I find Islam to be liberating not oppressive: women are partners.
What is feminism? Nothing but women’s movement to empower her and to consider her full human being and not mere second sex as ‘Simon de Bouire called her. Thus we see in western countries until early part of twentieth century she did not enjoy an independent status. It was only after thirties of twentieth century that she won equal status legally and various western countries passed the laws to this effect. Yet patriarchy is looming large on her in these countries.
There is institutionalised oppression of women in all cultures. In India Hindu female foetocide numbers approximately two million every year. Hinduism is rife with sexism. Women are classed as objects owned by men. The Muslims from the Sub-continent were converted from Hinduism. They carry even now a lot of Hindu traditions of dishonouring women mostly in isolated ruler areas. In urban areas Muslims are well educated both Islamically and worldly and women have all the rights given by Islam.
Like everyone else, well at least like most of us out there, I am reasonably impressed with Aamir’sSatyameva Jayate. Criticism notwithstanding, the conceptual thrust of the programme, its genuine essence of outreach and its intense intent of pinching the public conscience extends beyond Aamir’s overextended altruism, and his understated charisma. The show may lack pizzazz and spunk – point is – it has what it needs to have – the positive-contagion ripple effect.
It gets people thinking, talking, moving and evidently, scribbling. In my case, I am reminded of a blog on Rani Laxmi Bai that I had written last year. We met another Rani in a recent episode. A woman of strength is a queen in her own right, in any case. The inescapable parallell that it reminded me of is that an ordinary woman (I don’t believe there is any such person – to me womanhood – in all its shades of glory, is extraordinary) shone through the fractured fabric of the show, its dismal context and saddening reality, as a ray of hope and happiness.
Not only did Rani Tripathi display tremendous courage in slamming the menace of dowry, she did so publicly, repeatedly. Some of the questions that she asked, rhetorical though they may have been to anyone with a sense of justice and right reason, captured the tragic senselessness of her situation with sparkling clarity.
She and others like her underscore a similar strain – Why is a woman expected to bring gifts for the bridegroom’s family? Why do the so-called gifts tantamount to the upkeep of the groom’s whole family for life? How can people shamelessly demand cars and cash? Where does the greed end? Why is the deal accentuated closer to the marriage, why are men so shamelessly begging their wives to take care of their avarice? Why is marriage a pulsating field for haggling? When did marriage cease to be a partnership and become a brokership? When did marriage cease to be a relationship and become a deal?
Often, I am asked why I continue to write about dreary social issues, particularly the kind that somehow have a woman at the nucleus. My answer, to myself is that for every Medusa-menace that we face – be it dowry, child marriage, abused children, khap panchayats, corruption, all of which I have almost ‘militantly’ written about again and again – there is a valiant ‘Rani’ that can make the difference. If not, there needs to be one!
Issues, all of them, need to have a woman as the nucleus. For, if the process of metamorphoses, of transformative impact begins with a woman, the end of societal defilement will become a certainty. Our fundamental strength, as showcased by Rani Tripathi, shouldn’t be up for sale, shouldn’t be up for grabs, shouldn’t be negotiable!
For me, that would be, ‘Satyameva Jayate’.
DOWRY IN ISLAM?!PERGERAKAN BELlA INDIAMUSLIM MALAYSIA (GEPIMA)* MOHD BIN KATHER ALl012-3136250 / 03-40417445Dowry torture taint MOHD BIN KATHER ALl (GEPIMA)24-year old SITI NAZRIN had filed a complaint against her in-law
Who cares if it is smartly packaged too. The ad spot booking rates are stupendous and the producers make a neat packet, but I really don’t care. Even for a fleeting moment on a lazy Sunday afternoon we grow a small conscience, so be it.
We are a callous lot, who have reconciled to our muddled systems. Hence, we need to be reminded about the ills around.
I’m all for rabble rousing and breast beating for a cause irrespective of the intent and purpose of the crier, as long as the issue is near and dear to me and is the by-product of a cunning regime. Corruption, female infanticide, rape and harassment, child molestation, faulty business practices-all these affect me and I’m happy to stand in line to support anyone who raises them be it a million dollar man or a dhoti clad dehati.
Are you listening to your partner? Do you expect too much? Or, are you allowing hurtful behaviour? Follow this seven-point criteria for a happy marriage!
Perfect is too conclusive a word, pompous with a degree of finality that’s unexciting. So, let’s not ask anyone if they have a perfect marriage; perfection is not possible.
If you have a ‘good marriage,’ that is good enough. So, do you?
If you have never wondered about this, chances are you are as close to perfection as can be. For, you have accepted your spouse as an unquestionable part of your life, and that is more than half the battle won. However, if you worry often about the state of your relationship, you have acceptance issues. The reasons could be to do with your spouse, your own attitude, or with the chemistry between you two. Here are some tips that will help you cruise along smoothly.
Communication is critical
Talk to each other about your feelings, problems, thoughts, dreams and your present and future together. Discuss how you would like to deal with various issues and promote your togetherness. Listening is as important as talking. You don’t communicate with just words, but even through silence, gestures, touch, thoughtfulness, respect and attention to your partner. If at all there must be silences between you, let these be companionable rather than moody and sulky ones.
