She’s the Institution
of the Society,
Yet she’s bearing the
yoke of anxiety.
She’s a superstar,
because she plays, a girl, a daughter, a reformer and Wife
She’s a Goddess ,
she’s a WOMAN, who brings everything to Life!
The term SHE in English language primarily refers to a female, but it most imperatively defines a WOMAN. The very meaning of the word ‘Woman’ has evolved since the ancient times to the medieval period till today. Anciently women were supposedly ordained to be of service to their husbands. The opening verses of the ‘Apastamba sutra’ depicts:
“mukhyo dharmah
smrtiShu vihito bhartrshushrushanam hi”

Meaning, the woman has to serve her husband. Hence in that era, woman was bound to be dictated upon by her man. Eventually the medieval period is sadly called the ‘dark age’ for women from where there was a grave decline in their status. A woman was made to die in the funeral pyre of her dead husband, which was called the practice of ‘Sati’. Jauhar which was a
mass suicide was forced upon women and then child marriage ruined the very identity of a girl even before she could physically attain the mind and intellect of a woman. Stern restrictions on widow remarriage and Purdah System, leading to hesitation in educating a girl child had made the society decay the very essence and spirit of womanhood. The modern day woman of the 21st Century has although enchanted the whole world with her intelligence, unmatchable valiant efforts with the revolutions she has brought into the society, but to a very negligible extent.
The life of a woman today in India is a Paradox. As soon as she reaches at the peak of her ladder of success, she is brutally pulled back down for some strange and inhuman reasons, either by her own family or by the so-called rituals and traditions of the Indian cultural society. Here the Indian culture which has been enforced upon by the society has served as the main obstacle in the upliftment of a woman.

Today when we dig deep into the loop and pot holes of the problems of a woman’s life, we’ll find many decayed and non germinated seeds of her personal life which are immensely essential for a female. Today a female is astoundingly deprived of her basic needs and amenities she inevitably requires. We boast of various policies and governmental schemes, which are working for making a woman’s life better, but it is indeed a shame and sorry state when we have a look at the present status of the lives of the quintessential Indian woman.

In a so called developing country like India till today 90 percent of the women do not deliver their babies in hospitals. The infertility rate amongst married women in India is 40 percent. While a new disease namely PCOD (Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease) has enveloped about 33 percent of Indian females both married and unmarried, which in some cases restricts normal conceiving of babies and eventually leads to infertility in a few cases. Infertility has become the very ground of societal myths and disbeliefs in India where people are yet unnerved by the fact that diseases like PCOD and cases of Infertility are scientific problems and not mythological superstitions.

In every house in the modern India, be it an uneducated family or an urban highly educated and financially stable one, if cases of infertility have been brought into light, they have been lead to brutal and astonishingly unnatural endings. Women have been cursed for being infertile and questioned, physically tortured, examined without their consent to check their fertility and “baby producing power” as the society feels that, a woman is ultimately a source or a machine for producing off springs and carrying forward generations. The uneducated families have either burnt the infertile woman to death or remarried their sons to get their ‘Heir’. She’s called names and cursed till she loses all interests and colors to live life.

Coming onto diseases like PCOD, the very symptom of this disease is Depression, the primary one being irregular menstrual cycles, which again gives scope for infertility and problems in conception of babies.

33 percent of Indian women are suffering from this disease today, which includes teenagers too. Those married women who are diagnosed with this disease are facing brutal and inhumane behavior even from their husbands, because the in-laws and the husband himself feel that the woman hid it from them that she would face problems in conceiving. People are filing divorce cases for such immature and unscientific attitude. And for the unmarried girls who suffer from PCOD, our so called society does not let them live. The patient already suffering from the fact that she is not menstruating on time, gaining weight, surviving depression is attacked by a line of arrows which cruelly remind her that she is no more marriage material, no man will marry a girl who has less or no chances of getting pregnant, because after all a woman is supposed to extend a family by producing babies from her body (factory). And for such strange reasons the patients have to undergo severe hormonal treatments which have absurd side-effects and torture the patient, only because their parents believe that having regular periods would tell the society that merely having periods gives a green signal to have healthy babies, which scientifically is not true.

