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The Emancipation of Women

The emancipation of women, i.e.their liberation from religious, legal, economic, and sexual oppression, their access to higher education, and their escape from narrow gender roles is not easily achieved.

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The struggle for sexual equality has a long history and is likely to continue for some time. Even if it should soon be won in the industrial nations, it may well rage on in many “underdeveloped” countries. In traditionally patriarchal societies any improvement in the status of women has far-reaching consequences and produces fundamental political changes.

Therefore it is always resisted by the established powers. However, it seems certain that they will ultimately have to relent, because the emancipation of women is both necessary and desirable. It will provide for a greater degree of social justice and thus benefit everyone. Indeed, from the beginning, the great “feminists” or champions of women’s rights have always insisted that they worked in the interest of the whole human race.

The feminist movement therefore has always been a humanist movement.Some of its representatives were reformers, others revolutionaries, but virtually all of them worked for a better, more equitable, and more humane world. Much can be learned from their experiences. They often suffered ridicule, persecution, and defeat, but also won admiration, support, and victory. Gradually, they achieved many of their goals. Their opponents, on the other hand, learned that a just cause cannot be suppressed forever. Where needed reforms are consistently blocked, revolution becomes inevitable.In India, we have anti-dowry laws, and we have laws to punish assault on women.

Some of these laws are very stringent. So much so that if a lady wishes to misuse these laws (and I am sure that there are quite a few cases of such misuse happening), the affected parties will be in serious trouble for some time at least. However, I believe that society has accepted harassment of women in households to such an extent that stringent laws will provide affected women with a way to get some relief.If you read some of the horror stories that are inflicted on women in their marital households, these stories will make your skin crawl and you will not be able to believe as to how ‘normal’ people can sink to these levels of barbarity.

Just one link to portray the extent of domestic violence as a statistic. The reader can do a bit of Goggling and find numerous examples (especially if one does not want to believe the previous The measure which made this particularly horrible was that cases of adultery / pre-marital sex (deemed a crime) needed less stringent proof.So one has the gruesome spectacle of a victim reporting a rape, unable to get the 4 male witnesses, then being accused of adultery and being convicted of that.

One would expect that this would lead to a reduction in the reporting of rapes, and there seem to be a number of cases where something like this happened. In addition, we have other cases of biases against women being depicted in incidents such as honour killings, forced marriages, marriages at small ages, low education levels, and other such tendencies that a strongly patriarchal system imposes.Now, with the changes in the Hudood Ordinance having been passed by one house of parliament, there is a stronger chance that at least some of the biases can be reduced.

I would think that this is a long process, and there will be numerous times when religion will be used to justify these biases. As to the argument that such acts destroy marriages, I believe that in this era of publicity to women achievers, to TV serials/movies showing successful and talented females, it is going to be more difficult to keep a lady quiet in a stressful marriage.Earlier, it used to be easier as there was much more pressure on the lady to keep the marriage going, if necessary to accept punishment and harassment.

That is going to be less and less likely. Now with women working more and having the ability to take care of themselves, I predict that unless the Indian male gives up some of his heavy biases (again, not all males have such biases), we are going to see more marriages collapse.

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