I’m a Girl

Blog Action Day 2014

I’m taking part in Blog Action Day (#BAD2014) and the theme this year is #Inequality.

Being a female and from a country where gender discrimination continues to be an enormous problem, I didn’t have to think twice about the topic to write on.

The fight starts off from my mother’s womb.

Get the sex determination test done and abort if it is a girl.”

Yes. We start fighting for our lives even before life seeps into us.

In spite of all of this, I’m born. Alas!

For some reason I am not buried yet.

No one distributes sweets, throws a party or shows any happiness as they did when my brother was born. Instead you can hear them cry or curse me and my mother.

Every single minute from here on I keep getting unsolicited discourses. Mandates on what to wear, what not to wear. I’m told to keep my mouth shut under all circumstances regardless of whether I’m right or wrong. I’m told how I should not let my parents waste money on my education or personal development. After all the ultimate goal of my life is serving the husband and in-laws, handling the kitchen, the laundry and the kids.

Nobody is bothered about what I want from my life.

My brother gets freshly baked breads while my grandmother chooses to serve me with stale food. Even our cow gets better food than me. Of course, she gets them milk, dung and what not. The brother gets full-cream milk twice or thrice a day. I’m told that I should maintain my figure which alone might help get a low dowry demand from the groom. If God forbid I happen to be dusky or dark-complexioned, my life will be hell all along. You know it’s always Tall, Dark and HandsomeNever Short, Dark and Beautiful

I’m the second girl child in my family. My parents decide to admit me to a government school when they can easily afford to put me in the same private school that my elder sister goes to. And sometimes they also decide to not admit me to any school at all. All this because it was my fault that I was born as a daughter when they were expecting a son.

An eve-teaser chases me and I am forced to withdraw from attending coaching classes.

With great efforts I manage to crack competitive exams like IIT-JEE and CAT. With a lot of persuasion and assurance that the money spent on my education will be a good investment and my parents can expect good returns for the investments they have made on me so far, I get admitted into one of the premier engineering or management institutes. First day at the college and the professor tells me in as many words, “Girls getting into IIT (or IIM) is an utter wastage of seats. They get married, have children and leave jobs.

Fighting against all these odds, I crack the interview at world’s biggest IT company. I have completed a full year at work and produced remarkable results. This is what the CEO utters: “Women should trust “karma” instead of asking for pay raises.

I’m in the family way and I eagerly share the news with my manager. With twisted eyebrows he screams, “How could you do it? We have our Annual Sales Meeting around your due date.

I join back after my maternity leave and my manager hands me the pink slip. His argument that you’ll not be as dedicated as you’ve been so far.

My first appraisal after a year of motherhood. I’m not given any increment because I took my allotted leaves to take care of my child who was unwell.

The neighbour expired untimely. His wife was  forced to wear white clothes, abstain from attending family functions, watching television, listening to music, eating non-veg. Her brother-in-law lost his wife to an accident. He gets married within thirty days of her death.

And we engage in Kanjak and Durga Pooja. 

And we talk of equality and culture.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

No. This is not the story of every other female in India. But yes some of the situations quoted have been faced by  females in different contexts. Things definitely are improving for good. But the pace is slower than required. Parents have now become more understanding and supportive. Teachers are now more encouraging and helping. In-laws are now more accommodating and supportive. Companies are working towards making arrangements to support working mothers. The steps are being taken forward. But a lot has to be improved by us. A collective effort from all concerned will definitely improve the situation faster. Looking forward to a better place for all of us.

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7 thoughts on “I’m a Girl

  1. What you have said may not be true for all, but that it is true for even some is a travesty. The journey you describe is difficult, and how you described it in this post was touching, Rex. Things like the tone of that first discrimination, an order so strict and straightforward, just like how a hostile relative might say. You did the theme justice.

  2. Any kind of discrimination is wrong, but most of us practise some forms of discrimination. Many men (and, sadly, quite a few women as well) indulge in gender discrimination.
    Many of us (men and women) indulge in discrimination against people belonging to castes ‘lower’ than our own.
    Many of us (men and women) indulge in discrimination against people economically weaker than ourselves.
    Many educated persons (men and women) discriminate against uneducated persons.
    Many English-speaking Indians (men and women) discriminate against those who don’t know English.
    The list can go on and on.
    This is not restricted to India. Discrimination against certain sections of society takes place in almost every country, including the most developed nations.
    Each one of us must resolve to fight against every form of discrimination, irrespective of whether we appear to gain or appear to lose by such discrimination.

  3. A brilliant post reflecting the reality echoed by ugly patriarchy. Why should girls sacrifice every time? It incense me when I see such mentality that seems to get worse every single year.

  4. We talk about India shining.. but our women and children still have a long way to.
    This might not be the story of every house – but its still the story of a lot of houses..

    brilliant post Rekha

  5. Rekha, I am abashed by this post. I live in the USA, and cannot imagine having to live with the discrimination you experience in every aspect of your life. I wish you only the best as you continue to strive for the life you want.

  6. It’s such a sad reality for so many girls in India. I had seen this even in our neighborhood, despite being in a place where most people were decently educated, and yet, there were so many discriminatory practices. So many… I wish people would stop creating goddesses out of women and children and treat them like Humans.

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