Discrimination comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. While some show up as violent acts like rape other cases of gender discrimination are so subtle you wouldn’t give them a second thought. Often these surreptitious ways of discriminating between boys and girls are what cause the most damage. Community Correspondent Gayatri documents one such obscure ritual, the ‘Saptami Beti’, where women celebrate having a son.
Uttar Pradesh, Biwana is not an easy place for a woman to live her life as she chooses. Her identity will almost certainly be tied up to the men of the family– first her brothers and father, then her husband and in-laws. Those who have daughters are further subjected to taunts from the family. The sex ratio of the State, 912 women for every 1000 men is far below the national average, and speaks volumes of the social status of women.
“It is important to talk about this. I want to show this video in all the areas where ‘Saptami’ is celebrated. People give it so much importance even though it is a rather strange celebration. Why don’t they celebrate their daughters who keep their houses running, the cattle fed and the water tanks filled? Why just their sons? The tradition and rationality behind it are so deeply carved into people… but we can change it” says Gayatri.
Gayatri has experienced this first hand. Her rebellious streak however has taken her far and she is actively involved in raising and spreading awareness about the subtleties of gender discrimination. Through the NGO she runs, she holds discussions about mapping gender violence and getting more women to talk about it.
“I see gender discrimination in my own family. As a young girl, my elder brothers wouldn’t let me cycle or go to school. My sister in law who has two daughters perpetually feels guilty that she has no son. I am lucky that I have a supportive husband who is OK with my relatively independent life. I don’t know how things would have turned out had I got the usual sort who would keep my confined to my kitchen,” says Gayatri.
Her parting wisdom: “Keep your traditions alive, but it is time to reinvent the old ways and to remove all elements of discrimination in the ways we celebrate. So celebrate your daughter too!!”