Navaratri, all nine days are dedicated to nine forms of Goddess Shakti, Durga, Amba, Jagdamba… People fast, pray to the goddess, hold Jaagrans and kirtans AND THEN somewhere in our own country a girl child is killed within her mother’s womb, a girl is deprived of education, a girl is forcefully married to someone she does not even know, a girl is killed in the name of honour, a girl is beaten behind the closed doors of her husband’s house, a girl (an old mother) is neglected mercilessly by her own son, a girl’s talent is lost behind the chulaah and taking care of her family… and then we pray to the goddess Shakti.
For a change this Ashtami we can make the following promises to every girl in our country:
1. No girl, NO girl will be killed inside a mother’s womb, even before she could see sunlight, No girl will be killed or left in dustbins just after her birth. If we witness something suspicious around us even if we are connected to the person we will do what is right.
2. No girl will be stopped from going to school, no girl will be deprived of education. We can pledge to help at least one girl in need to acquire education. No girl will be asked to stop her education just because she has acquired enough to get married.
3. No girl will be harassed in streets, in schools, in colleges, in offices, in bus, in train, in airplane, in her own house, in shops, in malls and anywhere. Let us all teach our sons to respect dignity of an individual, to respect somebody’s ‘no’. We can simply start with Holi festival, when a girl says no to a boy to not apply colour on her, let us all teach our sons that one can’t forcefully apply colour simply singing, ‘Bura na mano holi hai’. Let us all teach our boys the real meaning of consent.
4. No girl will be asked to marry a stranger, forcefully. NO girl will be pressurised to get married or taught that marriage is the sole purpose of life. No girl will be married off before the right age just to get rid of a responsibility. I pledge to stand against it, if I witness something like this around me.
5. No girl will be asked to give up on her dreams just because her parents don’t want her to work, just because her husband thinks so, just because her mother in law wants someone at home. No girl will be asked to simply give away everything just because people round her want it. No girl will be asked to stay confined in the house for the sake of family’s ego. Every girl will have the right to choose any career and work anywhere she wants SAFELY.
6. No girl will be taught to tolerate the harassment behind the closed doors of her husband’s house for the sake of family’s “izzat” We will teach our daughters to fight back for themselves, to stand up for their pride, we will teach them not to let anyone take their self esteem for granted. We will teach our sons the real meaning of worshiping a goddess, we will teach them that a woman gives all the love she has to her husband and his family, a woman deserves respect and care for it.
7. No girl will be taught that a woman needs to be the only one making all the sacrifices for everyone’s happiness, we will teach them to stick to their choices and desires as well and not always giving up on things for others just because, “ladkiyaan sab samjhti hai, ladkiyan ladkon se jyada samajhdaar hoti hai, Ladke nhi maante”…. Let us not teach this to our daughters, Why do we burden our daughters with so much responsibility when they are still growing up.
8. No girl will be asked to keep quiet when something happens (sexual harassment) in office, in college or anywhere, let us teach every girl that the deed is shameful only to the culprit and not to the victim. No girl will be judged for something that is not even her fault, “Tight clothes, short clothes, No clothes” Nothing gives any man a right over a girl’s body against her wishes. Let us teach our boys to stop being judgmental about a girl based on her appearance.
9. No girl (woman) will be taught to be weak or fragile, she would be taught that she needs no one to fulfill her needs. Every girl will be taught to be self reliant. She will be taught to pay her own bills, carry her own luggage and be strong.
10. No girl will be taught “ladkiyan toh paraya dhan hoti hain”, every girl will have equal right to be with her parents, take care of them just the way her husband can take care of his parents. No girl will be asked to simply forget her family and parents after marriage.
If each one of us promise this, this ashtami, we will be able to create a better world for our children. I have tried to list all, if I have missed few, please add the promise you think we need to make this ashtami, this Devi Pujan, true in every sense.
Having said this, I want to add that it is clearly visible that boys today believe in equality, they are okay with girls paying the bills, carrying their own bags and it is a beautiful change. Boys or girls both are equal and it all depends on upbringing. Behaviour towards someone should only be based on their actions and not on their gender, if a girl does wrong then even she deserves same reaction as it would be given to a boy.
SO we should also teach our girls that equality cannot be molded as per their convenience, they should not expect a boy to lift all the heavy bags, or open doors for them or talk politely to them even when it is their fault. Girls should be strong enough to understand the true meaning of equality.