Women in India

role of women in India

The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia. With a decline in their status from the ancient to medieval times, to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful.

If devotion to the fair sex be admitted as a criterion of civilization, the Rajpoot must rank high. His susceptibility is extreme, and fires at the slightest offense to female delicacy, which he never forgives. - James Tod

Pre-1947 India edit

  • The Mahometan Women do not appear in publick, except only the vulgar Sort, and the leud Ones. They cover their Heads, but the Hair hangs down behind in several Tresses. Many of them bore their Noses to wear a Gold Ring set with Stones.
    • Thevenot and Careri, Indian Travels of Thevenot and Careri, Edited by Surendra Nath Sen, National Archives of India, 1949.
  • Nevertheless, woman enjoyed far greater freedom in the Vedic period than in later India. She had more to say in the choice of her mate than the forms of marriage might suggest. She appeared freely at feasts and dances, and joined with men in religious sacrifice. She could study, and might, like Gargi, engage in philosophic disputation. If she was left a widow there were no restrictions upon her remarriage. In the Heroic Age woman seems to have lost something of this liberty.
    • Durant, Will (1963). Our Oriental heritage. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • If devotion to the fair sex be admitted as a criterion of civilization, the Rajpoot must rank high. His susceptibility is extreme, and fires at the slightest offense to female delicacy, which he never forgives.
    • James Tod, Annals and antiquities of Rajast'han
  • Take the case of the Thaaru women in the Tarai region as described by Hugh and Colleen Gantzer. “Once upon a time… a group of beautiful Sisodia Rajput princesses were spirited out of their kingdom by their loving father. Though the old man was prepared to die in the battlefield, with all honour, he could not bear the thought of all his beautiful daughters dying in the fiery self-immolation pit of Jauhar. He therefore summoned some of his bravest old retainers, charged them with the task of guarding the princesses, gave them a posse of Bhil warriors, and sent them to the safety of a remote Himalayan kingdom with which he had ties of blood. Sadly, on their arduous journey the old retainers succumbed to malaria... Eventually when the last old Rajput male had died, the princesses realised that they could go no further… They were young women, full of life. They didn’t want to die. So they made an agreement with their Bhils that they would settle down there, in a clearing in the fertile Tarai, marry them but on one condition. From that day on their female descendants would always be superior to their males... they would not serve them. And that is the way it still is. … These women were not the docile, subservient (type) we had often encountered in northern Indian villages: they were proud (and) independent…”
    • Hugh and Colleen Gantzer, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 6
  • War being a special privilege of the martial classes, harassment of the civilian population during military operations was considered a serious lapse from the code of honour. The high regard which all Kshatriyas had for the chastity of women, also ruled out abduction as an incident of war.
    • K.M. Munshi, 'End of Ancient India' in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Journal, vol. IV, no. II, December 29, 1959, pp. 8, 14. quoted from Lal, K. S. (1999). Theory and practice of Muslim state in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 1
  • I do not know any book that says as many kind and delicate things to females as in the law book of Manu; these old men and saints have a way of minding their manners in front of women that has perhaps never been surpassed.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, (AC 56) quoted from Elst, Koenraad. Manu as a weapon against egalitarianism: Nietzsche and Hindu political philosophy in : Siemens & Vasti Roodt, eds.: Nietzsche, Power and Politics (Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2008).
  • Orme, along with many others, affirms that “nature seems to have showered beauty on the fairer sex throughout Hindustan with a more lavish hand than in most other countries.
    • Orme’s Fragments, quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 12
  • "Women were held in higher respect in India than in other ancient countries, and the Epics and old literature of India assign a higher position to them than the epics and literature of ancient Greece. Hindu women enjoyed some rights of property from the Vedic Age, took a share in social and religious rites, and were sometimes distinguished by their learning. The absolute seclusion of women in India was unknown in ancient times."
    • Romesh C. Dutt: The Civilization of India: 21-22
  • In these modern days there is a greater impetus towards higher education on the European lines, and the trend of opinion is strong towards women getting this higher education. Of course, there are some people in India who do not want it, but those who do want it carried the day. It is a strange fact that Oxford and Cambridge are closed to women today, so are Harvard and Yale; but Calcutta University opened its doors to women more than twenty years ago.
