Two unrelated articles coming out of India made for interesting reading. In one article, for the first time, a doctor was convicted and jailed for helping identify the female foetus carried in a pregnant woman (unlawful in India) and offering to get rid of it.
The other article was about a recent discovery of a woman who was locked away for two decades by her own husband for fear of losing her.
Both these practices are not an anomaly but part and parcel of daily life in India.
India has always been a male dominated society with the woman rarely reaching a state of equality.
Most of these practices can be traced back to the Manusmriti translated as “Laws of Manu”. Manu, one of the progenitors and founders of Hindu Society and Law codified a series of laws describing the role of castes, society and people in day to day life.
Nothing much seems to have changed in how it is followed over the centuries.
Manu says the following about women
“Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth and her sons protect her in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.”
This fit in well with the past and current male dominated Indian society, leading to the skewed sex ration where thousands of female foetuses are killed off every year.
A female child is seen as a burden on a parent, especially during marriages where it is the duty of the parent to marry off the girl child with huge sums of dowry.
After marriage, since a husband is supposed to be the protector of women, most women are illtreated (also giving rise to the practice of sati)
Unless Indian society and women start speaking against atrocities committed against women, such incidences will continue to be part of Indian life