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EXPECTED ESSAY TOPIC --Status of Women in India: Peeping into the Grey Areas

Some essay topics for sbi po exam
;Corruption In India
;Legalising Prostitution in India
;Role of media in a democracy
;Jan Lokpal Bill
;Bribery in Business
;Budget 2013-14
;Economic Growth Of India

Status of Women in India: Peeping into the Grey Areas
“However much a mother may love her children, it is all but impossible for her to provide high-quality child care if she herself is poor and oppressed, illiterate and uniformed, anaemic and unhealthy, has five or six other children, lives in a slum or shanty, has neither clean water nor safe sanitation, and if she is without the necessary support either from health services, or from her society, or from the father of her children”.
The words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, reflects the then prevailing conditions of women in India. Much water has flown down Ganges. Today, when we look back at the changing horizons of the role and status of women in Indian society, we could witness that despite having done much towards empowerment, majority of their lives give a dismal picture.
From pastoral society to contemporary information and global society, the role of women has changed drastically. The role of a typical “Grihani” (house wife) who catered to all the requirements of the households including the rearing and upbringing of children in various sub roles of daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother, aunt etc. has been played quite efficiently. The continuity of changes in socio-economic and psycho-cultural aspects of human living has influenced the role of women. With the process of Industrialization, Modernization and Globalization showing its deep impact on the human society all over the world, the role and responsibilities of women has attained new definition and perspective. Further, this has also led to addition of responsibilities and widened the role of women who also shares the financial responsibilities.
The existing lacuna in the formulation and execution of the policies has not changed the grass root situation to a great extent. On the encouraging front, in India there have been relatively increasing economic participation in past one decade. Statistically, the rate of literacy among women has also increase. The educational and occupational patterns have also changed and widened with women entering the domains, which till decade back was considered to be dominated by men. Further there has been encouraging rise in the percentage of the women joining service sector especially banking and Information Technology. In the background of the gigantic transformation, the core issue, which still remains unanswered, is that of women’s right and empowerment.
India has elaborate laws to protect the rights of women, including the Prevention of Immoral Traffic, The Sati (widow burning) Act, and the Dowry Prevention Act. Women and children have figured prominently in the government’s agenda of social reforms and initiatives. However, the Government is often unable to enforce these laws, especially in rural areas where traditions are deeply rooted. Dowry, female bondage and forced prostitution are widespread in some parts of India. Common forms of violence against Indian women include: Female foeticide (selective abortion based on the foetus gender or sex selection of child), Domestic violence, Dowry death or harassment, Mental and physical torture, Sexual trafficking, and Public humiliation. Many obstacles to the realization of women’s human rights in India, are social and cultural in nature, deeply rooted in the traditions of its communities.
A close look at the grey areas that act as the main obstacle to Indian women’s rights, safety and equality in the society give a shocking picture of their status, in spite of all the efforts towards upliftment and empowerment. Indian society has not yet matured enough to treat them at par with men.
As in other countries throughout the world, rape is common in India. Rape is a social disease. Hardly a day passes without a case of rape being reported in Indian newspapers and media. Women belonging to low castes and tribal women are more at risk. What is sad about rape in India is the lack of seriousness with which the crime is often treated. Statistics from 2000 showed that on an average a woman is raped every hour in India. Women’s groups attest that the strict and conservative attitudes about sex and family privacy contribute to ineffectiveness of India’s rape laws. Victims are often reluctant to report rape. After proving that she has been raped, a victim is often ostracized from family and community. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that rape laws are inadequate and definitions so narrow that prosecution is made difficult.
Another serious problem marring women of both rural and urban India is dowry. Dowry or Dahej is the payment in cash or kind by the bride’s family to the bridegroom’s family along with the giving away of the bride (called Kanyadaan) in Indian marriage. Kanyadanam is an important part of Hindu marital rites. Dowry originated in upper caste families as the wedding gift to the bride from her family. The dowry was later given to help with marriage expenses and became a form of insurance in the case that her in-laws mistreated her. Although the dowry was legally prohibited in 1961, it continues to be highly institutionalized. The practice of dowry abuse is rising in India. The most severe is “bride burning”, the burning of women whose dowries were not considered sufficient by their husband or in-laws. Most of these incidents are reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are disguised as suicide. It is evident that there exist deep rooted prejudices against women in India. Cultural practices such as the payment of dowry tend to subordinate women in Indian society. When the dowry amount is not considered sufficient or is not forthcoming, the bride is often harassed abused and made miserable. This abuse can escalate to the point where the husband or his family burns the bride, often by pouring kerosene on her and lighting it, usually killing her. The official records of these incidents are low because they are often reported as suicides by the family. In Delhi, a woman is burned to death almost every twelve hours. The number of dowry murders is increasing. In 1988, 2,209 women were killed in dowry related incidents and in 1990, around 4,835 were killed. With the turn of the millennium decade, the figures started reducing but not drastically. It is important to reiterate that these are official records, which are immensely under reported.