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An Independence Day For Women

14/08/2015 8:16 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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INDRANIL MUKHERJEE via Getty Images
An Indian woman selling miniature Indian tricolour flags waits for customers at the corner of a busy crossroad in Mumbai on August 11, 2015. India celebrates its anniversary of independence from Britain on August 15 with great pomp and show with a patriotic fervour gripping the nation. The Indian tricolour is hoisted with great pride atop prominent buildings and homes as a mark of respect to all those who laid down their lives to make India an independent nation. AFP PHOTO / INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

I am one of those fortunate few who was born to loving and educated parents who did not find it a burden to raise two daughters when everybody around them was hoping they would plan another pregnancy to beget a male child; who sent their girls for higher education and made them engineers; who let their daughters choose their life-partners irrespective of religion or community; who taught them to stand up against any injustice; who did not believe in paying dowry for ensuring their daughters safety and respect...

But the majority of women in India may as well be living in a past century. Honour-killings still happen, female foeticide still snuffs innocent lives, education is still denied, a wife's consent to sex is still disregarded, courts refuse to address marital rape as a crime, people in power still blame women for the crimes against them, lawyers defend the actions of rapists.

"Even if I as a parent grant her [my daughter] all liberties, will the so called moral guardians of the society let her be?"

My daughter is growing up in today's world. Soon she will refuse to be chaperoned at all times. She will want to see the world and explore all opportunities before settling down in a career or selecting her partner. Even if I as a parent grant her all liberties, will the so called moral guardians of the society let her be?

After 68 years of Independence, shouldn't women be free of tyrannical rules? What does it really mean for us, the women, on this 69th Independence Day of our country?

I believe true independence would be when all women have freedom from:

Being aborted... when the birth of a girl child is also considered a blessing and brings equal joy to parents... when people stop wishing for birth of their 'heir'... that would be freedom.

Being judged on the basis of clothes they wear... girls in skirts or shorts are not "asking for it". They are not immoral. If men looked a women in the eye, instead of at her chest or legs, when speaking to them ...that would be freedom!

Being attacked or punished for thwarting the advances of a lusting man. Women are not sex toys. When a girl or a woman steps out of her home without the fear of being attacked by acid, being raped or beaten for refusing sex... that would be freedom!

Being killed for falling in love. When caste, religion, language, community are no longer hindrances in choosing a life partner... when no woman is prescribed death for marrying outside community... that will be liberation.

Being banned from religious places for having periods. Puberty is gift from the Gods to women to nurture future life... it is neither their shame, nor punishment and definitely not anything impure.

Being denied higher education. When every little girl can dream to be a teacher, a pilot, doctor, engineer... when people stop assigning the kitchen and the four walls of a house as the only domain of women... when women can opine about financial and other matters at every home... that would bring freedom.

Being punished for dowry. When all that a wedding ceremony brings are blessings and love... when the mother-in-law, being a woman herself, will stand by her daughter-in-law at every step in her new beginnings... when brides won't be burned or forced to commit suicide... that day would be a free day.

When women will not be birds with clipped wings, but kites soaring in sky with gay abandon into the winds of change....that would truly be Independence Day!

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