    • Swami Vivekananda, Women of India [1]
  • To the women of this country... I would say exactly what I say to the men. Believe in India and in our Indian faith. Be strong and hopeful and unashamed, and remember that with something to take, Hindus have immeasurably more to give than any other people in the world.
    • Swami Vivekananda, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 5, Interviews/On Indian Women--Their Past, Present And Future
  • Akbar had prohibited enslavement and sale of women and children of peasants who had defaulted in payment of revenue. He knew, as Abul Fazl says, that many evil-hearted and vicious men either because of ill-founded suspicion or sheer greed, used to proceed to villages and mahals and sack them.
    • Lal, K. S. (2012). Indian Muslims: Who are They.
  • In this background, it would be an unremitting task both in volume and repetition to give all anecdotes, facts and figures of enslavement and concubinage of captive women in the central and provincial kingdoms and independent Muslim states found mentioned in the chronicles. This would only lead to repetition resulting in the book becoming bulky.
    • K.S.Lal. Muslim Slave System in Medieval India (1994)
  • In 1635 AD, Shah Jahan’s soldiers captured some ladies of the royal Bundela family after Jujhar Singh and his sons failed to kill them in the time-honoured Rajput tradition. In the words of Jadunath Sarkar, “Mothers and daughters of kings, they were robbed of their religion and forced to lead the infamous life of the Mughal harem.”
    • Jadunath Sarkar, quoted by Sita Ram Goel in S.R. Goel: The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India.
  • The Hindus of this region had been victims of Muslim high-handedness for a long time, particularly in respect of their women. Murshid Qulî Khãn, the faujdãr of Mathura who died in 1638, was notorious for seizing “all their most beautiful women” and forcing them into his harem. “On the birthday of Krishna,” narrates Ma’sîr-ul-Umara, “a vast gathering of Hindu men and women takes place at Govardhan on the Jumna opposite Mathura. The Khan, painting his forehead and wearing dhoti like a Hindu, used to walk up and down in the crowd. Whenever he saw a woman whose beauty filled even the moon with envy, he snatched her away like a wolf pouncing upon a flock, and placing her in the boat which his men kept ready on the bank, he sped to Agra. The Hindu [for shame] never divulged what had happened to his daughter.”
    • S.R. Goel in Shourie, A., & Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. Vol. II
  • In the preceding pages it has been seen how women and children were special targets for enslavement throughout the medieval period, that is, during Muslim invasions and Muslim rule. Captive children of both sexes grew up as Muslims and served the sultans, nobles and men of means in various captives. Enslavement of young women was also due to many reasons; their being sex objects was the primary consideration and hence concentration on their captivity..... Forcible marriages, euphemistically called matrimonial alliances, were common throughout the medieval period. Only some of them find mention in Muslim chronicles with their bitter details...It is therefore no wonder that from the day the Muslim invaders marched into India to the time when their political power declined, women were systematically captured and enslaved throughout the length and breadth of the country.
    • K.S. Lal, Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. ch. 12.
  • Guru Nanak proceeds to describe how the oppressors shaved off the maidens, their ‘heads with braided hair, with vermilion marks in the parting’; how ‘their throats were choked with dust’; how they were cast out of their palatial homes, unable now to sit even in the neighbourhood of their homes; how those who had come to the homes of their husbands in palanquins, decorated with ivory, who lived in the lap of luxury, had been tied with ropes around their necks; how their pearl strings had been shattered; how the very beauty that was their jewel had now become their enemy – ordered to dishonour them, the soldiers had carried them off. ‘Since Babar’s rule has been proclaimed,’ Guru Nanak wrote, ‘even the princes have no food to eat.’ Their sacred squares shattered, where will the Hindu women bathe, how will they worship? the Guru lamented. Dishonoured, how may they now apply the tilak on their foreheads? Some return home to inquire about the safety of their loved ones. Others are cursed to sit and cry out in pain.
    • Guru Granth Sahib, quoted from Shourie, Arun (2014). Eminent historians: Their technology, their line, their fraud. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India : HarperCollins Publishers.
  • The Hindu was taxed to the extent of half the produce of his land... No gold or silver, not even the betelnut, so cheering and stimulative to pleasure, was to be seen in a Hindu house, and the wives of the impoverished native officials were reduced to taking service in Muslim families. Revenue officers came to be regarded as more deadly than the plague; and to be a government clerk was disgrace worse than death, in so much that no Hindu would marry his daughter to such a man.
