For how many more years will we follow an archaic practice in the name of religion and God?
I am appalled. And heart-broken.
Over dinner yesterday, someone visiting us shared the horrifying story of how a young lady in her extended family is being ill-treated by her (the lady’s) in-laws. We know the young lady to be very talented and so it was particularly hard to stomach her story.
Apart from being asked to follow meaningless, archaic, rituals, in the name of religion, the young lady, I understand, has to face the ignominy of being isolated from the rest of the family during her periods each month. Apparently, she cannot even read a book in the time because that would mean “polluting Goddess Saraswati”. However, it appears that she can go to work because her income goes to supporting the family. Seriously, things can’t get more pathetic and hypocritical than this!
The young lady is an engineer; she works at a large MNC. She is hardly 27, so I presume her in-laws may possibly be in their 50s; which is, they belong to my generation. What gets my goat is that someone my age, in today’s world, practises a ‘custom’ that tramples on the self-esteem of a woman. And we are mute spectators, unable to do anything to stop this atrocity? How will we step into someone’s home and question them, when the girl herself is not protesting the treatment being meted out to her? Her father, her mother and her brother too don’t appear to have an issue there. So, how can we, “rank outsiders”, get involved?
I just don’t get it. You need a woman to be your son’s wife, you need her salary, you need the grandchild, but you don’t think it is important to respect the woman for who she is?
To be sure, I know so many young people who stand up for empowering women. But I guess their crusade is often directed at the uneducated, underprivileged segments of society. What do we do when in our elite, educated circles, folks my age behave in such a regressive manner? Would the in-laws of the lady have allowed it if their daughter was treated the way they are treating their daughter-in-law?
On a wall, opposite to the Russian Cultural Centre on Kasturi Ranga Road in Chennai, there’s a graffiti that screams out a message, loud and clear, for all of humanity. It says: “Women menstruate, get over it!” I wish someone painted that graffiti on the walls of this family’s house.
Honestly, I am lost, I am appalled, I am heart-broken. And I am clueless. I believe all I can do is pray. With due respect to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, I pray that my land rises into a heaven “where, without exception, women are respected”.