Women Forced to Walk Barefoot: Fear & Loathing in Rajasthan

In today's video, IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Shambhulal Khatik calls the bluff on the hypocrisy behind senseless rituals that demean women which are allowed to continue in broad daylight, in the name of 'tradition'.

Says Shambhu, "As soon as a girl child comes of age, she is married off. Numerous restrictions are placed upon her. She wears a ghoonghat (veil), she cannot move around unaccompanied in public, she is made to disappear from social spaces. Her destiny and life is no longer in her control. They are determined by her husband and the elders."

"There is no consideration given to a girl's independence or education or aspirations. The only impediment to her marriage will be the matter of dowry. It is society which keeps the girl child from being empowered and educated. And since it has been happening for thousands of years, they call it 'tradition'."

In Shambhu's village, the women are not allowed to cross the village square where the panchayat (council) holds its meetings with slippers on their feet. Even if they are carrying load or pots on their heads, the women have to remove their slippers and cross the few square meters on barefoot as a display of 'respect'. Non-compliance with the 'tradition' is besides the point. "No one dares question it," says Shambhu.

Rajasthan is the state with one of the most skewered sex ratios in the country. Female foeticide is rife and in some regions, there are less than 800 women for every 1000 men. The female literacy rate is the lowest in the country.

Rajasthan is a state that records despairingly high numbers in violence against women. On an average, 3 women are raped daily. A dalit woman is raped every 60 hours. Dowry crimes, domestic violence and child marriages are commonplace. 400 women suffer rights violations on a daily basis. It is the state with the highest maternal mortality rate.

But despite all evidence of heading towards a dystopian future of fear and much loathing, Rajasthan refuses to shed its feudal, orthodox past and alter its 'traditions'. It is blinded and continues to walk defiantly into the sinkhole.

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