    • Lane Poole : Medieval India, quoted from B.R. Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India (1946)
  • (The soldier) takes into custody all the women of the enemy’s city… Wherever they happened to pass in that very place the ladies of the Raja’s house began to be sold in the market. They used to set fire to the villages. They turned out the women (from their homes) and killed the children. Loot was their (source of) income. They subsisted on that. Neither did they have pity for the weak nor did they fear the strong… They had nothing to do with righteousness… They never kept their promise… They were neither desirous of good name, not did they fear bad name…”
    • The poet Vidyapati writing about Muslim soldiers. Kirtilata. Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • Having subjugated Khuraasaan, Babar terrified Hindustaan
    So that blame does not come on Him, the Creator has sent the Mughal as the messenger of death
    So great was the slaughter, such the agony of the people, even then You felt no compassion, Lord?
    If some powerful man strikes another, one feels no grief But when a powerful tiger slaughters a flock of helpless sheep, its master must answer
    This jewel of a country has been laid waste and defiled by dogs, so much so that no one pays heed even to the dead…
    Guru Nanak proceeds to describe how the oppressors shaved off the maidens, their ‘heads with braided hair, with vermillion marks in the parting’; how ‘their throats were choked with dust’; how they were cast out of their palatial homes, unable now to sit even in the neighbourhood of their homes; how those who had come to the homes of their husbands in palanquins, decorated with ivory, who lived in the lap of luxury, had been tied with ropes around their necks; how their pearl strings had been shattered; how the very beauty that was their jewel had now become their enemy – ordered to dishonour them, the soldiers had carried them off. ‘Since Babar’s rule has been proclaimed,’ Guru Nanak wrote, ‘even the princes have no food to eat.’
    • Guru Granth Sahib, quoted from Shourie, Arun (2014). Eminent historians: Their technology, their line, their fraud. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India : HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Writing about the days of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq (1325-51), Shihabuddin al-Umari writes: "The sultan never ceases to show the greatest zeal in making war upon the infidels... Every day thousands of slaves are sold at a very low price, so great is the number of prisoners .... (that) the value at Delhi of a young slave girl, for domestic service, does not exceed eight tankahs. Those who are deemed fit to fill the parts of domestic and concubine sell for about fifteen tankahs. In other cities prices are still lower..." Umari continues, "but still, in spite of low prices of slaves, 20000 tankahs, and even more, are paid for young Indian girls. I inquired the reason... and was told that these young girls are remarkable for their beauty, and the grace of their manners."
    • Masalik-ul-Absar, E.D. vol. III, pp. 580-81. (Shihabuddin al-Umri, Masalik-ul-Absar fi Mumalik-ul-Amar) Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1994). Muslim slave system in medieval India.
  • But when the Muhammedan invaders ... conquered the disorganised Hindu hosts, and Hindu young women began to become a prey to the lust of some of the conquerors, the custom of early marriage and the unnatural purdah were introduced by the degenerate Hindus of northern India as refuge against the inroads of Muslim Ghazis in Hindu homes.
    • Swami Shraddhanand . Hindu Sangathan p. 95, quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2014). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.377
  • ...in any view, abduction of Hindu women by the Muslims and their continued loss to the Hindu community, so far as it affects the growth of the Hindus is a matter which cannot be neglected any longer without serious consequences.
    • J.M.Dutta, ‘Continued Abduction of Hindu Women-its Effect on the Bengali Hindus‘, Modern Review, 1941, pp.358-9 : cited in Rakesh Batabyal, Communalism in Bengal: From Famine To Noakhali, 1943-47, SAGE, 2005 p.287 [2]
  • At Mansera and some other places (N.W.F.P.) there are regular camps where Hindu girls are being sold.
