Independence Day: Are women free to live in independent India?

Under the circumstances we live today, where women aren’t free to make their own choices or live independently in peace, can India be called an independent country?

Independence Day: Are women free to live in independent India?

India is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic. If you’re born in India, it is hard to not remember reading this in your civic text books. However, these adjectives remain lost in the textbooks and somewhere in the back of our minds, only to emerge out of the closets in saffron, white and green attires on Republic and Independence Day. For the rest of the days, such meaningful words, for the country, take a back seat.

But we’ve talked enough about democracy and independence of the citizens in the truest senses.  I wouldn’t even say that 'women and their independence' is a less talked about subject, but it is certainly one which needs to be addressed actively.

There are many who, despite living in an ‘independent country’, face issues every day pertaining to the very basic choices in life like following their dreams, getting married and even regarding what they should wear. With such freedom issues, are women in our country really independent?

The anti-feminists would argue saying ‘What else do women really want? They are living independently, working in key positions, earning and thriving on their own, and even have their separate quota. Like, what more could women really desire?’ But that’s just a superficial picture, my friend. Why would any and every woman disagree with you otherwise? I am sure that not all can be that bad!

Being born a woman in India is an every day Independence struggle; even if you get it easy, you have gender battles to fight every single day, irrespective of where you live, what you do and your financial status.

Yes, women in the rural areas have major problems to deal with. Some even find it difficult to keep up with their existence, fighting female infanticide in a patriarchal world aiming to breed just men. Some women even face difficulties trying to take basic decisions about their every day lives, leave alone education and careers. These may include whether to dine before the men in the family, whether the clothes she selects to wear are appropriate for the men around, whether to give your family a priority or your in-laws, whether to head out of their homes at a certain hour just because the streets are unsafe, and the list goes on.

The situation just gets more complex as we think about education and working women.

But the story doesn’t end here. Many urban women, who seem to have had it 'easy' have gone a long way to become independent and self-sufficient. Many, who luckily got the education, have been forced to take up a field where they can lead a normal family life in the long run. Hence, aspirations and dreams are limited for women. Those who do by chance make it to the top have fingers pointing at their independence. Let alone career path, is there a safe independent space for an independent woman in an independent country? Well, there isn’t much to be said about safety here.

Bachelors, especially women, find it extremely difficult to rent a flat because; first, she is a bachelor; second, there are safety issues which the landlords shy away from. Is that how we’re supporting independence for women?

While growing up, every woman has been invariably lectured about male chauvinism and has often observed or taught that women should always be less successful than their spouse, careful not prick the giant male ego. Moreover, women who are single or divorced, are looked at differently from others after a certain age. Their independence pinches some in the eyes.

If under such circumstances, where women aren’t free to make their own choices or live independently in peace, can India be called an independent country? I wouldn’t be much in favour of the statement when I look at this side of the story. 

Note: This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. Mumbai Live neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.