by Jayaram V
India is one of the few countries where women enjoy a comparatively
better status than many women in other parts of the world. True Indian women
face many problems and are subject to the same social pressures which women
experience in other parts of the world. But relatively speaking, their situation
is much better than what it used to be in the pre-independence era.
On the positive side women have made rapid strides in every
aspect of modern life. The constitutions guarantees equal opportunity and where
necessary provides necessary safeguards from possible exploitation or injustice.
Indian women of today are not afraid of voicing their opinions or joining forces
with other women in the local community to fight against social maladies and
injustice. They have opportunities to take bold decisions or lead unorthodox
lives, which might have made them vulnerable to social ridicule and family
pressures few decades ago. Undoubtedly, women of today in India enjoy
better status and freedom than women in the past.
On the negative side, Indian women suffer from many
disabilities and social injustices. This is true for all Indian women, to
whatever religion they may belong, except where their status, roles and
responsibilities are directly influenced by religious beliefs such as
marriage and inheritence. Indian women rank high in terms of the number of
prostitutes in the world, girl children neglected, abused or often sold purely
for economic reasons, as victims of AIDS, and women living below the poverty
line or forced to do physical labor even when they are pregnant or sick. And speaking of the sexual attitude of Hindu males...we know they are not much different from their
counterparts in other religions.
It is difficult to generalize the situation of women in India
due to the heterogeneous nature of Indian society. Women belong to different
social and economic strata and what is true in case of one particular category
may not be true in case of others. So much has been happening in Indian society
as of late that, it is difficult to make objective conclusion about the
situation of women in India without inviting an opposite reaction. And this
often gives scope for distortion and misinterpretation of the facts.
The internet itself is a glaring example of such distortions.
There are many websites on the Internet today that present a very pathetic
situation of Indian women, especially Hindu women. Some of them do it to catch
attention while some do it purely with malice and an aim to distort Hinduism for
personal or political reasons. Some of them quote from Hindu scriptures to prove
their point, but fail to present the other side of the argument also. Obviously the people who
publish one sided information about Hindu women of Hindu society have little sympathy
and tolerance for whatever that Hinduism represents. Their approach is one sided, utterly biased
and intended toconvert people to other faiths or draw attention to
It is true that some of the ancient scriptures were very
partial to women and treated them with disdain, but we have no evidence to
suggest that people followed these scriptures to the word. In ancient India
there was a great deal of social diversity and hardly any organized political or
religious machinery to implement the religious laws universally. Religion was
then, as it is now, mostly a matter of personal choice. The smritis, or the law
books of Hinduism had little impact on the day to day lives of a vast majority of the people.
The kings and the nobility had little interest in the masses beyond collection
of taxes. It is therefore incorrect to base ones conclusions exclusively on
We therefore request the readers to be careful about such articles and websites when they
search for information about Hindu women on the internet. The problems of Hindu women are not peculiar to Hindu women. They are problems
common to most of the women irrespective of the religions they practice.
We therefore urge the readers to exercise caution when they visit the the sites
to which we have provided links here.
Links To Internet Resources On Hindu Women