Category: Situation of Women

Status of Girls and Education

By , June 11, 2009 5:19 am

The declining sex ratio together with the fact that the number of girl to boys in the Panchmahals is even lower among the population of 0 to 6 years, at 934 girls to 1000 boys (Census 2001), suggests that there might be a situation of female foeticides in the area. This means that there are medical assisted selective abortions of female fetuses, as a completely unhampered sex ratio will have a slightly higher number of girls than boys. These figures give evidence that girls are continuously viewed as a burden in the area. Furthermore, the women are to a much higher degree illiterate than men in the Panchmahals, only 45 % of the women can read and write, as compared to 77 % of the men (Census 2001). The girls drop out of school at an early age to help their parents work in the field or with domestic tasks. Due to the dowry system it is more worthwhile for the parents to keep the boys at school, as this will generate a higher dowry when it is time for the son to get married. Apart from the dowry aspect, education is generally considered a male domain in society, although this attitude is slowly changing. At present there are not enough schools in the area to keep all the children, and many of the existing schools lack basic facilities such as toilets etc. Many girls choose not to go to school because they have to travel too far. Some also witness that they feel humiliated not being able to have any privacy when going to the toilet, and intimidated by only having male teachers.

Physical Violence and Isolation

By , June 11, 2009 5:18 am

Tribal societies because of their particular characteristics breed a physical isolation. The houses are far apart, sometimes at distances of half kilometer. Busy with getting through their daily workload, women hardly have an opportunity to meet and interact with each other. There exists no legitimate traditional space for women to get together (apart from deaths and marriages). With this physical and social isolation, there exists culture of silence among women, which results in a weak sense of self hood. They never get the chance to discuss their situation and hence never get any input that things can and should change.

Domestic violence is sadly a common phenomenon. Studies show that rural women are more likely to justify that a husband is beating his wife, is he for instance suspects her of being unfaithful; if her natal family does not give expected money, jewelry, or other items; if she shows disrespect for her in-laws; if she goes out without telling him; if she neglects the house or children; or if she does not cook food properly. Women belonging to scheduled tribes, scheduled castes, or other backward classes are more tolerant of wife beating than are women not belonging to any of these groups. Although alcohol is forbidden in Gujarat, male alcoholism is common. Drunkenness often brings violence. Some women may modify their behavior to avoid physical violence by engaging in silent passivity during verbal arguments and complying with unwanted sex. As women try to minimize exposure to violence, their ability to insist on monogamy, negotiate condom use, or refuse sex is limited.

Health and Sexuality

By , June 11, 2009 5:18 am

The heavy work burden of the women directly affects their health. In combination with a too small intake of food – that is innutritious in character – the women are often in poor condition. Yet discomforts and maladies are born without fuss or discussions. This is partly due to the fact that the traditional health care system is modeled after men, and therefore it has failed to see the different experiences and health needs of the women. They are not used to talking about their bodies and their symptoms. There is also a lack of understanding in the society for the particular health problems of women. During pregnancies women usually perform all their daily chores up till the time of labour, and they do not normally take any nutritious supplements to their diets. The fact that women are defined through their body and physique adds to the ignorance of women’s health. In society their appearance and beauty is being judged, and the main purpose of their bodies is to work and bear children. Inability to live up to these expectations of the surface, for instance by women having a weak physique, is not tolerated. This gives the women another motive for keeping quiet about their health problems. Particularly gynecological problems are being concealed. The female genital organs are considered as “dirty” and something to be ashamed of. In general women are not considered as sexual subjects. They are not asked about their desires or sexual wants and needs. Instead they are supposed to be passive recipients of the male sexuality. The lack of opportunities for young women to receive sex education and HIV information leads them to accumulate unverifiable myths. Social norms only encourage “innocent” women, women who are sexually naive until marriage, does not seek pleasure from sex, one who would willingly and actively participate in sex only for the pleasure of her husband. The women have a lack of control over their own bodies and health, and have little room to value and analyze their experiences. Furthermore, as the district is drought prone, many times people are forced to migrate in search for wages to nearby cities and industrial areas. Women migrating face very hard situations where their well being is at the hands of the landowners and contractors hiring them, and physical and sexual abuse is not uncommon. Men migrating often bring STD’s back. In general men do not consider reproductive health as their area of responsibility, and contraceptive methods such as condoms are frowned upon. In this way the women shoulder a double role of both being passive recipients of the men’s sexuality, and the bearers of responsibility of the same. When a man gets HIV the spouse get the blame, even if she has been monogamous. It is considered her fault that the man turned to other women, and she is responsible for his health.

Economic Status and Legal Rights

By , June 11, 2009 5:17 am

The tribal women’s position within the family is that of domestic laborers, and not of human beings equal to men. The society is patriarchal per definition and male dominated structures weigh heavily against women; they seldom have recourses to justice or influence in decisions. They are marginalized in society because they are tribal, and they are marginalized among the tribals because they are women. They have a very low social status and practically no economic and political rights. The women are poorer than men are because they have no right to decide how the money of the family should be spent. They are voiceless and men would never consider asking their opinion on any matter, even one which is directly related to their lives. Women normally get the blame for everything that is bad, but no credits when things are good. A serious issue is that they are not aware about their legal rights. When physically or mentally abused the women endure the situation, because they think that it is a natural part of being a woman, and the situation cannot change. Husbands and elders do not think twice about bringing in second women, if the first one fails to produce a child – more particularly a son. The society and the people surrounding them exploit them but they do not oppose their husbands and in-laws or ever think of going to the police because they believe that only men can inform police.

Domestic Responsibilities

By , June 11, 2009 5:16 am

The women shoulder unequal responsibility for managing families and domestic duties. They are responsible for caring for the children, the old and the sick. They also have all domestic duties under their area of obligations. On a normal workday the women get up first in the family to fetch fuel wood for cooking and fodder for the cattle. This can be a task that takes hours, as the forests are diminishing and they have to walk further and further. They are also required to bring water to the household, and sometimes the functioning wells are far away. After having prepared the morning meal they are the last ones to eat from the leftovers. Thereafter they will work the whole day in the field, doing harder physical labor than the men. If it is a wage labor job they will earn a much lower salary their male counterparts. In the evenings they have to walk to fetch fuel, water and fodder again. After preparing dinner, and being the last in the house to eat, they have all other domestic duties to take care of such as housekeeping, laundry etc.

Situation of Womens

By , June 11, 2009 5:15 am

To understand how to work for improvement of women condition is important to comprehend the particular situation of the women in the area and the societal gender bias against them. All the negative impacts of poverty hit the women harder than the men. The women are being subject to a greater disproportion of the problems of the area, and are consequently in a worse physical and mental state than their male counterparts. To reach any results in creating a raised level of awareness in the whole society, these inequalities need to be addressed.