Liberation

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Women’s Liberation Movement in India. What relevance do the complaints and demands of the Women’s Liberation Move­ments have in India. Certainly ours is a patriarchal society in which male supermacy is a fact of life accepted by both sexes from earliest childhood. Yet the lost of Indian women has not always been subservient. In the pre -Aryan days women enjoyed far more freedom than today’s young girls. The society was matriarchal and they owned property. The Aryans, even after coming to India continued this system. The Rigveda writes of women as equals to men, participating in philosophical debates, religious rituals and the gaiety of social life as well. But then their status was changed. A woman was not allowed to have more than one husband and she became only a child bearer. Her status depended largely on whether she produced sons, if she produced daughters, she was cast aside. But the most notorious of antifeminist was Manu. Manu decreed that a worran could own no property and he denied her the right to independence or individuality. In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband and when he is dead to her sons, a woman must never be independent. Manu was a proponent of the double standard too. Though seeking pleasure elsewhere, or devoid of good qualities, yet a husband must be worshipped as God by a faithful wife. Heaven, he says, is only attained through the husband and as a reward for having duly worshipped him as God on earth.

Female infanticide, child marriage, polygamy, and sati were all sanctioned by the Hindu religion. Then came the Muslims. Hindu converts to this religion inroduced the doctrine of male prerogative in divorce and property. In turn Hindu Society adopted the purdah. Widows were cruelly treated. Their presence was forbidden at all auspicious events for the sight of them meant bad luck and they were made to shave their heads and wear white.

With the coming of the British, things

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