There was a time (Vedic Era) when women were given utmost respect in our society. Wars were fought over small issues of honour of women. Female gods were worshipped as much as their male counterparts. Goddesses were worshipped as the Creator (Durga or the Divine Mother), Nurturer (Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati) and Destroyer (Mahishasur-Mardini, Goddess Kali). Without their female counterparts, male deities were seen as impotent. Women were seen as the source of wealth, education and Shakti (power). Ours was (is?) perhaps the only culture and society where women were given so much veneration.

But things gradually started to change. Under years of exploitation by heartless Muslim and British rulers, our society suffered significant damages. Foreign Muslim attackers looted and destroyed our temples, took away every beautiful woman they liked and killed innocent citizens. According to historians, ‘Akbar-the great’ had a royal harem (हरम) of 5000 women. It is said that words like harami (हरामी) and haramzada (हरामजादा) were first used for Akbar (because of his famous harem).

Due to extremely high taxes and lecherous Kings, people became increasingly poor and started worrying about safety of women. Due to the exploitative policies of rajahs, people had difficulties even in gathering food for their families. So they started thinking their daughters as a burden and Paraya Dhan. Birth of a girl became unwelcome, her marriage a burden and her widowhood inauspicious. Attempts to kill the girl infants at birth became usual. Those, who escaped this initial brutality were subjected to violence of marriage at a tender age. The marriage was a device to escape social ignominy, and hence, marital life did not turn out to be a pleasant experience. People started treating their wives as Muslim rulers treated theirs; they hardly set eyes on their wife once the nuptial ceremony was over. And yet, when the husband died, women were expected to die by burning themselves alive on their husband’s pyre. This was known as Sati Pratha and became a social norm in spite of having no mention in any religious scripture. In short, position of women became pathetic.

In those times, people like Raja Ram Mohan Rai and Ishwarchandra Vidya Sagar started fighting against these evils. They fought against killing of girl infants, early-marriage, Parda Pratha and Sati Pratha. They launched awareness campaigns on a large scale. They dedicated their whole life to the cause of women. Vedas, Upanishads and other religious scriptures were distributed among masses after translation in vernacular languages to tell the people that Sati and Prada have no place in our religion. They also made pressure on the government to form strict laws against these evils. Their efforts did not go in vain; they were successful in ushering a social change (mainly in Sati Pratha and early marriage).


If you really want to do something for women, learn from these persons and follow their footprints. And to do so, you don’t have to behave like the modern ‘feminists’ (or faux-feminists). Joining candle marches and writing posts like “I am ashamed to be a man”, “I am ashamed to be an Indian” do not make you feminists. If you want to call yourself feminist, fight for the equality of men and women, dare to utter a few words against Burqua, polygamy, Talaq Talaq Talaq of a particular religion; raise your voice against early marriage and killing of girls in womb.
Also, supporting laws like dowry law, Nirbhya law, Adultery law etc. does not make you a feminist; it makes you misandrist.

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