Scientifically, those suffering from PCOD have less chances of conceiving as compared to the normal women, but only on the basis of regular menstrual cycle we cannot declare a woman fertile. And forcing and torturing patients to take heavy drugs and teenagers to swallow contraceptives is brutal and inhuman. Taking regular treatment can help a girl have regular cycles but it does not cure the disease, because PCOD has no particular cure. It can be maintained, and channelized but cannot be cured permanently. Taking its treatment only for the sake of announcing and advertising in the society that “our daughter can conceive” is like, a man filling a tank which does not receive municipal water supply, with three buckets of water every day before the municipality switches on the water supply, and satisfying the household that water is available in order to satisfy his wife. But ultimately the water didn’t come from the municipality. Similar is the case with PCOD.

Switching over from PCOD to fertile women in India today, the most threatening and alarming fact is that 70 percent of the menstruating Indian women cannot afford to buy and access sanitary napkins and only 12 percent can afford it and are using it. The remaining who have access, do not use it are indeed in a pitiable state. 88 percent use un-sanitized cloth and husk sand. This bitter and overwhelming fact has triggered the very roots and being of the society. Such women are prone to cervical cancer, RTI (Reproductive Tract Infection) and many other alarming diseases. Such diseases resulting from the un-affordability of sanitary napkins, have led to increase in the dropout rate of girls studying in government schools. 23 percent of girls in India drop out of school after menstruating due to lack of proper amenities. If we cannot protect the very source or origin of life how can we dream of our future generations to even be born, surviving is much farther concept. Such is the plight of the Indian woman, who was once addressed as Goddess Lakshmi, Sita, Annapurna!

Surprisingly, man has found ways to even destruct and kill the goddess today, in the name of female infanticide where people misuse the natural ways of the universe and predetermine the sex of the unborn baby, who if unfortunately turns out to be a girl, is cut and thrashed to pieces and thrown into municipality dustbins. What was unexpected of the human breed has now
become a ferocious reality. We kill goddess lakshmi now for she needs money and property, legally and by constitutional means. There are 933 females per thousand males today in India, which is much below the world average of 990 females per thousand males.

If a woman was to be judged on the grounds of her physicality, then both scientifically and traditionally she has proved to be the most beautiful and delicate creature on earth and she is definitely stronger in will and power when compared to a man. Her beauty lies in the fact that she balances logic and emotions in her actions which men can’t. Does the society check the fertility of a man when he’s getting married or in his teenage? No, this can’t be possible, because our society doesn’t permit to do so, neither does it feel like testing a man’s potency! All men are not born potent. Men are never tortured to death or made to practice Sati when their wives die or when they are proved impotent. They are never asked to give a greed satisfying amount of money called Dowry when they wed. Does the society put a check on those 8 percent infertile men in India? I bet majority of us never bothered to check this percentage of infertile men.

Today what we readily need is sabotaging cultural and societal myths and overpowering the society on scientific and practical basis with the help of the government and strict constitutional amendments as well as legal actions. The already existing laws need to be put into practicality rather than just lying as printed words which accentuate the beauty of the lengthiest constitution in the world. May it be infertility, or PCOD, or any other disease, everything has a solution and ways and means to control the situation with sane and sound mind, And not by religious superstitions, cultural myths, and depleting societal thinking.

“ Yatra Naryastu Pujyante, Ramante, Tatra Devta”

Is an old but truly quoted text which means, wherever womanhood shall be celebrated and women will be worshipped, the Lord our God shall Live there, his pious existence shall instill happiness all around. If India boasts of such Vedic beliefs, and we still follow our traditions, we definitely need to put this into practice again and revive the spirit and tranquility of womanhood. We need to come over such disbeliefs and societal taboos to give a new status to women and improvise their personal existence, supplying them with all the basic needs they require to lead a healthy life. For the actual improvisation in a woman’s life, the whole women’s society needs to team up and fight every obstacle that they come across which hinders their progress and well being.

The desire of Indian women can be best summed up in the following lines of ‘Song of an African Women’:

“I have only one request.
I do not ask for money
Although I have need of it,
I do not ask for meat . . .
I have only one request,
And all I ask is
That you remove
The road block
From my path.”

Shefali Saxena