Not too long ago, we went on a trip to Velankanni. The trip was great, but the weather was horrible, and it rained for 2 days out of 3. Post our trip we were invited to a village not far from Nagapattinam. The locals were very hospitable and welcomed us heartily. On the whole, we were treated with extreme love and care.
Amidst all the love, there was still a feeling of withdrawal. You may wonder, what could be wrong and what more could a person want? There were mostly only men who were moving around freely. Where are all the women? I wondered. They were sitting in a room, hesitating to even be seen by other men. Well, that seemed strange.
Among city dwellers it surely is strange. But it seemed like the norm over there. I found out that girls are made to discontinue their education, get married at a tender age and begin their household. During our younger days in school, this was something that we had studied about, but now looking at it really happen was unbelievable. Girls younger than me were expected to be married and have children, take care of the husband and his entire family. In villages there are only joint families, so you can image how many people this girl is expected to take care of.
Also, in the remote areas where we visited, women were made to cover their heads and not be seen by the men. I know, right! We think it is an ancient custom, but I was shocked to see it pretty much in front of my eyes. This was the narrative of what we witnessed.
Women, on the whole, are still in the very same state as at the beginning of civilization. The opportunities are not equal for all. We may not be going through exactly what the women in villages experience, but still are victims to inequality outside in various other aspects. It causes a lot of pain. We teach children in schools that equality is something that is not based on gender, but is it true?
Are we still teaching something that we do not practice?
I think it is high time we get women and children educated, so they understand what is important. I do not want to blame or question anyone. So, I leave it to you to decide.
By Rachel Antony