Before we packed our bags and left all this behind us in the dust. We had a place that we could call home, and a life no one could touch.
There is a lot of hype and hooplah about an Indian actress putting on an accent and calling her country "regressive" and "hypocritical" and calling the state of its women "depressing". While the papers are full of hate columns, somewhere in the corner is another column detailing the shocking statistics of domestic abuse of women in the country. Apparently we are the country with largest crime rate against women within the "safety of 4 walls of her house". And these are just the official statistics, for every one reported, there are several that go unnoticed. As an educated, independent woman of the 21st century, I have seen both sides of the coin. The life of freedom that a new age Indian woman enjoys and the abuse and ill treatment that Indian women have been facing for centuries. While the economic status of women has changed over the years, I think the condition and position of women has not really changed. Although more and more women today are juggling their personal and professional lives with great elan, they still are victimized by the same problems that their mothers or grandmothers faced. The percentage of women taking active part in the economy might have gone up but the percentage of crime against against women has not decreased.
Even today, the problem of dowry and domestic abuse is no stranger to most women. While in the past, a woman was expected to fulfill the greed of her husbands family using her parents money, today the same greed is expected to be fulfilled by her earnings. As far as the man's family is concerned, she is the source and because traditionally a wife is expected to fulfill the demands of the husband and his family any failure to do so will put her on the guilt trip. In more ways than one a womans salary has become her nemesis. It is practically the new age dowry. She is tactically or violently exploited to meet the greed of her in-laws and she is rather helpless as she has no legal protection from the law. In case she protests, the society sees her as a selfish person with no concern to the well being of her family, a woman with no values of sharing whereas the reality is very different. Unlike in the past where it was her family that had to carry the burden of the son-in-law's greed, now the girl herself has to earn and save up for those EMIs for cars and sites. The boy loses nothing whereas the girl is left behind where she always was - helpless, dependent on the mercy of her husband and his family for her living although she is herself the provider for her family. Just goes to show that merely employment of women does not equal economic freedom for women.
Keeping in mind the changing times, its time we accepted the fact that a woman's salary has become the new age dowry and now is a threat to the very purpose it was supposed to serve - economic independence. Its also time the legal system in India recognized this change and made amends to its laws to protect its bahus from this kind of dahej.