    • Krapala Singh, Select documents on Partition of Punjab-1947: India and Pakistan : Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal-India and Punjab-Pakistan, National Book Shop, 1991, p.639
  • At the height of the riots, during August and September, when the majority of rapes and abductions occurred, there was almost no limit to the vehemence of the mobs. Throughout the chaos, both planned and random abductions of women and girls were carried out, particularly in situations in which large number of refugees — disoriented and inadequately protected — had assembled or were on the move. For example, Kirpal Singh records that two trains crossed on the Kamoke railway line, one carrying 260 refugees and the other carrying Pakistan Army soldiers. After the latter realized that the former was carrying Hindu refugees, it was attacked. Most of the men were killed and 50 women and girls were forcibly taken by the soldiers. Similarly, in East Bengal, the Ansars, a paramilitary force responsible for the safety of the citizens also perpetrated attacks and abducted Hindu women. One of my respondents was on one of the trains leaving Pakistan and recalled how she hid in a toilet. ... In the confusion that followed, while she was fortunate enough to avoid being abducted, she witnessed many girls and women being taken from the trains. ... Describing the massacres of refugees in Kamoke, Gujranwala district, an Indian official wrote, the most ignoble feature of the tragedy was the distribution of young girls amongst the members of the Police Force, the National Guards (an Islamo-fascist organization-AN) and the local goondas. The Station House Officer Dilder Hussain collected the victims in an open space near Kamoke Railway Station and gave a free hand to the mob. After the massacre was over, the girls were distributed like sweets ... Later on as a result of the efforts of the Liasion Agency and the East Punjab Police some girls were recovered from Kamoke, Eminabad and some surrounding villages ... A list of at least 70 untraced girls abducted from the Kamoke train was handed over [to] the Police by District Liasion Officer ... It is feared that most of these girls had been sold or taken underground.
    • Bina D’Costa, Nation building, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia, Routledge, 2011, pp.57-60. Partition of India, 1947. [3]
  • [When the Jihadist tribal Mujahidin raided Kashmir in 1947, the girls abducted by the Jihadists] 'were exhibited in the bazaars of Peshawar and Bannu, thereby enticing Pathans towards Kashmir. Many were subjected to unmentionable indignities.'
    • (Shanta Kumari, President, National Women's Conference of J&K, Hindustan Times, 30-Dec-1947) [4]
  • Shree Krishna’s army did not forsake their kinswomen, simply because they were forcibly polluted and violated — a dastardly thought which he never entertained for a minute. On the contrary Shree Krishna as the Bhoopati, the Lord of the whole Earth, brought all those sixteen thousand or more women to his kingdom, rehabilitated them honourably and took upon himself the responsibility of feeding and protecting them. This very act of Krishna, as the Bhoopati, has been fantastically construed by the writers of the Puranas as to describe him the husband of those thousands of women. He was later thought to have married all of them’.
    • V D Savarkar, 1963:1971, p.182. 'Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History' . About the Puranic example of Sri Krishna fighting against Narakasura. [5]
  • With this same shameless religious fanaticism the aggressive Muslims of those times considered it their highly religious duty to carry away forcibly the women of the enemy side, as if they were commonplace property to ravish them, to pollute them and to distribute them to all and sundry, from the Sultan to the common soldier and to absorb them completely in their fold. This was considered a noble act which increased their number.
    • V D Savarkar, 1963:1971, p.176. 'Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History' [6]
  • With the Muslim conquest the position of Indian women suffered a set-back. After the fall of every city, and sometimes even in times of peace, women suffered every kind of privation. Historians like Ziyauddin Barani and Shams Siraj ‘Afif hint at it, while Ibn Battiita’s narrative makes revolting reading. As a bulwark against these humiliations Jauhar and Sati, already prevalent in Hindu society, began to be practised on a large scale in times of war. In times of peace Parda (seclusion) and child-marriage were considered to be good safeguards. The custom of ghiinghat among Hindus is described by Vidyapati and Malik Muhammad Jaisi, but the ‘‘more developed form of Parda, with its elaborate code of tules, came into existence almost from the beginning of the Muslim tule in Hindustan’’. Life of women was restricted in Muslim society; Firdz Tughlaq and Sikandar Lodi forbade the pilgrimage of women to the tomb of saints.
    • K.S. Lal, Twilight of the Sultanate (1963) p. 269
  • Nature seems to have showered beauty on their fairer sex throughout Indostan, with a more lavish hand than in most other countries. They are all, without exception, fit to be married before thirteen, and wrinkled before thirty – flowers of too short a duration not to be delicate; and too delicate to last long. Segregated from the company of the other sex, and strangers to the ideas of attracting attention, they are only the handsomer for this ignorance; as we see in them; beauty in the noble simplicity of nature. Hints have already been given of their physiognomy: their skins are of a polish and softness beyond that of all their rivals on the globe: a statuary would not succeed better in Greece itself, in his pursuit of the Grecian form; and although in the men he would find nothing to furnish the ideas of the Farnesian Hercules, he would find in the women the finest hints of the Medicean Venus.
