Women in India

It’s really paradoxical that a country where we revere so many goddesses and one of our early prime ministers was a woman, the status of women has been less than exemplary. While married women can still hope to be accorded respect by virtue of having a man’s name added to her own, India is still no place for a single woman. Roy’s God of Small Things captures this rather well when she writes that, ” …..a married daughter had no position in her parents’ home. As for a divorced daughter according to Baby Kochamma, she had no position anywhere at all.” In fact, any woman without a husband is taken as an anomaly.
I recall watching this movie “Songshoy” (the Dilemma), a story of a young widow. The story portrays the agony of a mother of choosing between living alone with her son or getting married and incurring the unspoken censure of her son. By a strange quirk of fate, just as she was about to make her choice clear for the latter option, her son acquires a strain of malaria which is wrongly diagnosed as pneumonia by the person she wants to get married to. Her son dies and the movie ends. The last scene pans to the mother’s face showing a myriad of emotions..shock, guilt, sadness and above all helplessness.
Juxtapose this with the real life situation of a divorcee, who didn’t remarry feeling that her daughter would be better off without a “step-father”. Not to mention that the option of remarrying for a divorcee is still not easy. This was about 20 years ago. Now, apart from the ugly whispers about her character, even her daughter consider her to be ‘loose’. Ironic!The above scenarios highlight just two situations among the many where any choice made by single women is looked at askance. Why is remarrying for women not an option? While the media tomtoms about the growing trend of single mothers/single women by showcasing a few example, it fails to highlight the misery of countless number of women who are still ostracized by society.