REASSESSING THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN INDIAN SOCIETY:BEYOND THE FOUR WALLS- A CRITICAL ANAYLSIS
Author: Manisha Dodani, III year of B.A.,LL.B from BM Law Collge , Jodhpur, Raj.
In Indian culture, women are referred to as "Devi." As times have evolved, so have women's status and roles. Women were treated with respect and dignity in the ancient world, and there were several women rishis in existence. But as the Vedic era drew to a close, women's status deteriorated, and they lost access to social and religious rights. As a result, they had to rely entirely on their father, husband, or brother. Modern laws regulate women's and women's labour, which encompasses both office work and family duties, and the status of women has evolved. In this article, we'll talk about how women's roles have changed in India over time.
THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN ANCIENT INDIA
Women were accorded the same status as males during the Vedic Period and, for all women, education was regarded as crucial. There were several female rishis there at that time. Although the king appointed girls as his bodyguards, at the time there was no dowry system in place and women had the freedom to choose their partners.
But as the Vedic era came to an end and the Maurya dynasty took control, the standing of women progressively changed, and the first entitlement they lost was the right to learn. The Women of high community had to purdah and sati was accepted system during this time.
During the pre- Vedic period, Women were denied the right to express their opinions in public and were prohibited from leaving the house without a man's consent. Women's sole employment consisted of childrearing, housework, and doing specific tasks for the development of children.
At that time, widowed women had the worst conditions; they had to withdraw from society and were forbidden from participating in any ceremonies since, in the opinion of the community, doing so would prevent them from achieving their goals. They were forbidden from touching anything pure.
The patriarchal system is another factor in the loss of women's status since it forces women to be completely dependent on males, diminishing their roles and forcing them to follow their husbands' or fathers' commands.
Due to the patriarchal system, the birth of a boy was welcomed and treated as a gift by the family because boys were seen as the 'chirag' of the family who would continue the family and the only source of income. In contrast, the birth of a girl was viewed negatively by the family and was viewed as a curse because girls were seen as a burden. Another justification for seeing them as a burden is the dowager system. Even then, a woman had no choice in the matter; she was forced to wed a man with whom he had no prior acquaintance .Women had no right to criticise her father and they were married off at a young age and preferred to learn home tasks over academic subjects.
STATUS OF WOMEN DURING BRITISH ERA
Women had the same position during the British Era, as they did throughout the Vedic era. Only one woman out of 100 could read or write.
Women were deprived from holding the right to property due to which the property which was given by women parents during his marriage came under the control of his husband and she has to depend on his husband.
But during the same period several changes was made in eliminating inequality between men and women in matter of education, age of marriage, sati system , employment and political rights.
Beginning in the British era, education has been recognized as a key tool for improving the status of women. The Christian Missionaries became interested in the education of ladies after the ‘Bhakti movement’. In Bombay, the first girls' school opened its doors in 1824. In 1881, the Hunter commission also emphasized the importance of female education. Up until 1875, girls were not allowed to enroll in the universities of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. Girls were permitted to pursue higher education after 1882.
There were two significant movements throughout the British era that impacted the status of women. These were the nationalist movement of the twentieth century and the social reform movement of the nineteenth century, respectively.
The Sati system, the prohibition on widow remarriage, polygamy, child marriage, the denial of women's property rights, and the denial of education to women were among the topics that social reformers in the nineteenth century focused on. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a key figure in the elimination of the Sati system and Lord William Bentinck initiated steps against sati and it was legally abolished in 1829.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar also spearheaded attempts to improve the position of women; it was because of his work that the Widow Remarriage Act of 1856 was enacted. He also argued for women's rights to education. Maharshi Karve addressed the issues of widow remarriage and women's education.
During this many attempted were made to abolish the equality between men and women and with the help of several legislation the status of women balanced during this period.
THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN MODERN INDIA
According to constitution of India all men and women are equal in acquiring freedom, education, employment, right to participate in social, cultural, religious, educational activities .
Today the women's are well educated and the literacy rate of women education has gradually increased. For instances, women literacy rate in India rose from 0.6% in 1901 to 34.42 %in 1991 and 64.1 % in 2001.
In many towns and cities, educational institutional designed exclusively for female students have been founded, providing women who pursue higher education with a variety of incentives including free ship, scholarships, loan facilities, housing facilities etc.
In view of economic development, women are not bound beyond the four walls , they are working as journalists, politicians, engineers, lawyers, actors and many other professions.
Recently , Droupati Murmu is example that status of tribal women is also improving in society.
Employment has made women economic independent and boost self confidence in them.
Women play many roles in a society, such as a role of sister, wife, officer, daughter and many more roles.
Instead of progressing crime against women occur every minute in India , they are not safe in their own house. To reduce the crime rate of women certain laws are made in favour of women are as follows:
The prohibition of child marriage act, 2006
Special marriage act, 1954
Dowry prohibition act, 1961
Medical termination of pregnancy, 1974
Sexual harassment of women at workplace,2013
National commission for women act,1990
Equal remuraeration act 1976
Domestic violence act 2005
And many more laws are made in protection of women, but still crime is taking place because of fear, family reputation , society etc.
Consequently, as time has changed, the status of women has also changed. However, despite all the advancements, women continue to confront several challenges at home and at work. Working is very different for a married woman because she must attend to both her office and her house, which makes women to leave her job.. She feels unsafe in his own home because there are more crimes against women every day. The government should take greater initiative, and society also contributes significantly to changing how women are viewed in society.
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