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India’s population as a result of systematic gender discrimination in India. In most countries in the world, there are approximately 105 female births for every 100 males.
In India, there are less than 93 women for every 100 men in the population. The accepted reason for such a disparity is the practice of female infanticide in India, prompted by the existence of a dowry system which requires the family to pay out a great deal of money when a female child is married. For poor family, the birth of a girl child can signal the beginning of financial ruin and extreme hardship. However, this anti-female bias is by no means limited to poor families. Much of the discrimination is to do with cultural beliefs and social norms. These norms themselves must be challenged if this practice is to stop.
Diagnostic teams with ultrasound scanners which detect the sex of a child advertise with catchlines such as spend 600 rupees now and save 50,000 rupees later. The implication is that by avoiding a girl, family will avoid paying a large dowry on the marriage of her daughter. According to UNICEF, the problem is getting worse as scientific methods of detecting the sex of a baby and of performing abortions is improving. These methods are becoming increasingly available in rural areas of India, fuelling fears that the trend towards the abortion of female fetuses in on the increase.
According to a report in Asian Age there are at least 70,000 women sex workers in Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, Bangalore and Hyderabad. 30% of these women are under 20 years of age. 40% are 20-30 years of age, and approximately 15% of them became prostitutes as children under the age of 12. The majority of these women are Dalits or from castes which are recognized as backward under the Indian ‘constitution. In India, many innocent victims are forced into prostitution by their husbands or relatives. Some are tricked or entered into prostitution. With the increased threat of HIV/AIDS, women are at more risk.
Next major issue is domestic violence. It can be described as when one adult in a relationship misuses power to control another. It is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. The violence may involve physical abuse, sexual assault and threats. Sometimes it’s more subtle, like making someone feel worth less, not letting them have any money, or not allowing them to leave the home.
Domestic violence isn’t just hitting, or fighting, or an occasional argument. It’s an abuse of power. The abuser tortures and controls the victim by calculated threats, intimidation, and physical violence. Although both men and women can be abused, in most cases, the victims are women. Children in homes where there is domestic violence are also abused or neglected. Although women are usually the primary target, violence is sometimes directed toward children, and sometimes toward family members and friends. Domestic violence can be Psychological Abuse, Social Abuse, Financial Abuse, Physical Assault or Sexual Assault. Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault or injury (hitting, beating, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (forced sexual activity), or stalking. Government has come up with a number of legislation on this, but the ground realities remain the same.
In the Indian context, patriarchal structure of the society over centuries has gradually let to gender inequality. Women rights in this context have assumed exclusively. Further, when women are not considered equal to the men in the social context the question of women rights arises. The women rights are the means by which a dignified living is ensured thereby safeguarding her privileges. Thus the basic fundamental rights of speech, freedom and decision making are her basic rights as in individual and citizen. The right for education and employment are significant for women development and national development in the wider sense. The power and freedom to exercise these rights is women empowerment. Women are not independent to each other. The women empowerment can only be facilitated only if she is able to exercise her right in the social-economic spheres of decision making.
India has a long history of activism for women’s welfare and rights, which has increasingly focused on women’s economic rights. A range of government programs have been launched to increase economic opportunity for women, although there appear to be no existing programs to address the cultural and traditional discrimination against women that leads to her abject conditions. Unless women throw off the shackles which ignore their talent, their skill and their spirit, women cannot be empowered. And unless they are empowered to a take a decisive part in the social, political and economic life of the country, the very development of the country may be adversely affected. At a time when India is aspiring to be a world power, the negligence of true women empowerment may cost it dear. Any policy measure taken towards the upliftment of the so called “weaker sections’ of the society should be comprehensive, sustainable and progressive, When women achieve, the nation advances, when they don’t the nation retreats. 

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