Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Who Will Teach Us?

For most women living here, Kashmir has always been hell. To live as a daughter is hell, to leave one’s home for the spouse’s home is a bigger hell. To continue to live in alien house (that rarely becomes home) is like serving a life sentence. Most homes are a hell for daughters-in law. Mothers-in law have their own hell to keep burning.
But let us today focus on the hell of our daughters who suddenly get deprived of the status as daughters and become only legal subjects, who are no longer humans.
One daughter-in-law reaches her home by 6pm where everyone including the mother-in-law and husband’s brother, are waiting for her to prepare tea and dinner for them. She is unable to take tea before7.30pm.  Kitchen odour must not spread to irritate anyone in the house and she must be very careful in the kitchen. Another has to buy the milk she boils that curdles for no fault of her own.  Another is caught between two dictators – mother-in-law and husband who make it a point that to not help her in any way in domestic chores as if it is her business only. Another can’t keep her daughters in the house for the day and has to take them to her parent’s home in the morning and then again take them back in evening.  There are countless stories that constitute crimes against women. Crimes against human dignity, crimes against God, crimes against all civilised existence. But there is no court, no commission to complain to. There is no civil society, no NGOs, no government, no pulpit managers who are concerned (may be some exceptions are there).

It is too painful to contemplate countless stories of brazen human rights violations that are, in psycho-spiritual terms, more damaging than often publicised cases of rapes and acid attacks. There are cases that constitute, so to speak, acid on the soul that destroys one’s whole personality. There are tears, tears and tears. One can’t resist tears while listening to conversations amongst women about what happens to them.
Isn’t it the case that most of us consider domestic work to be a daughter-in-law’s business? Isn’t it a fact that less than 5 per cent of women are respectfully treated as persons at their in laws. Isn’t it the case that there are sometimes contradictory authorities of spouse’s father, mother, sister and brother that she has to contend with? Isn’t it the case that a woman has often none to share her heart’s pain with the whole world? Prick any daughter-in-law and a flood of tears open brust forth.
Once it was a practice that bridegroom had to share all the expenses including wardan and wazi harie (chef’s expenses) as is required in Islam.  Once it was a community and not an individual that felt a daughter is to be married. A girl’s father hardly felt the crushing burden that marrying a daughter now has become.
I am not advocating sticking to legal definitions that may not require a daughter-in-law to work in husband’s home, but pleading for considering them as humans first. Give them love and they will, most probably, serve husband’s parents with love. Girls who are married are denied the right to have a separate home, right to enjoy life at the expense of husband’s salary, right to be herself. Love cancels all demands, all duties.
Daily, we chose not to take notice of it. It is our sister’s, our daughter’s turn anytime.  Can we do anything about it? I think if we don’t,  we will become like the Europeans who have dispensed away with the whole baggage of haash and nosh and their eternal conflicts and perverse behaviour. Elementary ethics is lacking in these cases. Who will teach us this?

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