in India. In case of any offence against women relating to bodily injury or assault the onus of proving the case of women wrong is on men. Even political system supports women. There are commissions for women to uplift their status in society and to provide all type of support. Many state governments are providing monetary and other benefits (such as free schooling, dress, and transport etc.) to the girl child and her family. There is a provision for reservation of seats in political structure and various committees. Undoubtedly the efforts so far have delivered positive results and conditions and status of women have been improved considerably as compare to conditions and status of women few decades ago except recent years.
Things have been changing, however our mentality never changed and our mind is still discriminate against females. If that was not the case we may not have been hearing in news about female child killings. I believe that ever rape, eve-teasing, acid attacks etc. is also a result of this ill mentality. These offences occur because the offender in most cases is of the mentality that women are inferior and they have no respect for her. Who is to be blamed? I blame our society which consider women lesser to men, our families which have differentiated between male and female child and not teaching female to fight for her self-respect and integrity and ourselves for not taken any steps even after knowing that this evil exist in our society and our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters are facing this differential behavior if not at home then may be at schools, collages, workplaces, public places etc.
As per latest census (2011) the sex ratio has been further declined to 914 Female/ 1000 males. There is a steep increase in killing of female infanticide, sex selective abortions and crime against women in the last decade. All the government efforts have now not producing any fruitful results. The situation is deteriorating. There is a need to change our mentality towards female to make India a much better society otherwise it will be too late.