I have always felt strongly about women's issues and have on several occasions passionately argued for such topics with my friends, family and strangers. But I have never felt so compelled ever before as much as right now to pen down my thoughts to be etched in internet history for at-least some time to come.
Over the past few weeks while conversing on mundane everyday topics with my mother, my sister and a girl friend I heard real-life examples of how women even today are being treated like second class citizens in their own homes. They are being continually discriminated and abandoned over such trivial issues that might sound like straight out of a Hindi television saga but are not.
My friend's sister who has been married for 3 years just recently came to visit her parents. When she mentioned that this is no ordinary visit and that she has been brought home since her in-laws (and husband-mind you) did not want her in the house anymore I was shocked. "What's the matter?" -I asked when she appeared both sad and embarrassed to be telling this story. Her in-laws and husband had always been the typical demanding groom family that all of us must have heard about at some points on our lives as Indian citizens. The family gets the couple married but cannot wash their hands from interfering with the affairs of the couple. Succumbing to the pressures of his family the groom starts harassing the girl (for money, gifts, house chores etc) and ultimately it becomes too much for the girl to bear it. She cries, she sighs and asks her family to bring her back to her home. A home she was born in and that will remain her home as long as she is alive and away from a home that she wanted to make her own but could only get a second-class entry in since she 'married into' the family. It saddened me even further to hear that her own parents were still trying to reconcile with the in-laws.
My other friend who just got married recently heard some stern words of disapproval from he father in law when she and her husband announced that they would be moving to their own apartment and will not be sharing the apartment with her husband's elder brother who they were living with temporarily until now. She was accused of breaking the bond of love between the two brothers when they made the decision as a couple and she did not force it upon anyone in the first place.
When I mentioned these sad stories to my mother who knows these friends of mine since childhood she just said one thing. "Girls will always be treated as second class citizens in their in-laws homes". My mother has initially lived in a typical joint family when she got married. But once her in-laws expired my father and mother moved to an independent home. I have never heard such stories from my mother so coming from her this statement seemed troublesome. But then I got to thinking that she has raised two daughters and hears and experiences the same stories that I mention above. It is inevitable for her to feel the plight of these girls who are treated as outsiders in their own homes. The are overburdened with millions of expectations, the struggles of managing an entire household, all along with dealing with feminine issues and emotions.
You may say since they are not born in the family that is the reason they are treated as outsiders. Well I feel it is not true. I read a great blog sometime back where the writer tries to solve the puzzle of why her mother in law treats her like a second-class citizen but her daughter's husband is treated as a special guest and personality whenever he is around. I agree with her point that it's not just about being a daughter-in-law. It is more importantly about being a female- who themselves are a minority. They are themselves still treated as second class citizens in this male dominated society.
I refuse to talk about how to make it better-just because each one of us either reading this piece or some one who somehow comes under the purview of being related or remotely connected to this subject called a 'daughter-in-law' knows how to make things better.