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Gender Disperity: Indian Domestic Setting

Autor:   •  March 13, 2018  •  4,180 Words (17 Pages)  •  25 Views

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Coming to evolution, we all are aware of the fact that India has always been a patriarchal society where men has been considered the most knowledgeable and powerful member of the society. He has always dominated the society be it the ancient, medieval or modern period. There are traces in ancient religious books which prove that women enjoyed a good status in the society but it all changed with the coming of the medieval period which is also considered the dark period for women. Sati system was strictly practiced during the medieval period where a woman was forced to burn alive along with the corpse of her husband as her objective of living was considered to have ended.

The status of women has improved with time and their rights have been recognized to an extent by the Indian society. More emphasis is now laid on women education, healthcare, dowry prohibition, protection against violence and harassment etc. But all this is completely provided only in theory and not in practice. It is true that laws have been made to safeguard women but they have not been implemented properly throughout the nation. The domestic violence cases registered are still at an alarming range; they are raped, tortured, harassed, and are considered nothing more than a man’s toy in many backward areas. Women are still not given the respect they deserve in this society.

This study is an attempt to look briefly into these problems hindering the development of women in the Indian society. It is a step to assess whether women in India are having same status and rights as we are claiming in various areas like: equality, political empowerment, educational attainment, employment, marriage and family life, Race and gender, Religion and culture& health and well-being and explores the constraints linked to each. If proper steps are taken to implement the laws made for women, a lot can be done for giving them an honorable life.


In ancient India, though patriarchal system was highly prevalent, all male domination, women enjoyed a position of respect and reverence. Several inscriptions make references to the status of women in that they enjoyed the freedom to make liberal gifts to religious institutions like temples, dharmasalas not merely for the welfare of heads of the families but for their parents as well. Women held very important position in ancient Indian society. In the Vedic society women participated in religious ceremonies and tribal assemblies. There is no seclusion of women from domestic and social affairs but they were dependent on their male relatives throughout their lives. The system of Sati existed among the Aryans in the earlier period. The hymns of the Rig-Veda, the Atharva Veda show that it was still customary for the widow to lay symbolically by the side of her husband’s corpse on the funeral, forced child marriages were unknown. In the Vedic period, women lost their political rights of attending assemblies. Child marriages also came into existence. According to the Aitareya Brahmana, the Brahmana of the Shakala shakha of the Rigveda, a daughter has been described as a source of misery. Atharva Veda also deplores the birth of daughters. During this period, we see the growing tendency to stratify the Indian society along gender lines. The position of women gradually deteriorated as the Vedic ideals of unity and equality began to fade off through the passage of time. During the period of Smritis, women were bracketed with the Sudras and were denied the right to study the Vedas, to utter Vedic mantras and to perform Vedic rites. Marriage or domestic life became compulsory for women and unquestioning devotion to husband is their only duty Thus the position of women though inferior was not as bad as it came to be in the later ages.

Towards the end of Vedic period (Post Vedic period) women were deprived of social and religious rights. There were not allowed to participate in social and religious functions. Gradually the position of women fell down to the extent that the birth of a girl was regarded as a curse in the family. During Buddhist period Lord Buddha regarded women a source of all evils. Therefore women were allowed low status compared to males.

The status of women deteriorated in the medieval period. Medieval India faced many foreign conquests, especially Muslims, which influenced, not positively, the status of women in India. The women faced many social evils such as purdah system, female infanticide, child marriage, sati and slavery which drastically affected the position of women. The birth of a girl child was considered as a curse and women were further confined to the doors of their homes as they were taken as a burden or a liability to be secured from the eyes of the society. She not only continued to hold low status in the society rather her condition worsened in this period.

Some substantial developments eventually took place as the time passed during the British rule of 200 years in India. Many a prominent leader took the cognizance of the miserable condition the Indian women were living in. Purdah, sati, female infanticide, inheritance, widow remarriage and the lack of women’s rights in different fields were the major issues that fetched the attention of the British. Prominent social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Rai, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Dayanand Saraswati, Keshab Chandra Sen, Swami Vivekanand, Maharashi Karve, Justice Ranade, Mahatma Gandhi and others provided the incentive to them for such measures. Significant legislations relating to the problems faced by the Indian women were Abolition of Sati Act, 1813, The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act, 1856, Civil Marriage Act, 1872, Married Women’s Property Act, 1874, The Child Marriage Restraint Act (Sharda Act), 1929, Hindu Law of Inheritance Act, 1929, Hindu Women’s Rights to Property Act, 1939, Hindu Marriage Disabilities Removal Act, 1946. Not to deny, these legislation have been effective in helping women. Sati has been abolished; child marriage reduced to a good extent, increase in the literacy rate of women, decreased cases of female infanticide, more empowerment to women and many more has been achieved since then. But is it all? Are we doing enough to achieve the expected? The clear answer is a big NO. Women still has a lot to struggle because it has been evident that that there still are cases of inequality.


The Gandhian era and the decades after independence have witnessed tremendous changes in the status of women in Indian society. The constitution has laid down as a fundamental right the equality of all sexes. But the change from a position of utter degradation and subjugation of women in the nineteenth century to a position of


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