    • . The fairer sex, Robert Orme Orme, Robert, Historical Fragments of the Mogul Empire, of the Morattoes, and of the English Concerns in Indostan, Associated Publishing House, 1978, first published 1782.quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume IV Chapter14
  • In the exercise of the tongue, a female of Hindostan hath few equals; and if she hath ever followed a camp, I would pronounce her invincible on any ground in Europe. An English woman, educated at our most noted seminaries, and skilled in all the various compass of debate, will, perhaps, on some interesting occasion, maintain the contest for an hour, which then terminates in blows and victory. But an Indian dame, improved by a few campaigns, has been known to wage a colloquial war, without introducing one manual effort, for the space of three successive days; sleeping and eating at reasonable intervals. There is a fertility of imagination, a power of expression, inherent in the mind, and vocal ability, of an Asiatic, particularly a female one, which cannot be engendered in the cold head of an European: and there is an extent of language also peculiar to the East, which the limits of Western speech do not contain.
    • Forster, George, A Journey From Bengal To England, 2 vols., Languages Department, Punjab, 1970, first published 1808.quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume IV Chapter14
  • …it may be said, with truth, that…the Hindoo females…lie under much less restraint, enjoy more real freedom, and are in possession of more enviable privileges than the persons of their sex in any other Asiatic country. In fact, to them belong the entire management of their household, the care of their children, the superintendence of the menial servants, the distribution of alms and charities. To their charge are generally intrusted the money, jewels, and other valuables. To them belongs the care of procuring provisions, and providing for all expenses. It is they also who are charged, almost to the exclusion of their husbands, with the most important affair of procuring wives for their sons, and husbands for their daughters, and, in doing this, they evince a niceness, an attention, and foresight which are not certainly surpassed in any country; while in the management of their domestic business, they in general show a shrewdness, a saving-ness, and an intelligence which would do honour to the best housewives in Europe.
    In the mean while, the austerity and roughness with which they are outwardly treated in public, by their husbands, is rather a matter of form, and entirely ceases when the husband and his wife are in private. It is then that the Hindoo females assume all that empire which is everywhere exercised in civilised countries, by the persons of their sex over the male part of creation; find means to bring them under their subjection, and rule over them, in several instances, with a despotic sway. In short, although outwardly exposed in public to the forbidding and repulsive frowns of an austere husband, they can be considered in no other light than as perfectly the mistresses within the house.
    The influence of the Hindoo females on the welfare of families is so well known, that the successes or misfortunes of the Hindoos are almost entirely attributed to their good or bad management. When a person prospers in the world, it is customary to say that he has the happiness to possess an intelligent wife, to whom he is indebted for his welfare; and when any one runs to ruin, it is the custom to say that he has for his partner a bad wife, to whom his misfortunes must chiefly be attributed. In short, a good-natured and intelligent wife is considered by all castes of natives, as the most valuable of all the blessings which could be bestowed on a family and a bad one as the most dreaded of all curses; so great is their influence on the fate of the Hindoo households.
    The authority of married women within their houses is chiefly exerted in preserving good order and peace among the persons who compose their families; and a great many among them discharge this important duty with a prudence and a discretion which have scarcely a parallel in Europe. I have known families composed of between thirty and forty persons, or more, consisting of grown sons and daughters, all married and all having children, living together under the superintendence of an old matron – their mother or mother-in-law. The latter, by good management, and by accommodating herself to the temper of her daughters-in-law; by using, according to circumstances, firmness or forbearance, succeeded in preserving peace and harmony during many years amongst so many females, who had all jarring interests, and still more jarring tempers. I ask you whether it would be possible to attain the same end, in the same circumstances, in our countries; where it is scarcely possibly to make two women living under the same roof to agree together.
    It is true that the same spirit of concord between an old Hindoo matron and her daughters on one side, and her daughters-in-law on the other, does not prevail in an equal degree in all households; but instances of such union and harmony are by no means uncommon, and they last to the death of their parents; when, ordinarily, the brothers divide the heritage, separate with their several families, and each one shifts for himself.