Don’t hang all expectations on one peg
Expectations can be a heavy cross to bear. Also, when you expect irrationally, you are bound to have major disappointments. Gauge rationally what you can expect from your partner and fulfill the rest of your needs from other aspects of life. Give your partner breathing space and learn to respect his/her differences.
Don’t avoid confrontations
Some arguments are good for a healthy marriage and making up later is always wonderful. Do not push issues under the carpet; air them out once in a while. When confronted by your partner, do not stonewall or react temperamentally. Rather, listen carefully and engage in a rational discussion, allowing space for talking as well as listening, and for compromise. Do not be abusive or physically violent, nor accept this from your partner.
Challenge hurtful behaviour
Very often we are too embarrassed or shocked to protest against behaviour that hurts or humiliates us. Most women in an abusive marriage confess they never protested, because they felt ashamed. Do not make that mistake. Refuse to be trampled upon or taken for granted. Be clear about your own needs, feelings and the things you will not accept in the relationship.
Make time for each other
Love grows with moments of togetherness and shared memories. Remember the warmth that courses through you when you talk about shared happy times with each other? Go out on dates and trips together. Carve out ‘together’ time within your home. Ensure that you do not use this time to air grievances; treat it as sacrosanct.
Learn to trust and respect
Do you nag? Are you overtly suspicious? These are sure ways to create problems in a marriage where there may be none. Be alert and intelligent, but do not swing your sword Don Quixote style, where there is no problem. A good way is to start out with trust and faith in your heart, unless you are faced with irrefutable evidence to the contrary.
Follow your dreams and create your own space
Your own happiness and contentment is one of the most critical ingredients of a happy marriage. Do not put your goals on the backburner. Take them with you as you go along. If you ignore your own ambitions, you will end up frustrated and vent your feelings on those around.
Marriage, like any other relationship, needs consistent attention. Draw your lines and lay down the rules, and then have a fun and secure relationship within your comfort zone.Being Sita is not being docile and obedient; it is to be a woman of fortitude and courage
At a time when television projects regressive images of veiled, uneducated bahus pandering to every husbandly whim, the Bombay high court observation coaxing Indian women to be like Sita, need not have surprised us.
Sure, Indian women should be like Sita —- though certainly not in the way the judges meant it! I would go so far as to say that if Indian women were like Sita, they would probably be better off than the helpless, unambitious, trodden-upon specimens of womanhood that TV churns out every day. After all, Sita was a woman with incredible fortitude and strength of character — a woman who could wield Shiva’s bow, persuade her husband Ram to take her along into exile, defy Ravana while in his captivity, and eventually reject Ram, preferring to leave the world rather than live with him after a second call to prove her innocence.
The division bench may have meant to teach a lesson in subjugation to Indian women with their much-debated observation that wives should be “like Sita who left everything and followed her husband Lord Ram to a forest and stayed there for 14 years.” But in the ultimate analysis, it all depends on how one looks at Sita — subservient and loyal, or strong and willful? Did she follow Ram as a docile creature because she had to, or as an independentspirited young wife who wanted to? How did the learned judges fall prey to common stereotypes and clichés that assume Sita was nothing more than a hapless, weak woman?
As most who have read the Ramayana well, see it, Sita was very much her own woman all through her extraordinary trials and tribulations. She retained her dignity, her independent thinking and her iron will all through exile, captivity, banishment, single motherhood and then the final, most telling of them all — her defiant, furious, unforgiving, yet quiet rejection of that epitome of ideal manhood, Maryada Purushottam Ram.
But not every woman can be Sita; nor should she be. Extraordinary circumstances alone can make an epic heroine out of an ordinary woman. It is unfair to expect today’s woman to be Sita, or for that matter, Draupadi, Kunti, or even Maharani of Jhansi, Noor Jehan, Ahilyabai Holkar or Sarojini Naidu. Why should a woman be like anyone else? Why fall prey to stereotypes and live life trying to emulate someone with completely different compulsions and circumstances?
Instead, she should try and be true to her own self, to her motivations, her dreams, her compulsions and circumstances. A sacrificial, docile woman who is forced to follow her husband wherever he gets posted, as the Bombay high court ordered, is as anachronistic today as would be a cry to Mother Earth to open up to prove her fidelity.
It is almost as anachronistic as the bahus who decorate our television screens with meaningless glitter portraying distorted, single-dimensional stereotypes from our epics and mythology — play-acting to a deep-rooted patriarchal mindset on television.
The TV bahu refuses to cross her Lakshman rekha, forgetting that Sita did cross the original one. She obeys her husband and makes no demands, forgetting Sita managed to make Ram do her bidding — she forcibly went to exile with him, insisted he go after the golden deer and ordered Lakshman to go after him when she heard his cries! The TV bahu tolerates all unfairness and forgives her husband any misdemeanor, forgetting that Sita walked out of Ram’s life without a word when he asked for a second public test.
So much for playing Sita in tele-life. Indian women need not follow any one role model, but can pick and choose certain characteristics from the myriad role models that our mythology, epics and history give us…no one role model would suit the multi-faceted Indian woman today.
The learned judges would do well to realise that an Indian woman cannot be just a Sita! She has in her a bit of Sita, a bit of Parvati, a little bit of Laxmi on the side, a bit of Saraswati… and yes, a bit of Kunti and Draupadi, too, to make the delectable concoction she is today.