It is strange to see how we face testing time in life due to gender bias. It is there right in front of us, right from our workplace to our personal space. The major influencing factor being hundred per cent tolerance – a quality the women have always been admired for. I have seen the previous generation of women, who followed all the traditions and rituals, trying to please others. They did gain a peaceful life but at the cost of their own dreams.
So what is the punch line for our generation? Women have to be 100% tolerant and always have to be at the receiving end. They should never protest and always have to endure the pain in silence. I would like to share a not so pleasing story and definitely would like to know, if anyone can relate to such a similar experience.
Being born in an affluent family, I always had high dreams. I never faced a situation where my family outcast a girl. In my family, men and women were always treated equally. They shared all the household responsibilities and financial decisions. I got enough space as a child when it came to decision-making and the necessity to express my own thoughts.
Being a doctor by profession, soon after completing my education, like any other independent woman I too had a notion that life was going to be very easy. My parents, like any other typical Indian parents, decided to get me married. They were very much convinced about Athish being the right choice. With the mutual consent of both the families, I met Athish. And yes, we got along well.
All were good after marriage. Athish had a modern outlook towards life, and always supported for all the progressive ideas. His family too was very supportive and treated me very well.
But the fairy tale did not last long. It was during one of the visits from his relatives, I came to know the fake image they were portraying in front of me and my family.
It is very important to understand that when two individuals start to live together, they should be given enough space to decide on how to live. However, it is weird to see people interfering in others lives, ruining the peace and purpose.
After three years of marriage, we always had to testify and reply to all the filthy remarks made by my husband’s family members for deciding to not have a child. I always wondered what made them worry so much. Initially, I thought, they were genuinely concerned. But later, I realized that every talk was well planned by their family. And they made sure to put this topic for discussion in public so that they could make us feel humiliated for not having a child. Someone once even suggested me to try Ayurvedic medicines (a form of alternative medicine, popular in India), which was very suggestive that I had some medical issues or infertility.
Worst was the case wherein I received a text message written by my father-in-law who was circulating it around, within the family “ Kindly do not follow her (mine) footsteps, as she is a barren lady who cannot bear children.”
I was not sure if these words were to be taken seriously, but it did break me as a woman. It’s a shame that even today, there is a certain category of humans, who consider a woman’s respect lies in her womb and not in her.
Can you imagine, if the same concept is applied to a man? I think it’s worth giving a thought.
I was going through emotional turbulence, not because I didn’t have a child, but because of the way, my private life has been showcased as if someone had a hold on it. I also got to know through a person from their family about a story of my abortion, which I never had.
After experiencing so much trauma and humiliation, I decided to end this relationship and take legal action against my husband’s family. However, my husband was never a part of this. He being a person with a very timid nature, has never encouraged or actively been a part of such corrupt ideas. To be frank, it did take some time for me to realize that he was not a part of this scam. I am grateful to my own family, who have stood by me and supported me through this phase of life.
Eventually, we took a very hard decision of not keeping any contact with my husband’s parents. And they too have disowned their own son now – for being different from their generation, and for “not producing babies” soon after marriage. It is said – “Sometimes people come into your life just to teach you how to let go.” And I had to let them go, for my own good.
Sadly, they do not have the slightest grin of their lost character. In this 21 st Century, we still have such people around who nurture such regressive thoughts, which is something that I wonder about.
This is a kind of story that many of you would have heard, or experienced but preferred to ignore or endured silently. This is sad. Somewhere each one of us is responsible for tolerating such inhuman behaviour silently.
While I was depressed with the whole thought and it took a lot of time for me to overcome this ordeal. I met many women who had similar tale to narrate on how they were treated unfairly. But, why don’t these ever come out ! And why they haven’t taken any stand! Or why don’t they even take a stand for another women!
Being an Indian woman, disowning or completely cutting all the connections off with husband’s family was really very difficult, but not impossible. I too have to deal with a lot of social pressure, cultural and traditional dilemma and blames. It is not easy! At times, I feel depressed and suffer alone.
BUT, I stand strong as an Independent woman, who thinks her self-respect is the most important to her. I do not have to be nice to someone, who was trying to tarnish my image, behind my back. And most importantly, as appropriately said by the great philosopher Seneca – “What you think of yourself is much more important than what people think of you.”
This is my journey and it continues….
From what I understand, this is the kind of social behaviour which were accepted by all for generations, particularly by women. This is a wake-up call to all the women who receive this kind of disgusting attitude from anybody – By not standing up or speaking up for yourself, you are setting a wrong example to the coming generations. Women need to adjust, forgive and accept – this is a very common expectation in Indian society.
Is it not time to change this ?!
** This story is written by an Indian lady who preferred to remain anonymous.
[The context of this narrative lies in a deeply implanted gender discrimination in Indian society. Infertility in women is considered a stigma. ONLY women are held responsible for not having children ( many elderly people don’t even believe that there is something called male infertility). Women are often tortured, humiliated and stigmatized for not being able to bear children. At the end of the day, it is the decision to the couple whether to have a child or no. Nowadays, many even want to opt not to have a child – but pressurized by society, couples do not have their own choice. ]