    …it is a weakness common to all nations, and from which the Hindoos are not exempt, to hail with more exultation the birth of a male than that of a female, and Hindoo parents are in a greater degree under the influence of these feelings, because they derive more support from a son than from a daughter; but it is untrue that a female is despised and spurned by her parents as soon as born. Parents, chiefly mothers, foster their children, both males and females, with an equal tenderness. So far from females being despised while living under the paternal roof, their parents and brothers are often seen submitting themselves to severe privations for the purpose of procuring trinkets and jewels for their daughters or sisters, in order that they may be able to appear in public with decency and advantage, while the males are seen in rags or half naked, and live forgotten at home.
    The principal care of parents is to procure suitable establishments for their daughters, over whom mothers continue to exercise a kind of paramount authority, even after their marriage, being particularly attentive to check that despotic sway which so many mothers-in-law are but too well disposed to exercise over their daughters-in-law…
    • More privileged than any in Asia, Abbe J. A. Dubois —, Abbe, Letters on the State of Christianity in India, Associated Publishing House, 1997, first published 1823.quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume IV Chapter14
  • There is a marked difference between the moral and social character of the Hindoo and the Mohammedan women of India. The Hindoo woman does not occupy that position in society which she is so eminently fitted to grace, and which is accorded to women in Europe and America; but she is by no means so degraded as is so frequently represented by travellers, who are apt to mistake the common street-woman with whom they are brought into contact for the wife and mother of an ordinary Hindoo home. It is difficult for a stranger to find out what an Indian woman is at home, though he may have encountered many a bedizened female in the streets which he takes for her.
    The influence of the Hindoo woman is seen and felt all through the history of India, and is very marked in the annals of British rule. Though the political changes, the invasion, and despotism of Mohammedan rule may have forced upon them the seclusion now so general, it is evident that they once occupied a very different position in society, from the testimony of their earliest writers and the dramatic representations of domestic life and manners still extant.
    One of the most startling facts is, that among the Asiatic rules of India who have heroically resisted foreign invasion the women of Hindostan have distinguished themselves almost as much as the men. Lakshmi Baiee, the queen of Jahnsee, held the entire British army in check for the space of twenty-four hours by her wonderful generalship, and she would probably have come off victorious if she had not been shot down by the enemy. After the battle Sir Hugh Rose, the English commander, declared that the best man on the enemy’s side was the brave queen Lakshmi Baiee. Another courageous and noble woman, Aus Khoor, was placed by the British government on the throne of Pattiala, an utterly disorganized and revolted state in the Panjaub. In less than one year she had by her wise and effective administration changed the whole condition of the country, subjugated the rebellious cities and villages, increased the revenues, and established order, security and peace everywhere. Alleah Baiee, the Mahratta queen of Malwah, devoted herself for the space of twenty years with unremitting assiduity to the happiness and welfare of her people, so that Hindoos, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees, and Mohammedans united in blessing her beneficent rule; and of so rare a modesty was this woman that she ordered a book which extolled her virtues to be destroyed, saying, ‘Could I have been so infamous as to neglect the welfare and happiness of my subjects?’
    • Influence of Hindu women seen in history, Anna Harriette Leonowen Ghose, Indira, Memsahibs Abroad. Writings by Women Travellers in Nineteenth Century India, Oxford University Press, 1998. –Women Travellers In Colonial India. The Power of The Female Gaze, Oxford University Press, 1998(a).quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume IV Chapter14

India after 1947 edit

  • With many of my young (Hindu) male respondents from the Bajrang Dal, stories of rape were more like a fun story to share. The pleasure derived from storytelling was more visible when discussing the sexual degeneracy of Muslims.
    • Hindu Nationalism in India and the Politics of Fear, D. Anand, p. 75
  • As the legacy of this scenario, Indian girls are still being sold to West Asian nationals as wives, concubines and slave girls. For example, all the leading Indian newspapers like The Indian Express, The Hindustan Times and The Times of India of 4 August 1991, flashed the news of a sixty year old “toothless” Arab national Yahiya H. M. Al Sagish “marrying” a 10-11 year old Ameena of Hyderabad after paying her father Rs. 6000, and attempting to take her out of the country. Al Sagish has been taken into police custody and the case is in the law-court now. Mr. I. U. Khan has “pointed out that no offence could be made out against his client as he had acted in accordance with the Shariat laws. He said that since this case related to the Muslim personal law which permitted marriage with girls who had attained Puberty (described as over 9 years of age), Al Sagish could not be tried under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Besides Ameena’s parents had not complained.” (Times of India, 14 August 1991). But this is not an isolated case. I was in Hyderabad for about four years, 1979-1983. There I learnt that such “marriages” are common. There are regular agents and touts who arrange them. Poor parents of girls are handsomely paid by foreign Muslims for such arrangements. Every time that I happened to go to the Hyderabad Airlines office or the Airport (which was about at least once a month), I found bunches of old bridegrooms in Arab attire accompanied by young girls, often little girl brides. “A rough estimate indicated that as many as 8000 such marriages were solemnised during the past one decade in Hyderabad alone.” (Indian Express Magazine, 18 August 1991). In short, the sex slave-trade is still flourishing not only in Hyderabad but in many other cities of India after the medieval tradition.
    • Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 7
  • On November 20, the Karnataka government issued a notification allowing women to work night shifts (7 p.m. to 6 a.m.) in all factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948. [...] In principle, this is a welcome move. However, several concerns have been voiced by women garment workers who are estimated to constitute over 90% of the five lakh garment workers in Karnataka (according to data by Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a global coalition of trade unions). The amendment suggests that night shifts for women will only be allowed if the employer ensures adequate safeguards concerning occupational safety and health, protection of dignity and honour, and transportation from the factory premises to points nearest to the worker’s residence. The amendment stipulates 24 points related to occupational rules and regulations, most of which have been in existence for years. Yet, women workers fear that when there is no safety or dignity in the workplace even during daytime, how will employers ensure all this during night shifts? [...] In a sector where there is systemic failure and worker-management relations are turbulent, putting the onus of worker safety and security in the hands of the management alone can be risky. Moreover, it is well-known that in supply chains the brands call the shots. Involving them in discussions on worker dignity and equality is important. Omitting workers and trade unions from discussions about the amendment is also seen by the workers as a short-sighted measure. Women garment workers are concerned that while the amendment has stipulated many ‘new’ guidelines amidst the plethora of unaddressed concerns, allowing night shifts would only extend daytime exploitation.
  • The failure to adopt a Uniform civil code [has the effect that] Muslim women suffer because they do not have an equal right of inheritance, because they cannot easily obtain a divorce, because they can be divorced by their husband at their whim or caprice.
    • Atul Setalvad (1990), quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p.553
  • In the broadest strokes, the Times’ coverage of India is almost Orientalist—it’s almost as if it’s a backward place characterised by nationalism, violence, sexual assault. I read in an article somewhere, where they just flatly stated that there’s a rampant rape culture in India. And I was like, what? So, I actually started to look at the statistics to see what they meant. And you look at the statistics, and they’re a fraction of cases from what the US or Western Europe experiences. How can you make an assertion like that when the statistics are not even close to being there? So that was what I wanted to understand. I think on the broad level India (is portrayed as) being this nationalist kind of bully. And I think on a more specific level, it’s an anti Hindu approach... So you think to yourself why is there this division in how they cover China and how they cover India? Why is one being shown as this sort of progressive place that has managed to conquer a pandemic and the other this backward place characterised by funeral pyres and rape—and that’s what I’m trying to understand.
  • “Where big violence is so common, it is no surprise that gender violence is hardly a priority issue,” explained Mantasha Rashid, founder of Kashmir Women’s Collective, a trust that provides support under a single window to survivors of gender-based violence. “The rape and assault you’re referring to is akin to collateral damage. Women are caught in the crossfire in any conflict region, and the body of the enemy’s woman is seen as war booty by all the warring sides.”...
    “I don’t really want to go out and say that Kashmiri society is particularly flawed or patriarchal because that can be misinterpreted,” Rashid of the Kashmir Women’s Collective said. “Whenever we speak about Kashmir one has to choose their words very carefully or else the discourse is hijacked by the bigger political narrative.”
  • "Did Nirbhaya really have go to watch a movie at 11 in the night with her friend? Take the Shakti Mills gang rape case. Why did the victim go to such an isolated spot at 6 pm?" Mirje asked at a gathering of the NCP women's wing in Nagpur. "We have to be careful. We have to ask ourselves, where am I going, with whom am I going, what am I going for, do I really need to go to that place," she added.
    • About Rape in India. Asha Mirje,as quoted in [7]

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